Women divers are on the increase but few take up underwater photography for fear of lugging heavy equipment around or fear the intimidation by technical jargons of photography.
Impeding their desire to take beautiful pictures, they are an undiscovered breed of spotters and documenters.
If you have been trying to convince your wife/girlfriend to take up photography so that she wouldn’t have to hover above you needlessly while you compose your million dollar shot, then you must unleash the natural photographer in her.
To convince her, you need to be convinced of her capabilities to encourage her to embrace this art! I’m going to share with you what I have learnt in my 16 years of teaching scuba and 11th year into underwater photography.
Women are natural composers. From the selection of clothes to wear daily to the choice of clothes for their children and sometimes husbands, women can visualise the big picture better than men. This is also due to the multiple roles they have to play as mothers, working executives, crafters, etc.
Tasked also with redecorating the house, women know where things should be placed to look their best. Women take shades and tones of colours to the extent of associating them with fruits and flowers. Aubergine, violet, lilac, lavender, peach, pumpkin, persimmon, coral are all description of colours that women ‘see.’ Men only see shades of primary colours and may not be as descriptive as this and as such women would view a nudibranch differently from you.
Underwater photography to a woman is about having the subject in place where she feels ought to fit in the frame. They already take pictures of dogs, cats, children and even guinea pigs. They know what looks good in a frame.
Women are natural shooters. If you don’t believe me, give her a can of aerosol insect spray before unleashing a cockroach or creepy crawly into her domain at home. Be sure you clean up the mess after that. She would hit her target pretty quickly and efficiently.
Women have a natural eye for detail. She knows what colours should go on which wall if she’s tasked with redecorating. She picks out inaccuracies in bills. When you show her a turtle, she will see shape and patterns. Show her a wrasse, she will see face-markings. Show her a sea snail, she will see the whorl and the spire. Keeping her interested is not as hard as you think.
Women love cute things. Blennies are cute. Octopuses are cuter. Women associate cute things with cartoons. When they find resemblance of Pokemon, Ninja Turtle, Nemo, Dory, Sebastian, they will squeal with delight. Men take up diving for the challenge, adventure and conquering of the unknown. You may have progressed to underwater photography but your partner most probably hasn’t.
Women take up diving because they want to see a different world as they care more about the cute things in the ocean they feel for. It’s about Saving All Things Cute.
Our hard disks are powered differently and we are charged up by emotions. What turns men on in underwater photography may not be the same for us. A number of women divers I’ve spoken to, don’t consider nude models suspended and draped with colourful organza in mid water to be art forms (no offense to professional models or the photographer) because we were once, THAT art form before the love of food, the comforts of home and for some, the joys of motherhood took its toll on our bodies. A lot of precious things in the world like diamonds and gold (and our former body shape) are very difficult to get to but we don’t aspire to get to shoot a nude model. Show us something cute, please. A pregnant male seahorse, a blur squid but not a voluptuous bikini model.
What turns women on is the art form of coral colonies, prints on a sea cucumber, knobs on an opistobranch, the patterns on the shell of a bivalve and the spikes of pencil urchins. The list is endless but the gist of getting your partner to take up photography is not to show her a book of females modelling underwater. Do gawk in private but if she thinks you prefer the model to her being your partner, you’re finished. A fish/marine guide would be a better start.
Having so few articles or tips written by women for women on how to interact with marine life, your partner would find it daunting. I had a colleague who thought the Giant Frogfish was some kind of virus or fungus-laden monster when it appeared on the cover of a dive magazine.
Women like interacting. We talk to people just to get a better understanding of the community. To be in an environment where women can interact with marine life is a huge encouragement to continue diving even though equipment may weigh a ton to us. So interaction is the key. Tell her how the Goby watches the den while the blind housemate shrimp does the housekeeping! That would set her looking for them!
You can even start a collection of sorts to make an ebook or a little reference guide. That should be enough reason to shoot anything and everything. To photograph anything that moves and grooves is to document its existence, habitat and behaviour, promoting understanding and appreciation of marine life. And women can spot anything.
Lastly, women are natural protectors. Once you show her why she ought to photograph marine life, be prepared to get her a nice setup. She will defend the lives of those she photographs and your need to go diving (with her) to get to them. You won’t regret it.