Thursday, August 25 presents
Rick Sammon

Underwater Photography
June 27, 2001

Intrepid professional photographer Rick Sammon joined us LIVE FROM THE DEEP at Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida to answer your questions about underwater photography. Rick is a seasoned pro who has explored the world and researched its reefs.

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Kodak: Good evening. Tonight we are pleased bring pro photographer Rick Sammon to you live from the Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida! Right now Rick is 30 feet below the sea as he comes to us live via this state of the art chat application. So dive right in and ask your questions. Welcome Rick!

Rick Sammon: I've done several chats on but being at the Jules' Undersea Lodge is definitely the coolest location. I'm ready to answer your questions and have a lot of fun with you.

Reeses: Rick, are you actually underwater right now?

Rick Sammon: I am currently 21 feet under water in the Jules' Undersea Lodge, and I'm sitting here with the manager of the lodge, Rick Ford, and we're looking out one of the big picture windows here, and we see some beautiful fishes swimming around.

Duo Penultimate: How long have you been scuba diving? Did you learn to dive in order to take underwater pictures, or were you a diver first?

Rick Sammon: I've been scuba diving for 31 years, and I learned how to scuba dive because I wanted to take underwater pictures. And now I use my underwater photography to create an awareness of how fragile the world's coral reefs are, because I want people to protect them and see their beauty.

Lolly: When you are photographing underwater, do you work alone, or in a team?

Rick Sammon: Most of the time I love to work alone. As most scuba divers know, underwater photographers do not make good buddies. They get so focused on what's in the viewfinder they just have to get the shot. However, my dive buddy is my wife Susan who carries 2-3 cameras for me, and she's a good buddy because she stays far enough away from me as to not get in the picture. But it's a team effort.

Plimpton: How dangerous is what you do? Do you find yourself worrying more when your wife dives with you?

Rick Sammon: As far as danger goes, I'm more afraid to go to the dentist than I am to dive with sharks. I dove with sharks in Galapagos and Cocos Islands, Australia. I've been down 130 ft in Truk Lagoon, so if you're smart and you follow the rules, it's not dangerous. So I'm never afraid. The only thing I'm afraid of after 31 years is getting seasick, which I still do, believe it or not.

Kellie: What are some tips you can give us for diving and shooting pictures without damaging the underwater environment?

Rick Sammon: First of all, I'm glad you asked the question about not damaging the underwater environment, because first and foremost, that should be the concern of all underwater photographers. So the first thing you have to do is learn how to control your buoyancy so you don't smash into the reef. So after you become a good scuba diver, then you can pick up a camera. As far as maybe perhaps my best tip is if you think you're close, get closer, and that applies to topside photography also. For two reason - 1) You'll crop out a lot of the dead space (water) in the photo and 2) water is 800 times more dense than air so for sharp pictures you want to be as close as possible. That's why you want to use either macro lenses or very wide angle lenses, like 12mm, 13mm, 15mm.

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