Marty Snyderman is a professional photographer, author, educator, speaker and Emmy Award winning cinematographer who inspires underwater photographers around the world with his fascinating photographs and insightful marine articles. We caught up with Marty at Scuba Club Cozumel (Mexico) while he was teaching photography seminars and workshops with Bonnie Pelnar. It was a pleasure to sit down with an Underwater Photography Icon who is so well liked in the industry and is doing rather well for himself these days.
Marty Snyderman worked in the film business for over 25 years. Marty kids that he actually had a full head of hair when he started diving. A career in the diving industry started in earnest for this Arkansas native when he was managing a Dive Store in San Diego, California back in 1975. In those days, San Diego was the epicenter of a relatively new diving industry and Marty had the pleasure to work at Chuck Nicklin’s retail dive center, the San Diego Diving Locker, with another budding photographer, current-day IMAX film producer Howard Hall.
Back in the day, the entry level ticket to work in the diving industry was to become a Scuba Diving Instructor. So with a total of 27 dives under his belt, Marty graduated from the NASDS Diving Instructors College, and placed first in his class. One week after becoming an instructor Marty worked at an NASDS Instructors Clinic as an Instructor Evaluator – and we won’t tell you how many students he had certified at that point. But it was fewer than one.
Marty’s early photography mentors were the legendary Jim & Cathy Church, Jack McKenney, and, of course, his friend Howard Hall. His first piece of photography equipment was an underwater strobe he bought because Howard wrote down what he should buy on a napkin on the way home from a dive trip to the California Channel Islands. Marty and Howard became close friends and managed to get the same day off from the store so they could go diving together and polish their photographic skills. Marty dived a lot in San Diego and improved his photographic skills while using amphibious Nikonos cameras which were the industry standard in those days.
Marty’s bio reads like the best of the best in Who’s Who so we will not attempt to replicate it here but rather link you to his web site – About Marty Snyderman
Marty Snyderman is currently the “Marine Life Editor” at Dive Training Magazine, The Monthly Magazine For New Divers & Their Instructors. He enjoys his work at Dive Training Magazine because he likes and respects the people he works with, and he has noticed that his “Happiness Factor” is way up. Sounds like he has the best of both worlds.
Always on the lookout for interesting experiences, Marty enjoys initiating his own projects rather than be re-assigned to something that he’s done many times before. As we talked, he was finishing his photography seminar with Bonnie Pelnar and starting to pack for his next self-assignment – Filming Saltwater Crocodiles in the Yucatan.
Today, because of weight limits when flying internationally, Marty laughingly states that he normally travels with 3 cameras, 4 strobes, 2 underwater housings, and 1 pair of underwear. In a tight pinch, the underwear would be the first to go.
Looking back as one of the industry’s more accomplished photographers, Marty has some encouragement and great advice for the up-and-coming Underwater Photographers. “If you really want to do something, then it’s do-able. I promise, if I could make a career out of underwater photography, others certainly can.” He continued to say that new photographers “need to put in their time, not be afraid to try things, and understand that they will fail along the way. Everybody that gets anywhere in life fails at some point. Don’t let a bit of failure beat you.”
About Marty Snyderman
Residing in Solana Beach, CA, Marty Snyderman is one of approximately 75 people inducted into DEMA’s SCUBA diving Hall of Fame, Marty S is a proud recipient of DEMA’s 2008 Reaching Out Award. He is an EMMY Award winning cinematographer, accomplished still photographer, author and speaker specializing in the marine environment. The Marine Life Editor of Dive Training magazine, Marty produces at least three columns a month in every issue, including the underwater photography column entitled Behind The Lens and a natural history column entitled What’s That. Marty represents Dive Training magazine in Hawaii, and he teaches underwater photography seminars in dive centers in North America and at destinations around the globe. He is also the Senior Editor and a columnist for California Diving News, and the co-author of a series of apps on underwater photography.
Marty’s still photography has been used by the National Geographic Society, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, REEF, Oceana, the Shark Research Institute, and many major publications, natural history museums and aquaria that express interest in marine wildlife and related issues. Marty serves on the Board of Trustees of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), an organization that utilizes citizen volunteers around the world to provide data for research scientists studying the health of the world’s oceans.
Marty’s cinematography has been seen on numerous National Geographic productions, the PBS series Nature, the Discovery Channel, the BBC, ESPN and many other networks around the world. He also filmed the underwater segments in the Warner Brother’s hit Free Willy, a major theatrical release, and has worked on numerous award-winning series.