Photographer Spotlight - Charly Clérisse

Photographer Spotlight - Charly Clérisse


I am excited to introduce my May Underwater Photographer - Charly Clérisse. He is a dive manager on a liveaboard in the Maldives and loves diving anywhere and everywhere. He has many award-winning photos including the 'Natural World & Wildlife' Sony World Photography Awards 2023 and the cover photo for Scubadiving Magazine - September/October 2022 to name a few. You can follow him at @diving_charly  or buy some of his prints here  - Keep reading to find out more about Charly and his journey with SCUBA & Underwater Photography!

Charly Clerisse after scuba diving in the Maldives
Charly Clérisse after scuba diving. 
Hi Nudibranch people! My name is Charly and I am the Dive Manager for the Scubaspa Yin, a liveaboard located in the Maldives. I was born in France, but I left when I was a teenager and moved to Spain with my family. I have been living for the past 5 years, back and forth, in SE Asia and I have been in this position for a little over 3 months now.
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
When and why did you start diving? 
I have always lived near the ocean and loved snorkeling, but it wasn't until a student exchange in the Canary Islands in 2015 that I tried scuba diving for the first time and my entire world was changed! I fell in love with diving after my first dive and haven't stopped since. I became a Divemaster in Honduras in 2017 and became an Instructor in 2018 in Thailand. Since then I have been moving around the world, teaching Scuba and taking pictures.
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by Charly Clérisse
How and why did you get started with photography?
The fact that I was living in beautiful places far from my home and friends made me want to share my experience with them, so I bought my very first camera, a little GoPro and would record what I see and share it. I later started photography with an Olympus Tg4 and upgraded to my actual camera, a Sony a6500, about 3 years ago.
I shoot this Sony a6500 in a Fantasea Housing. Depending on the conditions, I usually shoot Nudibranchs with only 1 strobe (I use a Sea&Sea YS-D2, recently updated to a Sea&Sea YS-D3), just because most of them are pretty small and one strobe does more than enough. A must have, especially for very small nudibranchs is a diopter or a macro lens: I find a +10/+15 very good for subjects until 1cm. A great camera to start nudibranch photography is the Olympus Tg6: amazing macro mode, waterproof, small in size and very affordable.
Goniobranchus kuniei Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Goniobranchus kuniei Nudibranch by Charly Clérisse
What is your favorite Nudibranch and where can you find them?
That is a hard question!! I love Pikachu Nudibranchs (Thecacera genus) and Sheep Nudibranchs (Costasiella genus) but I have to say to take pictures I have a soft spot for Flabellinas, specially the ones in the Mediterranean: very common, beautiful colors and "fluffy" ceratas on the back make them great subjects for Underwater Photography. 
Costasiella sea slug by Charly Clerisse
Costasiella Sea Slug by  Charly Clérisse
Your go-to resource for identifying nudibranchs or other creatures you see underwater?
I have used apps before, but nothing beats a big fat nudibranch ID book! I love scrolling through the page and looking at all the pictures, wondering if I will manage to see them all! I also look for books about the local area where I am diving. Sometimes if I can identify the main characteristics of a nudibranch I will google it and try my luck to find it, but it is less fun!
Doriprismatica atromarginata Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Doriprismatica atromarginata Nudibranch by  Charly Clérisse
Where is your favorite place to dive or explore the ocean? Also where are a few places at the top of your bucket list?
Everywhere! I love diving, in hot or cold water, coral reefs or deep wrecks, it doesn't matter! Although for nudibranch hunting, I could not recommend Bali more, especially the North-East (Amed - Tulamben area): all the dives are from the shore, and they are loads of guides that are excellent and will help you find whatever you ask for. The biodiversity of macro life concentrated there is insane: on a single dive, you could find loads of nudibranchs, frogfish, leaf fish, octopus and many many more. Some places that are on the top of my list is Raja Ampat (Indonesia), El Nido (Phillipines) and Cabo San Lucas (Mexico).
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Hypselodoris Nudibranch by  Charly Clérisse
Your goals for underwater photography or diving. 
My goal would be to live off my Underwater Photography. I have been published and mentioned a few times and this is pushing me to keep on going forward. I want to invest in a bigger setup and start competing seriously and see what happens!
Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Nudibranch by  Charly Clérisse
Lastly, some tips and tricks for other underwater photographers who are just getting started. 
Dive, dive, dive and dive! Good buoyancy skills are vital, and that can't be taught in the books! Getting comfortable in the water first will make you a better Underwater Photographer. Also, by getting experience in an area, you will able to find the nicer subjects for your pictures: don't focus on finding the "coolest" stuff, but instead on the more cooperative ones. They will give you time to compose your shots and the final result will be better! Don't waste your time on uncooperative subjects.
Headshield Slug by Charly Clerisse
Headshield Slug by  Charly Clérisse
Hypselodoris tryonii Nudibranch by Charly Clerisse
Hypselodoris tryonii Nudibranch by  Charly Clérisse
Thanks to Charly for the writing and beautiful photos in this #PhotographerSpotlight - be sure to follow him on Instagram at  @diving_charly  💕⁠ which photo is your favorite?⁠
Do you know someone that loves Nudibranchs & takes great photos of them? Email me so I can reach out!

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