Marine Photographer Skills: Definition and Examples

Updated December 9, 2022

Marine photography is a specialization that focuses on the creatures that live in the ocean. This can be a great career path if you have an interest in swimming and scuba diving, along with a love of animals. Understanding and developing skills for this position can help you become a better marine photographer and take quality pictures of creatures in the water.

In this article, we discuss marine photographer skills, including how to develop them and how to highlight them in a resume, cover letter and interview.

What are marine photographer skills?

Marine photographer skills are the abilities that allow creative professionals to capture images of marine life. Marine photographers typically use specialized waterproof equipment and go scuba diving to take pictures of their subjects. This work environment can create unique circumstances such as changes in lighting or animal behavior, so it's important for marine photographers to have skills like patience and quick decision-making.

Examples of marine photographer skills

Here are some examples of marine photographer skills:

Artistic skills

Artistic ability refers to the talent of creating digital or fine art in multiple capacities, including painting, sculpting, drawing and photography. In marine photography, this can include framing, which is the process of determining what objects can create the best composition for a picture. It can also involve using exposure methods to balance the light and dark parts of a photo.

Related: Creativity Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

Technical skills

Technical skills are abilities that allow people to perform practical tasks in the areas of science, the arts, technology, engineering and math. In marine photography, this may refer to using specialized tools for underwater photography. Understanding how each lens and extension works can help marine photographers create various types of images and achieve different effects.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Scuba diving skills

Scuba diving skills allow a marine photographer to dive safely underwater using self-contained breathing equipment. Marine photographers generally need to be familiar with the required equipment for diving, such as regulators, tanks, harnesses and buoyancy control devices. Scuba diving skills also include knowledge of safety protocols that can allow for an efficient and secure diving session.

Related: How To Become a Commercial Diver (Plus Skills To Develop)


Patience refers to perseverance and involves keeping a calm demeanor in any situation. For marine photographers, this can mean taking the time to find the right location and situation for framing a picture underwater. This can extend to the longer periods that make up an extensive diving session.

Related: 5 Ways Being More Patient Can Help Your Career (With Tips and Techniques)

Team collaboration

Team collaboration is the concept of working with one or more individuals on tasks. It can take a group of people to capture photographs of marine life, including safety instructors, fellow divers, graphic designers, photo editors and publishers. Proper team collaboration can encourage safe and efficient diving sessions and lead to efficient editing processes that create refined photography.


Decision-making is the concept of considering all possible outcomes of a situation and finding the best method of achieving the desired outcome. The ability to make fast and efficient decisions can help you in marine photography when you might need to make quick decisions to frame the perfect photograph. It can also help you determine what angle, position and camera settings can create the photo you desire.

Time management

Time management skills refer to organizing yourself according to a schedule so that you can use your resources and energy in the most efficient manner possible. This can be useful if you're planning complex dives, as the crew members involved may need multiple days or weeks to prepare. Having effective time management skills can help you improve your focus, complete your work on time and stay organized.


Coordination skills are the abilities that allow for the planning and execution of multiple actions simultaneously. You can benefit from having good coordination when scuba diving and taking photos, especially when you're handling all the equipment needed for marine photography. Proper coordination can allow you to obtain positions that help you take photos in hard-to-reach areas of the ocean.

Related: Coordination Skills: Definition and Examples

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the process of understanding, analyzing and simplifying complex problems. Photography can involve considering exposure, dimensions, color, positioning, framing and interpretations when taking pictures underwater. Marine photographers with critical thinking skills generally have a technical understanding of how all the aspects of photographs work together.


Adaptability is a skill that can allow you to accept change easily by being flexible in new situations. It's the capacity to modify your behavior when changes in a situation or environment occur. A marine photographer with high adaptability can compensate easily for changes in the weather, animal behaviors or schedules.

Related: 6 Important Workplace Adaptability Skills

How to improve marine photographer skills

Here are some steps you can take to improve your skills as a marine photographer:

1. Gain scuba certification

Taking a scuba certification course can help you learn how to properly use the equipment for your underwater photography sessions. These courses can teach you methods of conducting yourself while diving, including reading the pressure and depth gauges on your equipment and understanding the hand signals used to communicate changes and ensure a safe dive. These certifications can give you the knowledge and experience to dive and take your photos.

Related: 11 Different Types of Scuba Certifications

2. Study marine life

Studying marine life can help you better understand their behavior patterns and discover methods of approaching them to obtain natural framing for your photographs. It can also help you understand where to dive to witness specific marine biology and what times of the day give you the best lighting for your compositions. You can go online and use research websites, documentaries and online courses to learn more about the creatures that live underwater.

3. Practice your photography

When not under the ocean, you can practice your photography with hands-on experience taking pictures. This can include taking portraits, photographing sports events or taking images of nature above the water. Refining your concepts of exposure, color, framing and depth of field can benefit you when diving back into the ocean to look for your target subjects.

4. Take specialized courses

There are specialized digital underwater photography courses you can take online to refine your knowledge. These courses can teach you the fundamentals of marine photography and the specific photo equipment that works underwater. It can also give you the opportunity to communicate directly with established professionals who can answer your questions.

5. Practice photograph editing

Part of photography is editing the images after creating them. Photo editing is a skill that allows you to change key details that refine the look of a photograph through the subtle manipulation of the exposure, color and composition. You can look online for courses on photo-editing programs the industry uses to refine your body of work.

Related: How To Become a Photo Editor in 4 Easy Steps

6. Read books on underwater photography

You can study the work of other marine photographers to inspire and encourage innovation. You might look online or at your local library for books that help aspiring underwater photographers. These books can give you tips on composition, lighting and behavior during a diving session. It can also give you access to refined photographs as visual examples of what to emulate.

7. Read your camera manual

Specialized cameras for underwater photography usually come with an instruction manual containing valuable information, including how to operate each feature of the camera properly. The manual may also provide detailed information on exposure settings, shutter speed and aperture value. Reviewing all these settings can help give you ultimate control over the look of your photo.

8. Find a mentor

Working with an established marine photographer may allow you to learn new techniques to refine your photographs. There are services online that offer mentors who are experts in marine photography. You can also visit forums to locate professionals who are willing to answer questions. You might also have another photographer look at your work and offer their critiques to help you find areas of improvement.

Related: 10 Important Qualities To Look For in a Mentor

Marine photographer skills in the workplace

Here are some tips for using your marine photographer skills in the workplace:

  • Listen to professionals. Diving parties usually include diving professionals who understand detailed safety protocols. Listen to their briefings before diving to ensure a safe photography experience.

  • Maintain your gear. Saltwater may erode technology, even if it's specifically made for underwater. You can maintain your gear by thoroughly rinsing them after every dive to ensure care for your equipment.

  • Respect nature. Research the areas you dive in for any restrictions on human interaction with marine life. It can also help to research local protection policies to keep the oceanic ecosystem safe.

How to highlight marine photographer skills

Here's how you can highlight your photographer skills during the job search process:

Marine photographer skills for resume

On your resume, you can include a skills section and list your relevant abilities for a marine photography job. You may also discuss your skills in the experience section of your resume to further highlight your qualifications. For example, to showcase your leadership skills to a hiring manager, you might discuss how you led a diving team of eight people in a previous role.

Marine photographer skills for a cover letter

When writing your cover letter, you can start by researching job descriptions to gain an understanding of what hiring managers expect from marine photographers. Decide on one or two skills you have that align with the job description so you can create a focus for the content of your letter. Each paragraph can mention a unique skill and your proficiency while describing how that ability makes you the ideal candidate for a marine photographer position.

Marine photographer skills for the job interview

During an interview, you can describe how you've used specific marine photography skills in your current or past jobs to obtain certain results. You can use storytelling to integrate your skills with past work experiences that highlight these skills. For example, if you want to display your patience as a marine photographer, you can share a story where your patience allowed you to get the perfect framing for a photograph underwater.

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