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DEEP DIVE

DEEP DIVE

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Taking a DEEP DIVE into the life and work of underwater photographer Romona Robbins Reynolds.

Photos by Romona Robbins Photography

To say that everyone is a photographer these days is an understatement. There are more than 7 billion shutterbugs on the planet, with well over 75 million of them trying to make a living at it (based on the sales numbers for professional cameras). So it’s not an easy road for an artist. 

To make matters worse, having a “good eye” is rarely the differentiating “it” factor anymore. Expertise and originality have become an afterthought to those who market themselves the most aggressively and/or have social media numbers strong enough to justify a big hire. Thankfully, there’s still a way that artistry and talent win out in such a saturated market, but only for those willing to go a little deeper with their craft. 

Meet Romona Robbins Reynolds of Romona Robbins Photography, a world-class photographer who has quietly carved out an internationally recognized career spanning two decades. Her exceptional balance of technical mastery and artistic style comes by way of a fine arts background, a degree in biological science, and a stint as a professional runway model herself. All of this, combined with an insatiable wanderlust and all of the creative benefits that come with extensive and immersive travel, forged a multifaceted photographer with an eye for visual storytelling in various genres, from fashion and food to travel and editorial. But over the years, Romona’s true passion in photography has slowly emerged from the depths of a forbidden past. 

Romona, the daughter of a prominent officer in the Air Force Combat Controllers, grew up as a military brat. While she was raised in a biracial family to be independent, book smart, and street-savvy, her father drew the line at her scuba diving. 

“My dad was old school, but the last thing he wanted was for me to be a helpless girl who didn’t know how to change a flat tire,” says Romona. “He taught me a lot, but even though he was a scuba instructor, that’s where he drew the line. It just wasn’t something he was comfortable with his only daughter doing. But I’m a Pisces, and I’ve always had a love for the ocean, and after my dad passed unexpectedly in 2003, I found myself drawn to the water more than ever before. And it was something I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of.”

So Romona built an aquatic lifestyle as organically as she built her life in photography. And those two lives inevitably combined into her ultimate passion, underwater photography. Not only was it a logical progression, but it was also convenient for a creative and adventurous professional who isn’t big on talking about herself, much less marketing her work. From the beginning, Romona’s work was built on word of mouth. Relying solely on such a strategy for a photographer typically limits the lifespan of one’s professional career, but when you take a visual craft into an unknown world, it creates the opportunity to show people something they’ve never seen before. And what’s more unknown on this planet than the underwater world? 

Living in Florida, it seems that swimming is second nature. But it’s said that more than half of all Americans either can’t swim or can’t swim safely enough to save themselves. Fear of what lies below affects many of those who can swim. So, what most people picture when they think of the underwater world is based entirely on those who are brave enough to frame it for them. And that makes it easier to stand out from all the other photographers who are clicking away in the comfort and safety of the everyday world. More importantly, it educates us through artistry. As Romona puts it, “The oceans are the foundation of life and the key to our future, so the more we show the beauty and reality of that world, the more people will respect it.”

Today, Romona is a certified scuba instructor and has logged dives all over the world (with her underwater camera rig in hand, of course). She finds inspiration in finding the small, detailed creatures hiding in the reef when she’s shooting macro, but her true passion is shooting the big fish, particularly sharks. After a lifetime of fearing them, she’s learned the reality of their importance and their true nature by sharing space with them, which made her fall in love with documenting them as she sees them in the hope of changing their usual scary perception. 

In the end, soulful, technical artistry will always find an audience. This is why Romona’s photography speaks such volumes, because it comes from her heart.

Romona Robbins Photography
(850) 240-9642
romonarobbins.com

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