4 Photos with Matt Draper

Interview with a talented wide-angle photographer, plus background on some favorite underwater images
By Matt Draper

Talented photographers are always the photographers with the most passion. And when Matt and I missed our first call because he was racing to go shoot a Tiger Shark that had been reported close to shore, I could only smile.

Living in Byron Bay, Australia, Matt Draper has been busy building a strong underwater photo portfolio. A life-long surfer and ocean guy, he decided to pick up a camera just two years ago and start shooting the water - and the marine life - around him.  All it takes is a quick look at Matt’s photo stream to immerse yourself in intimate moments with animals photographed exclusively under ambient light - a natural style that makes it feel like you’re right there in the water. A calculated and careful eye for composition is inherent in the photos, and it’s no wonder that Matt’s fine art prints fly off the press.

Below are the highlights of our conversation, followed by a mini-portfolio of Matt’s work.

-Brent Durand


Interview with Matt Draper


Brent:  Which came first – diving or shooting?

Matt:  I’ve been in the water all my life and have surfed all my life, but I bought my camera and water housing about two years ago now.  Then I got into real freediving about six months after that.


What type of camera and housing are you using?

Most of the time I’m using the Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye as well as a couple of other ‘secret lenses’. Occasionally I use a dive rated housing but mostly use an AquaTech surf housing – it’s just so much smaller and easier to use while free diving. Shooting only natural light means most of my best images are captured around 5-15m deep, and this housing is perfect for that.


Why do you like shooting ambient light?

I personally don’t like shooting animals with powerful strobe lights, I’m not sure if they really like it either. I don’t disrespect anyone who shoots strobes. I honestly really love a lot of people’s work that use them. Strobes can get the image a diver wants in nearly any situation, but to me, the animal looks more like a model that is artificially lit up. I think with ambient light you can resonate more emotion and get people to really have a sense of what the animal looks like in its natural environment, and really show how it was behaving when I was interacting with it.


What do you think makes a great photo?

I think it’s getting easier to make great photos, and with social media you can get inspiration from anyone. It’s easy to take one great photo, but I think it’s hard to maintain a style. I like to see people keeping a style and trying to create a message or originality. To me, a good photo not just time, effort and patience, but when you start to see 5 or 10 images from the same person that really follow that style they’re working on.


Underwater Photos by Matt Draper






About the Author

Matt Draper is passionate about capturing his subjects for what they are, allowing people to see the raw beauty behind his images. With an interest in photojournalism and ocean imagery, photography has allowed Matt to travel to some of the most remote areas of the world, documenting subjects for the purpose of education and positive change for the environment, helping foster love for the ocean by replacing fear with fascination.

You can view Matt's work and fine art prints via:

  www.mattdraperphotography.com     |     Instagram


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