Undersea Discoveries – Interview with Underwater Photographer Greg Amptman

story by Rebecca Mackay

Rebecca - Tell us what brought you to the underwater world and how your professional underwater photography business came to be.

Greg - When I was a young boy I was fascinated with shows like "The Undersea of Jacque Cousteau" and National Geographic, which really inspired me. I dreamed of traveling all over
the world, diving exotic locations and seeing weird and beautiful creatures of the deep. Unfortunately, living in Idaho there were no oceans and when I reached my adult years, my dreams nearly died.

After moving to Washington State in 1985 I found myself being drawn to the ocean. it was the weirdest thing. It felt like it was calling me. I then realized that was still a chance to chase that childhood dream. Eventually, I took some time off from my job and with some cash burning a hole in my pocket, I signed up for some scuba classes. After I received my basic open water certification, my instructor came up to me and said that I already dived like an experienced diver and that I would have no problem finding dive buddies. I finally found something that I was really good at and then I realized this was where I always belonged.

What finally set the whole thing in motion for me was when I took a week-long course with the Nikon School of Underwater Photography in the Cayman Islands. It helped give me a more solid knowledge base to work with. It was also where I was introduced to digital photography

Underwater photo by Greg Amptman
Underwater photo by Greg Amptman
Photo by Jeff Mackay
Photo by Jeff Mackay

Rebecca - Tell us where some of your underwater photos have been featured.

Greg - I have had several photos published in various magazines and web articles such as Shark Diver Magazine and Northwest Dive News. My first real publication came when Dr. Alessandro de Maddalena used several of my photos for his book "Sharks of the Pacific Northwest." Afterward, Dr. De Maddalena has used several more of my photos for many of his books that were published in Europe. Most recently, I have had some of my photos published in a college study book called an "Introduction to Zoology." PBS then used a photo of mine for their DVD cover which was titled "Shark Reef and The Sacred Island". The one I am most proud of where my photos were used is titled "The Big Book of Sharks" by the Discovery Channel which was a promotional piece for the 25th anniversary of Shark Week. It has been a fun ride.

Rebecca - Diving for more than twelve years and logging in over 1000 plus dives you must have some amazing experiences to share. What has been your most terrifying underwater experience? And the most amazing!

Greg - Probably the most frightening moment I had diving was when I was one of the dive leaders taking a group of newbies out for a fun dive. When we had finished the dive, I was approached by two individuals that were not part of the group. The two divers informed me they had lost their buddy during their dive and they were both pretty much out of air in their tanks. To make matters worse, their friend was a brand new diver making his first open water dive since he got his basic open water certificate. I then called out to some of the divemasters on the beach and told them we had a missing diver and we then proceeded to search for him in the area that his friends lost him. Visibility was less than ten feet and to surface several times to check.... Story to be continued ...

Sharks Greg Amptman