Dinis Guarda, author, entrepreneur, artist, and global thought leader, interviews Christy Lee Rogers, an iconic underwater photographer, in the latest episode of his YouTube Podcast. They discuss the intricacies of underwater photography and Christy’s recent collaboration with Disney and director James Cameron on the ‘Keep Our Oceans Amazing’ campaign to support ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’. The podcast is powered by Businessabc.net and citiesabc.com.

Christy Lee Rogers is a fine art photographer and an iconic personality for her underwater photography. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Rogers' artistic career has carried her all over the world, with her works of art exhibiting in exhibitions in Shanghai and Paris.

During the interview, Christy tells Dinis about her journey to become an underwater photographer:

I never thought of myself as being an underwater photographer. I was just an artist, using a tool to say something that I wanted to say that was sort of trapped inside of me for a really long time. It's just this passion that needed to come out through the images and I couldn't say it with words. So, it was kind of a relief to find the water and use that as a resource and a tool to create these images and I actually finally felt like I could communicate with people.”

The intricacies of underwater photography

Underwater photography extends far beyond the technicalities of standard photography. It presents unique challenges and opportunities that are both demanding and rewarding. Speaking about the specialised field requires a deep understanding of lighting, buoyancy, and underwater behaviour, Christy told Dinis:

I made a lot of mistakes. It was just like a trial-and-error sort of a science experiment. So, it was a lot of patience building up the style because the water is so difficult. It's the fabrics that are moving in front of it and if they move too far away from the light then you don't capture their face, or you've got the bubbles. I think that's what I liked: the challenge. That's what pushed me forward. So that was part of the learning curve for me. I learnt where to put these lights and what kind of lights I am going to use. Those mistakes led to where I'm at today and that style became different.”

Christy also told Dinis that underwater photographers often use strobes or external flash units to restore the natural hues and provide sufficient illumination.

If I'm going to shoot at night and it's pitch-black outside, I'm going to need some really harsh lights. All you'd see is everything would be illuminated and then the shadows would just drop off and the blackness of the night. I started to really like that because it was expressing the emotions that I had inside of me. You can easily capture the movement and the drama, like capturing the moment in time. So that's what I've kind of grown into is just letting the individuals underwater move so you capture this emotional moment in their experience which is very vulnerable underwater. When you've got these harsh lights underwater, you're going to just get these really amazing pops of color. If I'm using the right fabrics, the light is just sort of shining through there and just Illuminating everything.”

Christy also explained the physics behind underwater photography, which is primarily influenced by the behavior of light as it travels through water. “What I did find out is that light travels slower in the water than it does in the air because water is denser. So, you're going to get this bending or refraction happening. That's where we get this painterly like image: there's just a little bit of bending so it's not very precise.”

She emphasises that understanding these principles allows photographers to adjust their techniques and equipment to compensate for the unique challenges posed by the underwater environment:

If I set everything on my camera correctly and the lighting is correct and all of the elements are correct, we get this really slight bending which is really beautiful. If you've ever been swimming in the pool and you drop something and you got to pick it up and it's actually over there and you think it's over here because your eye is seeing seeing it differently - that's sort of what I've been using and that's really necessary because I don't want to see everything so clearly. I want to have that softness that you get in a painting and that's been my style and what I've used, and you know it's a fine tuning. It's a lot of mistakes to get that right image.”

Ocean Conservation with underwater photography: The James Cameron Avatar Commission

In celebration of ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ and the global ‘Keep Our Oceans Amazing’ campaign, James Cameron and Disney commissioned Christy to create a collection of photographs celebrating oceans. The artworks featured the film’s stars Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Kate Winslet to help protect 10 of the marine animals and their habitats worlwide. 100% of net proceeds from the art sales went to The Nature Conservancy and help protect oceans and marine life.

Speaking about her passion to use her work as medium to create awareness about marine ecosystems, Christy told Dinis:

I just started to realise that people were not respecting the water as much as I wanted them to. I'd see plastics on the beach, or I'd see the water being so dirty and these animals showing up with tumors like Turtles and I it just started to get to me what was happening here. I just see how much we need water on this planet you know and so that's how it all came together.

The Nature Conservancy is doing a lot of things to protect certain parts of the oceans and their mission is over a 10-year period to protect a certain percentage of sea life and the ocean”, she tells Dinis.

The full video interview is available on Dinis Guarda YouTube channel.

The audio podcasts are available on: Apple Podcast, Spotify, Amazon Music, and others