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Meet New Zealand tekkie Ali Perkins who has a love/hate relationship with the water world down below. You’re gonna love it!
By Amanda White
Beginning with this issue of InDepth we will feature specific photographers whose images we admire. To kick off this new tradition we start with Ali Perkins, a technical and cave diver from New Zealand who has been photographing the underwater world almost as long as she has been scuba diving. Her mastery of imaging—everything from caves to the smallest sea creatures—grabs the attention of divers and non-divers alike. It makes you feel as if you were almost there.
“There was just so much underwater that was wonderful and weird and worth documenting,” Ali said. “The natural world is amazing to me. The ocean is a great place to connect with nature and have incredible wildlife experiences.”
But there is more to Perkins’ photography than just trying to capture the beauty of the underwater world that few people get to visit.
“Our freshwater places are precious and under threat. Our world is changing, and we need underwater observers to document these changes. All of these things inspire me to take photos underwater,” she said.
“I want to do more than take pretty pictures. I want to enhance our knowledge of the underwater world. If I can use my diving skills and underwater photography skills to contribute further to what we know, I think that would be a really cool thing.”
Perkins draws some of her inspiration from what she calls “the greats of underwater photography”. This includes people such as David Doubilet, Paul Nicklen (a mere five million followers on Instagram!), Viktor Lyagushkin, and Brian Skerry.
When we asked her what her favorite thing is to photograph:
“Underwater caves have a special place in my heart. I’m constantly amazed by their variety; every room and passage is different. I love to imagine how the cave was formed over time and the natural processes involved. I’m fascinated by how they’ve become time capsules, locking away archaeological remains and artifacts.”
“I love to imagine how the cave was formed over time and the natural processes involved. I’m fascinated by how they’ve become time capsules, locking away archaeological remains and artifacts.”
But caves come with their own set of challenges for photographers, Perkins explained.
“Caves are immensely challenging places to photograph. The immensity of the area to light up is a perplexing problem; there are serious conservation issues to consider, and there are the complexities of maintaining diver safety while executing a photographic plan in an overhead environment. I’m always being plagued by the question, ‘how do I take a photograph that does this cave justice?’ ”
Weirdly enough, Perkins says the hardest part of underwater photography is… wait for it… the water!
“It sucks the clarity out of your images, makes communicating photographic objectives with teammates challenging, and puts a timer on all underwater photographic adventures. The water is also what makes all underwater photos special. It’s a love/hate relationship.”
View more of Ali Perkins’ images on her website Inspired to Dive.
Alison Perkins is an avid cave diver and underwater photographer. She shares her adventures by documenting sites beneath the sea to locations of interest within caves. New Zealand’s oceans and Mexico’s caves are her regular playgrounds.