We’re excited to introduce Markus Roth, our new guest blogger. As an underwater photographer, he writes for well known diving magazines, both in Germany and around the world. He learned about us in March, when he discovered our crowdfunding campaign. After some chatting, we realized that he is a genuinely nice guy and that we would be excited to work with him. From now on, he will enrich our blog with his travel stories and advice regarding underwater photography. Let’s see what he has to say!
Markus, please introduce yourself
My name is Markus Roth. I turned 39 in september, I am married and father of to 2 amazing kids. I was born and raised in Cologne and love the city. I first held a camera at the tender age of 5. My father used to be a professional sports photographer until 2 years ago. Thus, cameras have always played an important role in our family. I practically inherited the passion from my father.
How did you get started with underwater photography?
I have been taking pictures while diving for a little more than 10 years. I took my first pictures with a 5 Euro throwaway camera while visiting the Maledives. That was an interesting experience. I quickly realized that I wanted to show my friends and family more about the fascinating underwater world.
Do you have any role models?
My father is my role model. Despite all the hard work it takes to sustain yourself as a sports photographer, he never forgot, what it means to be human and helping others. I’d like to accomplish the same.
When talking about underwater photography, I prefer the word ‘admiration’. I like David Doubilet, Ernie Brooks, Paul Nicklen and Amos Nachoum a great deal. Especially Nachoum and Nicklen explore difficult terrain and manage to amaze many other people with their outstanding pictures.
I like almost everything by Alex Mustard and Davide Vezzaro. The way both work with lighting is very inspiring and impressive. For me, their pictures are very asthetic.
When talking about wracks, I admire the work of Steve Jones, love the split shots of Ethan Daniels and admire a few more photographers in macrophotography, but I have a hard time naming someone particular.
Regarding professionality and seriousness when tackling certain topics, I think about my friend Tobias Friedrich. I’d like to better understand how he can focus so well. At times, I get distracted too easy.
Those are just a few names I can think about off the top of my head; it’s certainly not a comprehensive list.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with underwater photography?
Basic advice: Buy once and buy well, or you’ll soon buy again. Same goes for your diving equipment. After a while, your requirements will increase and you will buy something new or sell your old equipment.
Please don’t go under water right after you obtained your diving certification. I did it, but in retrospect, I think that it was wrong. You should be so good at diving, that you can maneuver almost blindly , pass the taring and not have to focus on yourself. Than you ‘ll be able to take your camera under water.
In underwater diving, there is one simple rule: Get close and then get even closer!
Another advice I can give, is the importance of allowing animals time to get used to the ‘invader’. Some animals are quicker than others. Sometimes, I spent ten minutes in front of a hole in the sand, just so the animal can get used to my presence.
What are your favorite motives?
A tropical reef and all the little animals that are part of it. I’m a nesh and not a big fan of diving in cold water. (laughs)
I enjoy documenting animal behaviour. Last March, while diving at Raja Ampat/West Papua, I saw the entire food chain. From a small fish egg to the gray reef shark. That was so fascinating that I almost forgot to take pictures. I like healthy reefs and biodiversity. That’s why I love diving in Indonesia. So far, my most impressive experience took place by Isla Mujeres in Mexico, where we were looking for Pacific sailfish. It was unbelievable to see those elegant animals in action. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.
You’re writing for a lot of magazines, both in Germany and abroad. How does an article come to life?
I start out with a lot of research about the area that I will explore. Is there anything special other people often write about? Next, I’ll check how to obtain tanks. In some of the places I visited, this is not an easy task, especially in West Papua. Once I located the resort/base, I reach out to the owner.
I try to know as much as possible about the dive site before actually going there. Where does the current divide? What animals will I discover? Are there cleaning stations around etc. These days, I’m much more focused than I was in the past. This means less pictures per dive, but much better quality.
I try to incorporate models as much as possible, because it makes the picture that much more interesting. It’s hard to find a good model, especially if you don’t know the person very well. You can only communicate via sign language and that makes precise communication a hard undertaking. Before we became parents, my wife was my model. That was perfect. We just had to look at each other and she knew what to do. Well, the kids have grown up and I hope that we will dive again next year.
Once we get home, the work begins. Choosing the pictures, editing them, pitching them to magazines. If a magazine shows interest, I start writing the article.
In a few weeks from now, you’ll talk at a diving expo in Hong Kong. Are there any differences between diving in Europe and Asia?
Asia is definitely more colorful and offbeat. European diving equipment is often black. Such as mine. ;-) When shopping for diving equipment in Asia, you can pick from a huge selection of different colors and even „Hello Kitty“ fans have no reason to complain. I also got the impression, that Asian divers are more likely to bring their camera under water.
I think that Asia is a very interesting market and China’s diving industry is currently booming. I like that people are interested in me. I’ve been talking at Boot (a well known German diving fair) for 5 years (on the stage of Underwater Pixelworld). The conversation with audience members after my presentations aren’t that plentysome. In Hong Kong, I have much more conversations. However, I’m not very fond of the numerous people that play with their smartphone while I hold my presentation.
What can our readers expect from your blog posts?
I hope to delight our readers with a few interesting facts that will make them enjoy my posts. I will provide a lot of background information, which would probably go under in a magazine article. There will be some creature feature articles, which will revolve around small creatures and their behavior. Overall, it will be a great mix of adventure, photography and interesting facts from the animal world.
Markus, thank you very much for the interview! We are looking forward to your travel reports in our Lexi&Bö blog. We are excited to learn from your experiences and getting amazed by your pictures.
If you have any questions for Markus, feel free to leave a comment. We are looking forward to your feedback!