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Don’t scare the fish – A NEW approach to UW photography

(DiverWire) Ask any underwater photographer and they have likely encountered the same issue – you see a brightly colored fish, start to frame a shot and all of a sudden it swims away because of the sound of your bubbles. It’s frustrating, but as scuba divers, we have to breath! One innovative photographer on Bonaire has found a solution – but you have to be in shape to take advantage.

Zsuzsanna Pusztai (or Suz for those who know her) does almost all of her underwater photography holding her breath. By freediving, she eliminates virtually all of the bubbles that scuba divers generate. This enables her to get close, real close to her subjects.

Together with her husband Leo, the pair operate BonPhoto which provides a wide variety of photo services, activities and experiences on the island of Bonaire. The photography that she creates is not only unique, but it adds a level of personality into the shots.

“It certainly allows me to capture better images,” she explains. “It is a unique way of getting the shot.” She usually sticks to still images, but sometimes shoots video pieces, many of which include great interactions with the many species of local marine life, including her favorite, turtles.

While trained by Leo to freedive to depths over 100 feet, Zsuzsanna typically stays in the 40-60 ft. range where the lighting is better and she has more time to adjust her camera settings. She frequently takes shots of travelers but says she prefers to shoot marine life. “Nature is unstaged, it’s well, natural. You can always ask a person to pose or do something over. Unfortunately, you can’t ask a turtle to do the same.”

The key to successful freediving takes mental preparation according to Leo, a certified freediving trainer and instructor. “Create a positive mental distraction and the body relaxes, using oxygen in a more efficient way.”

Ironically, Zsuzsanna, who has been a photographer most of her life, admits that despite Leo’s training, she’s a better freediver when she has a camera in her hand. “The camera gives me something to focus on. As I adjust the settings and set up the shots, that’s when I’m most comfortable. Take the camera away and my freediving is different and not always that good.”

Not only has Leo trained his wife to freedive, now she in turn has helped train another BonPhoto photographer, LeAnn Marie to carry on the tradition. The BonPhoto team has created an impressive gallery of images, almost all shot while the photographer was freediving and holding their breath.

For more details on BonPhoto and their underwater image gallery, visit the website.