My name is Barney Smith, I’m a 31 year old photographer who grew up in Cornwall in the UK. My passion for underwater film photography started in 2019 when I lived and worked as a medical doctor in Raja Ampat in Indonesia, I purchased my first underwater film camera (Nikonos V) before my trip.
I read an old book from the 80s on how to use the camera system and then shot 20 rolls of film over 6 months and developed them when I returned.
I was extremely surprised when they came out.
Having learnt the basics, I then moved on to shooting medium format underwater finding an old camera housing from the 70s for my Hasselblad 500cm. This opened up a whole new world of challenges and opportunities to be creative.
Since I was very young I’ve always had a fascination with the underwater world, and I’m very fortunate to be able to combine that with my career in medicine, having worked across the globe for ocean conservation NGOs.
However, for the past few years I have been exploring and documenting my experiences around the UK coastline, thoroughly enjoying my experiences diving with seals and blue sharks, but also the way seaweed interacts with light just under the surface. I’ve used double exposure techniques underwater quite a bit in my work, sketching out shots beforehand as well as relying on a stroke of fortune.
I recently came third in the Up & Coming category of Underwater Photographer Of The Year, as the only photographer still shooting on film I was so happy to receive recognition from other underwater photographers based on the image regardless of the ‘outdated medium’ I still use.
I choose to shoot film underwater because I find myself viewing my subjects through ground-glass instead of a digital screen, estimating my exposures, waiting for just the right moment to take just one photo and then putting the camera away to enjoy existing in the moment.