Award-winning photographer Nicholas Samaras has lived a life dedicated to the sea and its creatures. Bringing to the surface much of the beauty from the underwater world in his own unique way, Greek born Samaras has amassed a stunning body of work from countless dive destinations around the globe, with a portfolio of images that have been featured in the world’s top diving magazines and won many international awards. We caught up with the man to showcase his top photographs and ask him about his incredible career:
 
At some point in time I felt the need to bring with me to surface the beauty of the sea because words and memories were not enough." © Nicholas Samaras

“At some point in time I felt the need to bring with me to the surface the beauty of the sea, because words and memories were not enough.” © Nicholas Samaras

What made you want to become an underwater photographer? 
Underwater photography was a natural continuation of me interacting with the sea through scuba diving. At some point in time I felt the need to bring with me to the surface the beauty of the sea, because words and memories were not enough.
 
Your first underwater shot? 
My first shot, not the actual first click but the first shot that I felt was impressive, was during a night dive in Chalkidiki [Greece] with my first underwater camera. The shot was a great image of a John Dory [St. Pierre or Peter’s fish] with a black background, which was also the first image I entered into a contest, and it gave me my first prize!
 
The story behind your most memorable underwater shot? 
I had completed two very successful trips to the Red Sea and had very good material from my dives in the Greek seas, and I was feeling ready to organise my first underwater photography exhibition – but I was missing the lead photo. At that time I had been visiting a diving centre in Sithonia, Chalkidiki to spend my summer vacation, and during a cave dive my model moved to the entrance of the cave and posed like the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – a pose we’d been discussing some time before. The timing was amazing! She remembered our discussion and felt it was that time to do it! The sun was low, lighting the entrance of the cave from the surface, and the framing from the rocks was spectacular. That photo inspired the name of the exhibition, which was “Soulfly”, and still creates strong emotions every time I see it.
 
"At that time I had been visiting a diving centre in Sithonia, Chalkidiki to spend my summer vacation, and during a cave dive my model moved to the entrance of the cave and posed like the "Christ the Redeemer" statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – a pose we’d been discussing some time before. The timing was amazing!" © Nicholas Samaras

“At that time I had been visiting a diving centre in Sithonia, Chalkidiki to spend my summer vacation, and during a cave dive my model moved to the entrance of the cave and posed like the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – a pose we’d been discussing some time before. The timing was amazing!” © Nicholas Samaras

 
Where is your favourite dive destination? 
I would definitely say Indonesia. The richness of the sea there is indescribable! There are uncountable places to visit and dive to take amazing photographs for visitors of any budget, from the most luxury liveboards and resorts to the simplest accommodations and diving centres offering shore dives. 
 
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"Top in my bucket list [to dive next] is Papua New Guinea and the Galápagos Islands. Those places have charmed me from my childhood..." © Nicholas Samaras

“Top of my bucket list is Papua New Guinea and the Galápagos Islands. Those places have charmed me from my childhood…” © Nicholas Samaras

 
The site you’d most like to dive, but never have? 
Top of my bucket list is Papua New Guinea and the Galápagos Islands. Those places have charmed me from my childhood, as I watched documentaries with the voice of Sir David Attenborough speaking directly to my heart!
 
The weirdest thing you’ve seen underwater? 
Every time I say, “Okay, that’s the weirdest thing I have ever seen and photographed,” something new comes up – usually when I’m shooting something in the macro and super-macro kingdom. The sea is a classroom, and what catches my attention are weird behaviours, strange symbioses, and collaborations for survival.
 
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"Every time I say “Okay that’s the weirdest thing I have ever seen and photographed!” Something new comes up." © Nicholas Samaras

“Every time I say, “Okay, that’s the weirdest thing I have ever seen and photographed,” something new comes up!” © Nicholas Samaras

 
What camera equipment are you currently using? 
Mostly I use a Canon EOS-5D Mark II in a Sea & Sea housing with Canon EF 8–15mm f/4L USM Fisheye lens for wide-angle and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens, but lately I have been experimenting with older lenses like the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Trioplan 2.8/100 with some interesting results. 
 
What is the highlight of your career? 
I think the highlight of my career was two of my photographs being part of the exhibition and award ceremony of the German Nature Photographers European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, and also the publication of a six-page article in National Geographic about a very important discovery I made with my diving team – Mediterranean black coral.
 
…And the low point? 
The low point was not a matter of success or not, but a lack of luck. It was the unfortunate moment when I washed my housing with the camera inside and a very expensive lens without checking the clips… I was without underwater photography equipment for three months – that seemed like ages during a high season period.
 
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“Scuba diving and underwater photography are two interrelated, equally important elements and require equal skills.” © Nicholas Samaras

 
Have you a
ny advice that you’d like to give aspiring underwater photographers? 
Scuba diving and underwater photography are two interrelated, equally important elements and require equal skills. A good photographer should primarily be an experienced and certified diver who has attended all the necessary schools and understands the importance of his personal safety and thereby the safety of his diving buddies.
 
The sea is the natural environment of other living species. Respecting any living organism and the different environmental conditions is very important too. Do not frighten or harass marine life, and finally always remember that no photo is worth a man’s life or a serious injury. Don’t put yourself in danger. Remember that diving should always be relaxing and a time to enjoy Nature. To improve your skills in underwater photography, never forget to read, learn, practise, practise, practise! There is always more to learn, so keep your eyes and ears open.
 
Is there any particular shot that you still want to get? 
Ha! About 500 themes in 100 places! Underwater photographers are greedy! We always want more and more! My dream theme is to shoot sperm whales. I think I would go crazy during the first encounter. I love whales.
 
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For more of Nicholas’ fantastic images, click HERE.