Richard Carey is a full-time underwater photographer – which explains how he manages to capture some of his incredible images of the sea and its inhabitants.

We spoke to Richard while he was briefly back on dry land, asking him about the twin challenges of underwater photography and selling your images on Fotolia.

Fotolia: Can you tell us a little about yourself: where you live, how long you’ve been a photographer, and where you trained?

Richard Carey

Richard Carey – out of the water

Richard Carey: I’ve worked full time as an underwater photographer since 2007. I spent 15 months in the Bahamas, and after that was based in Dahab, Egypt. Currently I’m in the Philippines, but also spend the summer in Mallorca, Spain.

I did not train professionally as a photographer, but learned from books and websites, and by trial and error. I also received a lot of help from colleagues when I took my first underwater photography job at a dive center in the Bahamas.

Fo: What led you to specialize in underwater photography?

RC: I was working in Egypt as a scuba diving instructor when I became interested in underwater photography. Living beside the Red Sea I was in the perfect location, with warm, clear water and excellent coral reefs. I started out just using a compact camera when diving for fun, then decided to upgrade to a DSLR and to try selling my photos.

Fo: Is there one location you do the majority of your photography or do you travel often?

RC: Most of my photography was in the Red Sea; I did a bit in the Bahamas in 2007/2008, and currently I plan to spend about half the year in the Philippines and the rest in Mallorca, Spain.

Fo: What has been your most memorable image you’ve shot and what makes it so significant for you?

Curious Sea Turtle

Curious Sea Turtle

RC: Although it hasn’t sold much as a stock photo, my Curious Sea Turtle – a Hawksbill Turtle trying to bite my camera – is a favourite.

Fo: How have advances in technology allowed you to progress as a photographer?

RC: Of course as cameras and lenses get better and better our jobs as photographers get easier.

For underwater photography the housing is just as important, and I’m lucky to have a Seacam housing for my Canon 60D. The Seacam is very well designed with all the controls in the right places, which makes it very easy to change settings quickly without taking your eye away from the viewfinder – a significant improvement over cheaper housings.

Fo: Are there certain photo characteristics that you’ve come to realize are popular with Fotolia customers? If so how do you look to incorporate them into your shots?

RC: With stock photos it’s best to keep it simple, and try to get the image right technically. You don’t need to get too artistic.

Although I shoot almost exclusively underwater, I still try to get some variety: shooting with or without scuba divers, reef seascape-type shots for use as backgrounds in designs, and close ups of fish, turtles etc.

Fo: What other photographers do you admire?

RC: Too many to mention! I follow a number of underwater and wildlife photographers on Facebook etc, and always check the winning photos of major competitions. It helps remind me how much I still have to learn!

Fo: If you didn’t become a photographer what do you think you would have done instead?

RC: If I didn’t become a photographer I would have to do actual work for a living, and that wouldn’t be much fun.

Fo: What tips can you offer an amateur photographer looking to start selling their work on Fotolia?

Clownfish in anemone

Clownfish in anemone

RC: Keep uploading; keep checking what sells so you know what works; and don’t take the rejections personally – try to learn from them.

Fo: Clownfish In Anemone is your most downloaded image on Fotolia – can you tell us where you shot it and how you managed to do so?

RC: As always with stock images just a simple, basic composition works, so this close up works.

Actually, Clownfish In Anemone isn’t my most downloaded – this one, Caribbean Reef Shark, is only a few short of 700 downloads.

Fo: Whoops! Thank you, Richard. So, why is Caribbean Reef Shark most downloaded image from your Fotolia portfolio?

People are always fascinated by sharks, and their conservation is now a very important environmental issue, which I guess makes shark images popular.

Fo: Thank you very much for you time, Richard.

You can see (and buy!) much more of Richard’s work on his Fotolia page.