“In the 70’s David Doubilet pioneered the art of above and below images. In my opinion, Matty Smith now takes it to the next level.. sort of perfected it.”
Michael Aw – Author, Conservation Photographer, founder of Ocean Geographic Magazine.
Matty Smith is an ocean wildlife photographer based in Stanwell Park, NSW Australia. His portfolio “A Parallel Universe: Windows Beneath the Waves” is a selection of his favourite and most successful images taken half over and half under the water. This collection has won him several highly acclaimed international awards and worldwide recognition of his unique style.
Matty Smith has exhibited his award winning images in over 70 countries across 5 continents around the world including the London Natural History Museum in the UK and the Australian Museum right here in Sydney. He has spoken publically about his style and approach and had his work recognised and admired by Sir David Attenborough and HRH Kate Middleton.
I have always had an attraction to the water and the tricks it plays on light for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of my brother and I snorkelling on family holidays to France and the Mediterranean Sea. I can clearly remember my first experience of watching shafts of sunlight weave and dance down into the deep blue, carved by the rippling ocean surface.
I bought my first film SLR camera in my teens to try and capture what I loved to see and I used it to shoot the coastlines of my home country of the United Kingdom. It wasn’t long before my curiosity and appetite for shooting the ocean meant I would have to get in and shoot underwater, so I saved and bought a waterproof housing for my camera so I could explore further.
As my photography skills grew I needed to travel more to get the images I imagined, so trips abroad to far off countries followed. Now residing in NSW Australia after emigrating from the UK in 2007 I have the worlds biggest playground at my feet, the Pacific Ocean….. And I have truly fallen in love with it.
“For me one of the most wondrous parts of any dive is the moment that the water engulfs my mask as my head slips below the surface. I think it’s the suspense of the unknown of what lies beneath, the transitional part of moving from one element to the next that feels so magical and the thought of what alien creatures I might encounter. That is what draws me to taking half over half underwater images. I try to convey to the viewer that majestic feeling in a picture format. It’s maybe the best way I can communicate to a non-diver what it’s all about, to marry a wet and unfamiliar world with a dry and more familiar one.
I view my half over half underwater images as a landscape photograph; I prefer brooding and atmospheric skies over a blue sunny midday and a composition that compliments both the above and below elements. I undertake many location scouts with my snorkel gear on. Whilst doing the scouts I will take reference pictures so I can plan how to make my final image when a suitable location has been found. A final image in my portfolio is often a well-researched and planned affair.”