Welcome - Achieving a Dream to Walk Again and Help Others
A huge ocean sized warm welcome to my page and thanks so much for swimming by. Starting out as a complete beginner who discovered the ocean whilst in hospital on the end-of-life pathway with 15 fractures after being run over for the second time (a London police car at 3 and a huge Greek lorry at 23) and a back stuffed full of seaweed, it's incredible to believe that despite doctors saying that I wouldn't live or walk again, I'm still pinching myself to believe that I've managed to walk again after 3.5 years and achieve all of this without studying photography.
From being the first person to achieve a Distinction from the Royal Photographic Society for a portfolio encompassing both digital compacts and SLR underwater images, to launching the first ever underwater photography workshop designed for beginners with compact cameras in the Red Sea, Egypt, and running the first ever PADI Digital Underwater Photography Speciality back in 2006 to writing the first ever book in the world especially designed to help beginners get the most out of their compact cameras, whatever their set-up, winning "Book of the Year" in the Dive Industry, it's been a complete dream to help so many gain confidence with their settings and see them go on to do so well.
If I can help you too, please get in touch or pass by my Ocean Studio in Swanage, I'd love to help you too.
Sincerely, Maria x
It's incredible to think that I've helped over 20 guests to win prizes, become journalists and Editors across the globe and that Erick Higuera, the first ever person I helped with their underwater photography with an Olympus 5060 back in 2004 has gone on to have his work in the Blue Planet, the Ocean Film Festival, receive a Stan Waterman Award for his work in the USA and has also had his work featured with National Geographic.
Daniel Norwood came to me back in 2008 needing help to master his strobe underwater and incredibly went on to scoop a Sport Diver Magazine "Photo of the Month" shortly afterwards as well as win the British Society of Underwater Photographer's Best Beginner in 2008, 27 points ahead of the runner-up with his Fuji F31d, INON lenses and one INON strobe. He is now the Editor of the world renowned Dive Photo Guide.
David Smith who came on a beginner's underwater photography course in Oxford went onto win Countryfile's Calendar Image of the Year competition and David Shrub has also had his work shortlisted for the same competition.
Rebecca Smith won Sport Diver's Photo of the Month twice (7 different guests won it in just a few years) and went on to have work featured in The Independent newspaper.
David Kittos who also won Sport Diver's Photo of the Month competition went onto write for Underwater Photography Magazine and Digital SLR magazine.
It's really incredible to believe that my first book has helped so many people too around the world and has become the 14th best-selling book on Underwater Photography in the world.
I've recently updated it to include a new set of images and is available from my online shop at www.theoceanstudio.com
Passion for Conservation
From first seeing "The Aquanauts" satellite tag whale sharks back in 1994 whilst in hospital and reading Carl Safina's "Song for the Blue Ocean", I had a dream to make a difference and help children learn about our oceans.
From launching shark conservation campaigns back in 1999 for The Shark Trust with our Deputy Prime Minister and the late Peter Benchley at The Deep in Edinburgh, being a Volunteer for British Divers Marine Life Rescue, helping Sea Shepherd UK, raise money for Biteback Shark Conservation, participate in research trips for the Shark Research Institute and learn about the work of Manta Mexico when it first started, learning about our oceans and helping them has always run deep in my veins. I was also lucky enough to meet the BBC's Blue Planet Team in Monterey whilst they were filming Blue Whales.
In 2012 I funded myself to go undercover in Tajung Luar, a shark and manta ray fishery to collect data to try to help mantas be protected through the following year's CITES convention. This information was passed onto Aquatic Alliance who worked closely with The Manta Trust, PADI's Project Aware and other important organisations.
Since I moved to Dorset and recently opened my new Ocean Studio which is open Wednesday to Saturday 12 pm - 5 pm, it has been a huge dream to be able to help visitors learn about our seas and guests with their photography.
Aside from this, I also loved helping both The Scuba Trust and Diversability to help other disabled divers to dive and worked with Frank Gardner, BBC Correspondent, to create a video highlighting their work.