Cathy Lewis worked as a magazine editor for over 20 years, then had a career change in 2011 to follow her passion for horticulture and design. She lives in Bristol, south west England, with husband Chris who is also a keen diver and an accomplished underwater videographer.

“Underwater photography is challenging, often frustrating but never dull. You’re working in an alien environment, sometimes in poor visibility and strong currents. I think the rewards are amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to dive in fabulous locations around the world, from pristine coral reefs to the wild rocky shores of Scotland’s Cape Wrath. Marine life highlights include manta rays, humpback whales, playful seals and many encounters with inquisitive squid, cuttlefish and octopus – my favourite creatures.

I was introduced to diving in 1984 by my adventure-loving friend Tina, who took me to Wast Water in the Lake District on a freezing cold November day. The hail was horizontal, my wetsuit didn’t fit, and there was nothing to see. I thought she was mad. Luckily for me a beginner’s course in Port Douglas, Australia during a year’s travelling changed my mind. I joined Clifton Sub Aqua Club when I returned and never looked back.

Photography seemed a natural progression, to add another element to my diving. I loved seeing the images other photographers had taken and wanted to show non-diving friends some of the spectacular life and scenery beneath the sea. Having no photography experience I had to master the unforgiving Nikonos 5 camera from scratch - a challenge for a non-techy person like me. It took some help from experts Alan James, Gordon James and Martin Edge (thank you!) to achieve anything I was relatively happy with. I progressed on to an SLR Nikon F90X film camera and now use a Nikon D7000 digital SLR in a Nauticam housing. For lighting, I use twin YS110 Sea and Sea strobes. Favourite lenses include the Nikon 60mm and 105mm macro, 10.5mm fisheye, and occasionally the 18-50mm, 12-24mm, and 20mm portrait lenses.

I am a member of the Bristol Underwater Photography Group (BUPG) and the British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP). I enjoy learning from other members’ expertise and sharing my photographic experiences with them.

For me, taking a camera underwater is like treasure hunting, looking for a scene or subject to get that perfect shot. I’m still looking - and enjoying every minute of it.”

Competitions and awards
2001
* 1st, BSoUP Beginner’s Portfolio competition
* Highly Commended, Image 2001, British Prints awards
* Silver, Image 2001, Splash-in competition, Stoney Cove
2002
* 1st, BSoUP Best of British Portfolio competition
2003
* Gold, Image 2003, Special British Awards portfolio
* Awarded Associate of the Royal Photographic Society - Nature Panel
2004
* 1st, BSoUP splash-in competition, Macro category
2005
* 3rd, BSoUP splash-in competition, Close up digital category
2006
* 1st, St Abbs Splash-in competition, Marine Life Portrait
* Best digital image, St Abbs Splash-in competition
2007
* Silver, BSoUP Splash-in competition, Fish category
2008
* 1st, BSoUP Splash-in competiition, Fish category
* 1st, St Abbs Splash-in competition, Marine Life Portrait
* 1st, St Abbs Splash-in competition, Reserve Atmospheric
2009
* Grand prize winner, BSoUP Splash-in competition
* Runner up, UK, BSoUP print competition
* Runner up, Overseas, BSoUP print competition
2010
* Winner, Advanced Overseas, BSoUP print competition
* Highly commended, BSoUP print competition
* 1st, BSoUP Splash-in competition, close up category
2011
* 3rd, British Underwater Image Festival, UK category
* 1st, British Underwater Photography Championships, The Wildlife Trusts’ Living Seas category
* Runner up, British Underwater Photography Championships, Mankind in the Seas
2014
* Grand prize winner, BSoUP Splash-in competition
* 3rd, BSoUP Open Portfolio competition
2015
* 3rd, Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, International Animal Behaviour
* Commended, Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, UK Macro
* 1st, BSoUP Open Portfolio competition
2016
* 3rd, Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, British Macro
* Commended, Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, British Macro
* Overall winner, British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship