1. Close your housing when not in use.
I really learnt this the hard way, while showing potential clients a video one night, an ant could be seen crawling on the television screen. I tried to brush it off but to my horror, it wasn’t on the screen but in the footage! It proceed to “walk” all over people’s faces, reef fish and even hammerheads for the duration of the video. That was a slow sales night!
2. Be Mr. or Mrs. Clean
Make sure everything is spotless with the camera, red filter and port, you’ve got five surfaces that can be marred by fingerprints, hairs, lint and all manner of filth, once your are underwater, you wont be able to do a thing about it, so clean, clean and clean somemore then double check by shining a light into the port.
3. Bring backup
Like a good cop, always have backup. You never know when you may need a spare O-ring, battery, tape, memory card etc. It’s no good having spares back in your room, bring them on the boat in a dry bag.
4. Don’t forget about diving
During a shoot, it’s easy to get blinkered and become obsessed about your camera at the expense of your dive gear. Make sure you do your buddy checks as usual. I once forgot to change my tank after a dive and promptly found myself at 40 metres with a school of hammerheads and no air. Lesson Learnt!
5. Watch for the red light
It may sound too elementary, but always check that you are rolling. It only takes one forgotten record-button-push to get caught in a reverse cycle: when you think you’re on standby, you’re actually recording and vice versa. It’s surprisingly easily done and watching the result is not fun Trust me.
6. Don’t get excited
Most mistakes can be avoided by remaining calm and dispassionate. Yes, those whale sharks might be mating in front of you and it maybe the most spectacular event you’ve ever witnessed, but you’ll have to be calm and remember to wipe the bubbles from your lens, check your focus is locked and make sure you get the shot.