I learnt to dive in 1979 and became interested in photography two years later. The word 'interested' is an understatement. When I look back I would describe it as an all-consuming obsession! By 1983 I'd learnt the theory of f numbers and shutter speeds and could set the controls of my camera to produce an image on film, but that's about as far as I'd got. To my family and friends I was the next Cousteau, but in my own mind I was quite hopeless and sadly lacking in something.

The problem was — I had no idea what that 'something' was. I then found BSOUP (British Society of Underwater Photography) and began to attend their monthly meetings in London. It all then changed for me. I immediately noticed a clear distinction of quality between those images taken by BSOUP's best and the rest of us. Such was my enthusiasm to become a better photographer;I became determined to find out why this was.

How were the best photographers able to obtain such superior pictures to those obtained by wannabes like myself using the same equipment in the same location and on occasions shooting the same subject?

At BSOUP, dive trade shows and seminars, I had the chance to talk to the most respected and well-known photographers of that era. My questions revolved around topics such as imagination, patience, and visualisation and whenever the opportunity arose to enquire, my favourite topic was 'subject choice'. How were they able to get great shots of simple, everyday, common-place subjects? My persistence paid off and over a period of time I gained a valuable insight from these conversations.

Using my own interpretations of words, I began to label what I had discovered and set out to apply this knowledge to my own underwater photography off the South Coast of England. It worked! And in a short time (months as opposed to years), I developed my skills and abilities significantly. At BSOUP I soon became 'the person to go to' and other beginners began to question me about my own techniques.

From my own experiences I found a way in which to communicate topics that were less to do with equipment, f-stops and shutter speeds and more to do with how to think and apply ideas underwater. These question and answer sessions led to articles, which inevitably led to underwater photo courses and workshops. In 1996 The Underwater Photographer was first published. It's been translated into numerous other languages, updated with second and third editions, and reprinted more times than I can remember. In 2005 I wrote a combined film/digital edition to introduce underwater photographers to the amazing possibilities of pictures from pixels.

Presently (at the time of writing) this edition is at the very forefront of underwater photographic education and coaching. It's an encyclopaedia, an instruction manual and a photographic collection all in one but there is one, important thing to bear in mind — this book is underwater photography as seen through the eyes and mind of Martin Edge. It's my own philosophy and outlook on the subject.

Whilst it's also the most comprehensive source of information currently in circulation, there are other books out there written by great photographers whose views may differ from my own, so I encourage you to also seek out other opinions.

Oh and by the way, this book is entirely digitally orientated!

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