Anilao, Philippines - Underwater Photo Workshop

Originally published on Bluewater Travel, from my recent photo workshop in Anilao, Philippines.

Anilao Underwater Photography Workshop

Nineteen hours of travel behind me, I arrived at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines just 10 minutes before a small earthquake, the first of many that would rattle the area over the next two weeks. Hearing, and feeling, them underwater was quite the experience. What a way to kick things off.

I had the privilege of arriving a few days before my workshop to get into the rhythm of things and lend a hand with the first group of 22 divers who were in the final few days of the first of two Bluewater Photo Anilao workshops before my guests began to arrive several days later.

Costasiella kuroshimae, better known as the Shaun the Sheep nudibranch.

As May 7th rolled around, the new group of guests began to arrive, settle in, gear up, and begin what would be 10 days of a very productive and fun filled workshop. Photographers of a range of skill levels came to hone their craft in what is surely one of the best locations in the world to find, see and photograph an immense variety of underwater animals.

After the first two check out dives on the afternoon of Day 1, the workshop would take off with four dives each day, including early morning image reviews, afternoon photo workshop sessions, and private one-on-one work with guests each night. It was clear that this group came with the intent to learn and shoot, a lot. Every photo review was packed with images and a healthy discussion about tips and techniques to try.


Coleman Shrimp (Periclimenes colemani) tucked into the toxic spines of a Fire Urchin.

With the benefit of so many dives, 36 in total, over the 10 day workshop, everyone had the opportunity to revisit dive sites and subjects multiple times to work on getting the shot they wanted. Highlight sightings of trip were the Blue Ring Octopus, Rhinopias, Pygmy Seahorses, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, as well as countless Frogfish and an endless variety of nudibranchs.

It was easy to see how quickly the group as a whole was improving, and by the 3rd day of the trip the quality of the images everyone was producing was outstanding and only getting better.

Helping to push everyone to produce the best images they could was the expectation that we would hold a photo contest at the end of the workshop. To make things interesting, we announced on the morning of the final full day of diving that the contest rules were changing and the new format was going to be a “Shootout”.


Amphioctopus marginatus, also known as the coconut octopus

One day, four dives, and live judging on the final night of the workshop. Over the course of 60 minutes, Mike Bartick, myself, and our guest judge Brook Peterson went through the images in a live judging format.

It was a great trip, with a fantastic and enthusiastic group of divers who all showed incredible skill and talent, as well as passion for underwater photography. Whether in, on and out of the water our guests were taken care of with the highest level of service. Many thanks to the outstanding staff at Crystal Blue Resort for all of the work put in to make our stay perfect.