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Books on Underwater Photography

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Books on underwater photography fall into two groups: those written for film photography, and those for digital photography published after 2004. Here I list only books writen for digital undewater photography.

Prices are not listed as they vary greatly depending on whether the book is printed or electronic, new or used.  The book reviews are shown between quotes.


Paul Kay: Underwater Photography. 2004.


  1. “An award-winning photographer and his breathtaking pictures provide beautiful inspiration for anyone longing to dive into the deep blue sea and record the wonders of marine life. Everything is broken down into manageable, thematic sections, which cover the photographic basics before progressing to more advanced procedures. Capture the ocean’s infinite splendor with an array of underwater shooting techniques, advice on choosing a camera, suggestions for maintaining the equipment, and instructions for lighting in this watery world. You’ll find out how to deal with low visibility, learn essential photographic equations for calculating shutter speeds and exposures; understand the differences between various film stocks and what digital can do; and see how to use the flash effectively. So take the plunge—the results will be fabulous.”
  2. “This beautifully illustrated title by an award-winning underwater photographer combines stunning photography and informative. The author breaks the subject down into manageable thematic chapters which deal with the basics of underwater photography before progressing to advanced techniques. The result is a comprehensive range of information suitable for readers or all ability levels, regardless of previous experience. - Basic underwater techniques - Underwater cameras - Maintaining your equipment - Using a camera underwater - Flash and available light - * Top author was first person to be awarded a fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society for temperate underwater photography. He runs photo-education courses in the UK and leads field expeditions abroad.”

Jack & Sue Drafahl: Master Guide for Underwater Digital Photography. 2004.


  1. "From camera selection to enhanced exposure, everything necessary to capture underwater digital images is available in this handy reference. Photographers will learn how to select, test, and use digital cameras for technically perfect images, adapt traditional photo techniques to underwater conditions, confidently shoot and light underwater images for great exposure, and remedy common problems that plague underwater photographers. Helpful hints on maintaining, cleaning, transporting, and insuring a digital camera are included. With full-color images that both instruct and inspire, this handbook provides information on every conceivable aspect of creating the right conditions for beautiful underwater photographs.
  2. “The first 60 pages deal with film cameras and technique, the rest of the book is on how to find and photo underwater subjects, illustrated with excellent large photos and many good instructions and suggestions.  It is worthwhile if it can be bought for a good used book price”.

Andrea and Antonella Ferrari: The Art of Underwater Photography: Creative Techniques and Camera Systems for Digital and Film. 2007


Some reviewers of this book run hot, others cold, as some consider it inspiring, others to be so vague as to be useless.


  1. “ Be aware this really isn't a technical, dry, boring guide in the strictest sense of the word like most of the others available on the market. It's rather more of a highly inspirational book which begs to be read and re-read again to find creative inspiration, to bring out the inner hidden artist. I loved the photos and highly enjoyed the clever suggestions in the text - and I can already see how my own underwater photography has incredibly been enriched by this volume. It's like having your own personal tutor! This is a book I'll treasure for many years to come.

    But now this:
  2. “As a guide to being an underwater photographer it is pitched at the diver who has already bought the camera and knows about the basics but is looking to improve composition and their artistic style. There are some good points and some nice ideas. For example the author links ideas from classic cinematography to framing, composition and developing character in subjects, he discuses trim and interesting debates such as Canon Vs Nikon but sadly this were the teaching falls down. As it is a little beyond the beginner and slightly patronising for the more experienced.
    I am also surprised that the editors allowed so much personal subjectivity into the text as it seems that the book is ego driven. At times the authors distain for inexperienced divers comes through to strongly. This makes you want to put the book down and begs the question 'who is this guy' sure he is a good photographer but is really that great, I have not heard of him and he is not Doublet. I think there is danger that some photographers journey a little to far up there own rectums and this book seems to show that. Sadly the attempts of linking eastern mysticism and pseudo intellectualisation just add to the feeling of 'arse' that you get from reading it. For example the title which I assume attempts to link to Robert Pirsig's classic book on values and technology - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is pretentious. After all this is diving with cameras not a discussion of 20th century values and 'quality'.
    The misplaced narrative is a 'narrative' that is disjointed and mixed up with the pictures. It is written in a chatty style with no demarked chapters and is more the like the warbling, moans and nit picks of man who has won a few photography prizes than a guide on how to take good pictures.” 


Larry Gates: The Beginner's Guide to Underwater Digital Photography. 2010

  1. “Simplifying the seemingly difficult and expensive art of underwater photography, this accessible investigation outlines the four elements of success: focus, exposure, composition, and subject. Beginning with an overview of necessary diving skills, this survey reviews these four categories in detail, depicting how to obtain superior results even without the latest and greatest equipment. Maintenance and first-aid tactics are presented as well, reducing the chance of disappointing malfunctions during a dive. Also covered is the importance of developing a photography plan beforehand—both for the safety of the divers and the protection of the underwater environment. Concluding with post-shoot techniques for choosing the best frames, cropping photos for printing, and the top methods of presentation, this examination demonstrates how underwater images can be used to share the world of diving while promoting important conservation efforts.“

Larry Gates: Advanced Underwater Photography. 2011


  1.  “Ignore ‘Advanced’ in the title. If you know what ISO, F-stop, and aperture are, you know enough to start with this book without any other prerequisite.
    The first few chapters are so chock full of useless fluff, I nearly chucked this book in the trash. For example, on P18, the author explains in painful detail why its better to have in-focus shots than blurry ones. But soldiering on, eventually the book does get into real-deal info on equipment and technique and provides enough useful information that a beginning underwater photographer will learn a thing or two.
    There are plenty of photos illustrating technique, always with F-stop, shutter speed, and ISO, but only sometimes with focal length.
    If you are an intermediate or advanced underwater photographer, skip this book as it will be too basic for you. If you have no experience with UWP, this is a decent place to start, though far better technical resources are avail on the web for free. Just search for "underwater photography guide."

Richard Carey: The Underwater Photographer's Guide. 2012 (This book does not discuss Macro, only Wide Angle)


  1. “...this book/ebook by Red Sea diving instructor Richard Carey is a new primer for underwater photographers. There is no shortage of such texts, but this one stands out as being very clearly and simply written, avoiding unnecessary jargon and concentrating on the essentials everyone needs to understand when venturing beyond automatic settings. The images used as examples are good-quality, too, which, isn’t always the case with such guides. The captions make it clear that Richard uses only Canon Eos SLR cameras with either 60mm or 100m macro, Tokina 12-24mm zoom or Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens. However, this doesn’t seem to make the guide any less useful for non-Canon owners or users of compact cameras, because his approach is all about stripping the task down to universal principles and covering the basics. For beginners the lack of flab will be a bonus. Load up the ebook version as a handy reference for your next trip. Steve Weinman “

Pat Colley and Alex Mustard: Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera. 2014


  1. “The best underwater images don't just capture the subject well, they also capture mood, emotion and atmosphere. Unlike most other underwater photography books, Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera focuses on composition and techniques rather than the all-­consuming camera technology that people tend to chase first. This makes it a supremely cost-effective tool for improving images; and there is no discrimination between users of different camera systems - this truly is a book for all.“
  2. “A very useful book for someone who has underwater photo experience. For the beginner it may be little daunting. To get the most out of the book you should be knowledgeable and have mastered the basics including actual in-water experience with UW cameras. My best advice would be to get the UW photography instruction book by Martin Edge and be reasonably familiar with that information and techniques contained in that book ( even though is is a little dated) and then progress to the Masterclass book. For me I learned some new techniques I haven't used or tried before and I have been shooting nearly 20 years beginning in the film era.”

Nick Robertson-Brown: Underwater Photography. Art and Techniques. 2014.


  1. “This practical book explains and offers advice to the reader on both the art and the science involved in capturing stunning underwater shots. Contents include: Advice on the equipment you will need to get the most from your underwater photography; Descriptions of underwater habitats and animal behaviour; Guidance on how to be a responsible photographer; Direction and assistance on topics including composition, natural and artificial lighting, exposure and underwater conditions. Superbly illustrated with 206 stunning colour photographs.”
  2. “What I like about this book is the explanation, the way it unpacks everything so clearly, so I could really understand the principles - not just the 'how', but the 'why'. And then it told me in clear steps how to produce great underwater photos. Highly recommended!”
  3. “There are much better underwater photography books available. The photos in the book are not very good at all. Any book by Martin Edge or Alex Mustard is much better.”

Tobias Frederich: Underwater Photography. 2014.


  1. “Underwater photography is a fascinating pursuit for those who aspire to capture the magical world found within our oceans and bring it to the surface. In this book, award-winning photographer Tobias Friedrich teaches us how to create stunning underwater images, covering everything from the equipment needed, to creating powerful compositions, to processing the final image. He uses case studies to show how his own images were created, and provides detailed explanations for specific techniques that can be applied to your very next dive.
    The text is supported by images from some of the most beautiful diving areas on Earth. Also included are countless tips and tricks for the beginner and intermediate photographer.“


Mark Harris: Glass and Water: The Essential Guide to Freediving for Underwater Photography. 2015


  1. "Glass and Water is the first book on underwater photography written for freedivers. With contributions from expert underwater photographers this book teaches the skills, knowledge and equipment necessary to successfully pursue underwater photography without scuba gear."  Chantae Reden wrote a long review of this book which reads: "One of the main themes of the book is, “The harder we work, the sooner we need to surface; the sooner we need to surface, the fewer photographic opportunities we make. Every little bit helps when it comes to streamlining our freediving and becoming more efficient, and this book has many tips to advance your freediving and photography strategies." https://thesaltsirens.com/freedive-book-review-glass-water-mark-harris/


Alex Mustard : Underwater Photography Master Class. 2016.


  1. “When Scuba Diving surveyed our go-to shooters for their recommendations, this text — by another frequent contributor — was mentioned most often, hands down. For more-advanced/-creative techniques, this new volume “simply can’t be beat,” says Allison Vitsky Sallmon, “a common refrain.”
  2. "The first 30 pages of the book are what one might call “introductory,” teaching the reader the holistic approach to underwater photography—from differentiating the mindset from “just a diver” to environmental considerations. There’s also a useful introduction to the required gear, with up-to-date (as of 2016) information on cameras, ports, housings, strobes, and building your ideal rig. If you already have a setup for underwater photography, this section might not provide too much more insight, but it’s definitely key for building from the ground up.
    From here, Alex’s genius for providing a unique, practical way to present a topic is really evident. Instead of initially branching out into wide angle, macro, super-macro, or any other classifications of underwater imagery, he presents underwater photography in terms of lighting—a theme that drives the whole book.“


Larry Gates: Underwater Photography: A Pictorial Guide to Shooting Great Pictures. 2016


  1. “Beginning underwater photographers may be surprised to find that there are numerous tools—from fully automated cameras, to smart phone cameras, to sophisticated DSLRs—that can be used to create incredible underwater photographs. In this book, author Larry Gates (of Aberdeen, South Dakota) “dives in” to the topic of underwater photography and teaches the skills beginning photographers need to explore saltwater and freshwater environments. Beginning with a look at the equipment used, Gates explains how to keep your camera water-tight, choose lenses and accessories, and assemble your system. You’ll learn which lenses are best for photographing large versus small creatures, reef scenes, wrecks, divers, and more. You’ll also learn how to work with a strobe, ensure sharp focus, and increase the odds of getting images with vibrant color. Finally, Gates provides strategies for managing your workflow and doing basic image editing after the dive.”
  2. “With clear step-by-step tutorials and inspirational examples of the photographers’ craft, the author shares with you the fine art of composition and other secrets for making successful underwater pictures.” ―Mike Ellis, Photo Pro Dolphin Dream Team Charters.

Martin Edge with Stuart Gibson: The Underwater Photographer. 5th ed. 2020.


  1. “In this long-awaited fifth edition of the best-selling book, Martin Edge continues to provide the definitive guide to underwater photography. The book covers everything from the basic principles, the equipment and approaches to composition and lighting through to creating an individual style."
  2. "The book features over 400 updated color images - taken on numerous dives around the world - with an accompanying narrative that provides detailed information on how the shots were taken, their strengths and weaknesses and how to fix mistakes. Practical examples take you step-by-step through the basic techniques: photographing shipwrecks, divers, marine life, macro images and taking photographs at night. New chapters cover the latest equipment, processes and techniques including SLR Cameras, water contact lenses, mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, micro four third systems, super macro techniques, motion blur, LED lighting and more.”


Maria Munn: Underwater Photography: A Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Professional Quality Underwater Photos with a Point-and-Shoot Camera. 2021.


  1. “Modern compact cameras are capable of capturing fantastic underwater images – and this book shows you how. Easy-to-follow techniques are accompanied by hundreds of photographs that show you how it is done and the results you can achieve. There is advice for both beginners and more advanced compact camera users, covering topics such as what camera to buy and how to look after it, how to master settings for different cameras and how to compose great underwater photographs. The author goes over several compact cameras in each section, and goes over the useful steps and details.”
  2. “This is a very good book! the book is very easy to follow with detail explanation and good examples. I finished this book before my last diving trip, and brought home beautiful photos form the trip. just bought another one for my diver friend.”

Alexey Zaytsev: Underwater Pictures With the Olympus TG-6.  2021.


  1. "This book is something every underwater TG user needs! It clearly describes the best settings and options for underwater photography, helping to set the TG camera to its ideal underwater capabilities. It’s simply written do you can easily follow the steps and get to shooting faster. The author gives tips on the camera, and all the accessories you can benefit from using on the TG. How to shoot in common underwater situations and “life hacks” make up a great section and there is even a section on strobe and light positioning. Whether you just bought your TG-6 or you’ve had it for years…. YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING NEW IN THIS BOOK!!! Get it!"
  2. "I found this camera very versatile on land and under water. The pictures under water were as expected from Olympus Camera. I will being buying the complete underwater package for our next trip."
  3. "...but that is a lot to pay for an instruction manual."
  4. "This book is grossly overpriced for the fairly skimpy advice given. It would have been reasonable, if it was less than half the cost. As good, or better, information can be had for free on the Backscatter website."
  5. "Tell us how to navigate the menus! Give us the sequences to set things as you suggest them to set!" 




  1. History of Underwater Photography.
  2. https://bookauthority.org/books/best-underwater-photography-books
  3. 10 of the Best Underwater Photography Books for Learning


Edited by Davide DB
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  • The title was changed to Books on Underwater Photography
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I wrote a new book on underwater photography last summer. I am hoping it might be out in the spring - although I have not heard anything from the publishers for ages - and I've been too busy to chase them up (as it is also unlikely to make any difference). Will reveal more when it is coming. Alex

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I will throw in one from the film era. This one kicked off the madness for me:


Howard Hall's guide to Successful Underwater Photography, First printing 1982.


Somewhat dated, but the basics are all there.


Hard to argue with Howard.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, Howard Hall's book is good, but almost half is about film technique. Can you recall when we were limited to 36 film shots per dive, with no way to know if the photo was any good?  Plus having to change film rolls, and then wait until the film was developed? Then uw photography became digital at the beginning of the 21st Century, as did the books about underwater photography. 

The improvement in photo performance and ease has been so marked that I was able to exclude books about film photography with no regret, and to list only those books dealing with digital photography.  



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21 hours ago, Kraken de Mabini said:

Yes, Howard Hall's book is good, but almost half is about film technique. Can you recall when we were limited to 36 film shots per dive, with no way to know if the photo was any good?  Plus having to change film rolls, and then wait until the film was developed? Then uw photography became digital at the beginning of the 21st Century, as did the books about underwater photography. 

The improvement in photo performance and ease has been so marked that I was able to exclude books about film photography with no regret, and to list only those books dealing with digital photography.  



Indeed. Agree.


I recall going to Sipadan in 1992 with 36 rolls of Fuji Velvia 100, spending 10 days there and not having a clue if I had a single keeper. Also, the learning curve was completely flat. You could continue to make the same mistake over and over, with no feedback. Three weeks later, when the film returned from processing, you could toss 90% of the slides into the bin.


Digital photography is the single most important advance in UW imaging.


The reference to Howard Hall was more of a shout-out to one of the greatest UW image makers, who is still active, all these years later...



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I do remember the film era!  I had a Sea&Sea Motormarine with its lousy attached flash.  And to add a difficulty factor, I was living in the Solomon Islands and had to send my exposed rolls by post to Australia for processing, which meant I didn’t see my images for about 4-6 weeks after a dive.  It made for slow learning . . . 

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  • 2 months later...

This topic arises so often that this list should be pinned to the top of the techniques section.  

For those beginners with shorter attention spans, online articles can be useful to explain the basics.  I found the following sites to contain very useful resources.  I’m sure that there are others.  








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