Brown is golden with Nat Geo

Photographer scores National Geographic success

A former Cayman Islands divemaster has had one of his underwater photos featured on the website of National Geographic magazine.

“I was really surprised; I thought I’d try my luck and submit a shot to the Your Shot section. Then someone I knew said they saw it. I went on there and it was on the Daily Dozen.

“It was picture of the day for September 2nd, is the icon you click for Best of September and also Best of 2010 pictures of the day, so I’m very chuffed with that,” Mike Brown tells us.

That shot, of a tarpon surrounded by a shoal of silverside fish, also gained success in the Caymanian Compass.

New website

Mike’s just launched his own website, mikesuttonbrown.com, which showcases his many images of Cayman’s undersea life.

“There are images from Eden Rock, Sunset House and Little Cayman. It’s a showcase so people can see what it’s like under the water. Because I’ve been diving so long, I notice things that other people might miss, so the macro-photography is introducing people to the smaller stuff.

“The website is there to share what I love doing and to let non-divers see what’s under the water, as well as show what people can do. Everyone’s got a camera and all these pictures could be done by Joe Bloggs,” claims Mike.

Hmm, a little modest there, sir. To a point, he’s correct – any souls who can point a camera at a subject can, should, and do take shots. But there is a difference between that and say, taking pictures good enough for National Geographic. Any tips to share?

“It’s about patience, knowing your subjects and how they react – I’d taken a similar pic to the tarpon one and that silversides part when you swim through them and the tarpon will, when it sees me, turn. So I just waited for the right moment to take the picture.

“Shoot upwards, as well – nobody wants to shoot down and see coral and dirty rocks. And if you are using a light, get within six feet of the subject. Try and be steady and not just snap, snap, snap and you will get better results,” he reveals.

Central to it is practicing a lot and reviewing photographs on a bigger screen which will reveal the shots in a lot more detail, adds Mike.

Proper chippy

Mike completed a four-and-a-half-year stint on Cayman, first as a dive instructor, then boat captain and finally managing Sunset Divers before deciding to return to his home Thornton-Cleveleys, a town near Blackpool in the north west of England.

“I’ve been on a couple of diving trips; it’s a bit more nippy over here. We went to Scotland and I am going to be working at the nautical college in Fleetwood teaching offshore survival training.

“When I remember Cayman, it’s how blue the water was, the lovely white sand of the beach and the people you work with, the people you meet, the happy tourists – it’s a fun, lively place to be and sometimes you take it for granted. Once you move away you really appreciate it, although I took a lot of things for granted in the UK at home too, like proper chippies and braising steak. I’ve put on about half a stone since I’ve been back in the UK.

“The weather in Cayman is beautiful … we’ve had some sun in the UK recently too so I’m going to have to dust off the shorts and sunglasses.”

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