Underwater Photography Workshop with Tim Laman and Zafer Kizilkaya

11-21. August 2024

Come and dive the richest coral reefs in the world and learn the secrets of UW photography at this unique underwater photography workshop by world renowned photographers in Raja Ampat in August 2023.  Workshop leaders Tim Laman and Zafer Kizilkaya have each made hundreds of dives in Raja Ampat, publishing articles in magazines like National Geographic, GEO (Germany), Atlas (Turkey).  Whatever your photographic experience or type of equipment you own, their guidance, presentations, and photo critique sessions will help build both your technical and artistic skills.  You will enjoy diving some of the most spectacular coral reef dive sites in the world while learning to make the most of the opportunities in this underwater photographer’s paradise.

click here to read about the experience of 2023 graduates

Why Raja Ampat and why Papua Explorers?

The dive sites of the Dampier Strait area, within easy access from Papua Explorers resort, are documented to have the highest species diversity in the world of both fish species and coral species.  Coral reefs in this region are healthy and vibrant.  Many local villages in the islands have been protecting the reefs in front of their village from fishing in exchange for fees from dive operators such as Papua Explorers. This means that the dive sites we visit can have an extraordinary biomass of fish.  Furthermore, the success of the Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area means that encounters with large fish such as mantas and sharks have significantly increased in recent years. Therefore, the impressive biodiversity of this area make it an ideal set up for an underwater photography workshop.

The wide-angle photography potential is exceptional and is what many visiting photographers choose to focus most on.  However, this is not to say that there are no macro subjects.  Approachable fish, and a great variety of smaller creatures also offer plenty for the macro enthusiast.  Our instruction and dive sites will have a somewhat wide-angle emphasis, however please bring your macro setup as well if you have one and you will find plenty of interesting subjects.

A colourful forest of soft corals and passing Archerfish, beneath overhanging rain forest.

What the underwater photography workshop will be like?

The workshop at Papua Explorers is built around the standard diving program of three boat dives a day, and optional additional house reef or night dives.  We will make use of the afternoon break and evening times for our on-land instruction.  The instructors will also go out diving and shooting with you, and while underwater instruction isn’t very practical (except perhaps pointing you toward some potential subjects) we will be there on the boats and during surface interval breaks to answer questions, suggest shooting possibilities at different dive sites, and help in any way we can.

During afternoon breaks between diving and during evening sessions, your instructors will present illustrated talks on a variety of relevant topics.  Since we expect our participants to have a range of experience levels, we will cover the basics but also offer insights and ideas to inspire veteran photographers.

A few examples of topics we will cover include:

  • Optimising exposure, including balancing ambient and strobe lighting.
  • Lighting techniques, strobe placement, and avoiding backscatter, for both wide angle and macro subjects.
  • Focus techniques for stationary and moving subjects.
  • Wide-angle closeups
  • And a lot more….

In additional to these technical aspects of underwater photography, we will also explore the artistic side.  What makes an interesting composition?  Should you follow rules or break them and surprise your viewer?   Our goal will be to stimulate your creativity and help you take your photography to the next level.

See what our participants said about the workshop: click here

Tell a story with your pictures

An important aspect of the workshop will be a chance for you to get feedback from us and fellow guests on your images in a supportive atmosphere.  After you have a chance to download and select some images to share, we will have some evening sharing sessions where you can get feedback on your work.

Moreover, the instructors will also take time to share some of their own work and stories with the group, — from revealing fascinating natural history stories such as why coral reef creatures are so colourful, to telling the stories of endangered marine ecosystems like mangroves, to making use of photography in major marine conservation projects like establishing critical marine protected areas in the Mediterranean — we hope to inspire you with ideas about what can be done with underwater photography.

Lastly, one of the best features of basing our underwater photography workshop at Papua Explorer’s resort is the excellent setup for photographers.  A dedicated “camera room”, right at the end of the jetty next to the dive center, provides a workspace to prep cameras and re-charge batteries right next to where we board the boats.  This makes it very convenient to service our cameras between dives, and there is no need to carry heavy cameras back and forth to your room if you don’t want to.  It is the most convenient setup at a resort for photographers that we have ever seen.

Spread awareness

While coral reefs around the world face challenges from climate change and other threats, the more photographers who can create strong images and help spread the word about the importance of protecting strongholds like the Raja Ampat Marine Park, the better off we will be.  Thanks for your interest, and we hope to see you in Raja Ampat at this special underwater photography workshop as you become part of a force using photography for good.

For bookings and any questions, please contact us at raja@papuaexplorers.com .

Click here to request the rates and information

Space is limited, so please don’t wait! Click here for participant testimonials.

Workshop Instructors:

Tim Laman

Tim has been diving and doing underwater photography ever since he worked as a research diver during his college days.  He is currently a contract photographer for National Geographic magazine where he has photographed more than twenty natural history stories from birds-of-paradise and orangutans in the rainforest canopy, including several underwater features, from the coral reefs of the Philippines, to Fiji, Micronesia, and many areas in Indonesia.  His underwater photography from the Raja Ampat region has featured in two articles in German GEO and in the large format book “Raja Ampat: Through the Lens Of:”, a collection of underwater photography from top professionals.  His many photography awards include the overall winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year (with an orangutan image), as well as winning images in the underwater categories of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Nature’s Best International Photography awards.

In addition to his technical expertise, what Tim can offer workshop participants is a glimpse into his creative process.  What makes a good photo “great”, and how do you think beyond creating single images, to telling a story with your pictures.  Whether you just want to share your vacation images with your friends, or you aspire to publish your work and have an impact in spreading appreciation and awareness about marine life and conservation issues, Tim would love to help you on your journey.

You can learn more about Tim and his work at his website.

A little more about Tim’s special interest in Raja Ampat and a gallery of his Raja Ampat photography can be found on this page.

Zafer Kizilkaya

Zafer Kızılkaya is a professional conservation photographer and marine conservationist. He worked over 10 years in different tropical marine conservation projects and for National Geographic assignments. In 2012 he was the co-founder of Mediterranean Conservation Society, dedicated his career establishing marine protected areas in Eastern Mediterranean. He won “Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) Award, 2013”, “UNDP Equator Prize, 2014”, Whitley Gold Award” in 2017. He is leading where participatory marine resource management model that engages a wide range of stakeholders in monitoring, evaluation, and program design. His conservation related articles about southeast Asia and Mediterranean have been featured various magazines. He has been diving and photographing around Raja Ampat over 20 years.

A false clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) hides in an orange anemone, waiting . Raja Ampat, Indonesia. September 2022