Making a splash
Laura Cartledge learns how combining hobbies is going swimmingly for one Eastbourne business.
Dee Hamer has always been one to follow her passions.
First a talent for swimming took her around the world, and then a love of parenthood and photography led her to launching her own business.
“It was a case of ‘I don’t know why I am not doing this?’” she says of the latter.
And when you hear the journey which inspired The Underwater Studio, it is easy to see why.
“I’ve been swimming since I was quite young, I did competitive swimming for a long time and then I went to the states and got my scholarship,” recalls Dee, explaining how she found herself at the University of Louisiana.
“I knew someone out there who was playing football, well ‘soccer’, and I got it in my head that I wanted to go away,” she smiles, “I still can’t believe my parents let me go.”
It was while she was there that she was given the opportunity to make scuba diving part of her studies and Dee reveals ‘it all went from there’.
One of the earliest trips was to Thailand for Dee to gain her diving instructor qualification, stopping off briefly at home to ‘borrow’ some things she might need.
“My dad was a sailor, and a while before he had done a round-the-world yacht race so we had bought a camera for him that wouldn’t matter if it got wet,” she reveals.
“I don’t know if I asked as such, it was probably a case of ‘dad, I am taking this, ok?’”
Despite remembering how she’d get the film developed and only find ‘one or two’ were up to standard, Dee admits she soon enjoyed combining her two hobbies.
However it wasn’t until later, back at a poolside, that she was given the nudge to make it her profession.
“I had my children, my eldest was born in 2007, and I took him to baby swimming classes,” Dee explains.
“The teacher, who is a good friend of mine now, used a company for the underwater photography which I had thought about doing for a while…”
So in 2008 she did and, it seems, Dee hasn’t looked back since.
“It has gone from strength to strength,” she confesses. “It used to be quite ‘out there’ but now it is not so much of a novelty – which is good for us because it means more people want it.
“There are companies who make it a bit like a conveyor belt. I really want to make sure it is done properly and is fun,” Dee enthuses.
“If the kids are having fun you are going to get good pictures.”
Which will no doubt be music to the ears of any parent who has tried to get their child to sit still and say cheese.
In fact, in Dee’s experience, it tends to be the adults who are apprehensive about the underwater shoot while even the smallest of babies take to it like a duck to water.
“They have an in-built diving reflex that kicks in up to about a year old,” she insists.
“Sometimes they have a bit of a gulp of water but most of the time they open their mouth to take a breath ready to go under – it is amazing to watch.”
Hearing Dee’s passion it is obvious it is not just the clients who are having a good time.
“I do love working with kids and I get to float around in the water all day… well, not all day, there is a lot of work behind the scenes,” concedes Dee.
“I think my favourite part is being in the water with the children, but I do love seeing the messages from parents who have the pictures up on their walls.”
With Mother’s Day this month it is a busy time for Dee, as the photographs make for popular gifts, but that isn’t stopping her from planning more work.
“I am trying to venture into videos as well and I would like to go into more commercial work too,” she reveals.
“I have done a few photoshoots with jewellery brands and bands.
“I would like to go out and do more creative things, just some really funky stuff.”
To find out more about The Underwater Studio, visit www.theunderwaterstudio.net
or call 07894 221547.
February 26, 2016 Business and Investments