Award-winner's secrets to underwater photography

21st April 2017 6:46 AM
TOP SHOT: The underwater magic captured by Liz Harlin. TOP SHOT: The underwater magic captured by Liz Harlin. Liz Harlin

ONCE again, Noosa photographer Liz Harlin has dived in deep to capture award-winning slices of underwater life.

Liz has been named Australian Institute of Professional Photography Professional Documentary Photographer of the Year.

For three years running, sharp-eyed Liz has won major awards for her marine wildlife photography and has also won competitions for her underwater fine art portrait photography.

The AIPP is the leading industry body for working photographers in Australia. Across two days of judging, expert photographers from throughout Australia judge all the prints, evaluating the image itself as well as print quality and presentation.

"When photographing wildlife, it helps enormously if you first learn about each animal's behaviour and habitat," Liz said.

"And you definitely need a lot of patience.

"I'm especially careful never to harm the underwater environment while shooting, nor to interfere with the animal's natural behaviour."

Liz's 2017 wildlife portfolio of four prints earned her a Gold, a Silver with Distinction and two Silvers.

These high scores led to her being a category finalist and from there she was chosen as the overall category winner for documentary photography.

Liz began photographing at age 11, shooting on film and developing her own prints in a darkroom.

For the past 14 years she has focused exclusively on underwater photography, drawing on her skills as a former scuba diving instructor completing more than 3500 dives.

Her work has appeared internationally, including in The New York Times, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and even on postage stamps.

"There are certainly many equipment, lighting and environmental challenges with underwater photography as compared to shooting on land," she said.

"But underwater offers the benefit of no gravity restrictions, so I can approach and photograph my subjects from any angle in all three dimensions.

"It's good fun, and you simply can't do this as quickly and as easily on land."

When not photographing wildlife on location overseas, Liz is regularly commissioned to create beautiful underwater fine art portraits in the relative comfort of a heated swimming pool.

View Liz's photography online at lizharlin.com.