Brett Stanley Returns! The Man Behind the Amazing Underwater Photos

On this week’s episode of Inside the Photographer’s Mind, I’m joined by underwater photographer Brett Stanley. We featured Stanley earlier this year, and his work was so popular we decided to get him on the podcast to learn more about the man behind these amazing underwater photographs.

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As we said, this is Brett Stanley’s second feature on The Phoblographer in only a matter of months. It’s extremely rare we would do that. However, so many people became connected to his work and wanted to know more about it, so getting him back on the site was a no-brainer. From a personal perspective, I was in awe of his underwater creations and was super stoked when he agreed to come on the show for a chat. Here’s an overview of what to expect. Hit play on the audio or video player to better understand who Brett is and his creative process.

Brett Stanley on a Day in the Life

The show opens with me asking Stanley what a day in photography life is like for him. He explains that it’s varied, as his underwater work doesn’t only pertain to photography. A day before recording Inside the Photographer’s Mind, Stanley worked as a consultant for a production company. He helped develop the set and gave direction for the scene the company was filming.

When he’s not consulting, Stanley works with the many clients that come to his studios. When asked what a person’s motivation is for an underwater portrait shoot, he explained that many soon-to-be mothers want an earthly-style shoot. He also works with many professional mermaids who wish to get the underwater aesthetic to further validate their act.

Brett Stanley on His Why

Underwater photography isn’t for everyone. The process comes with many challenges that one would not normally encounter when shooting on dry land. Brett Stanley explains the reason he does this type of work is that he genuinely loves being underwater. He also loves introducing people to the water, while giving them an experience different from something like swimming.

We go on to discuss the meditative qualities of underwater photography. While there’s certainly plenty to think about when doing an underwater shoot, Stanley can relax and fully embrace his environment: something he says his clients also enjoy.

Brett Stanley on Direction

A significant part of portraiture is direction. Photographers need to pose their subjects to create the best image possible. For Stanley, things aren’t as straightforward as they would be shooting in a standard studio. He tells me most of the direction comes before going underwater. He discusses different looks and objectives while also calmly preparing them for being underwater. Each section of the shoot last 40 seconds before both Stanley and his subject come up for air. Here they will reflect on the images and decide what works and what doesn’t. Stanley explains a typical underwater shoot lasts three to four times longer than a standard shoot.

What Else to Expect

Brett Stanley and I also discuss how he maintains his underwater studio. He explains how he keeps it clean and handles any retouches. We also explore what helps validate his creative process and what he likes to shoot when he isn’t doing personal photography. Stanley also gives us an overview of what the rest of his year looks like for his professional and personal photography.

It’s a fantastic show and you can enjoy it by hitting play on the video or audio player.

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Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host of professional photographers within the industry.