‘Cephalotography’ Of The Week: Matt Testoni

Howdy Nation! In today’s post, we are going to be featuring some of our favorite cephalotography by underwater diver: Matt Testoni. A photographer and biologist who loves the ocean, Matt is taking us on a big dive into his work with underwater photography. Get ready to be obcephed!

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Mr. Matt Testoni!

Meet Matt Testoni!

We’re sooooo excited to officially introduce the the cephalopod whisperer himself, Mr. Matt Testoni! You might have noticed his work on OctoNation before and he is here today for us to spotlight his ink-credible underwater photography!

At the moment, Matt is based on the Great Southern Reef in Australia and enjoys looking for and photographing all the amazing and unique sea animals that call it home.

Through his photography, he wants to capture the amazing world under the sea, and hopefully, inspire and provoke the same feelings of freedom and awe that he gets from exploring the world of the ocean!

How amazing is that? Let’s dive in & find out more!

How long have you been an underwater photographer?

“I have been doing underwater photography for 10 years!”

Maori Octopus (Macroctopus maorum) By: Matt Testoni

Where do you mainly dive and take underwater photos? How often do you go? 

“I will dive ANYWHERE! Although, at the moment, my work is mainly focused on the waters around the bottom of Australia on the Great Southern Reef.

I dive whenever possible!”

Day Octopus at Lady Elliot Island lagoon, Great Barrier Reef, Australia By: Matt Testoni

How long do you dive for? Do you normally go alone? 

“I typically dive anywhere from 30 minutes (when the winter water is 48.2°F / 9° C) to hours on end with my multi tank setup.

A multitank setup is when you have several scuba tanks attached to a single harness. This lets me stay underwater for a longer time and use less air.”

Southern Sand Octopus (Octopus kaurna) Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia By: Matt Testoni

Are you known for having a certain type of style when it comes to your photos? How do you capture the creature that is in front of the camera just the way you want?

“I love and try so many styles of photos but currently, I have two favourites I like to work with.

1. Snoots. These are simply tubes (or funnels) of plastic, cardboard, or metal that attach to the front of a flash unit on a camera. They are used to control the direction of light coming from the flash, allowing for more creative lighting effects!

2. Split. This is a technique in underwater photography that shows both above and below the water.”

1. Snoots Example: Southern White Spot Octopus (Callistoctopus bunurong) Hobart, Tasmania, Australia By: Matt Testoni
2. Split Example: Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) By: Matt Testoni

What do you like most about being an underwater photographer? 

“I have to say my photography is an incredible motivator to go diving. Plus, it lets me meet some awesome sea animals!”

“Peekaboo” Maori Octopus (Macroctopus maorum) Westernport Bay, Victoria, Australia By: Matt Testoni

Who (or what) are your biggest influences?

“Definitely a fan of the one and only David Attenborough. His passion for encouraging people to become engaged with the natural world is a huge drive for me.”

Have you received any awards or recognition?

“One of my biggest moments was winning the olympus Australia competition with a photo of a gorgeous CEPHALOPOD!” (pictured below)

2020 Olympus Australia Photo Competition Winner: Southern Reef Squid By: Matt Testoni

Do you have a favorite species you like to take pictures of?

“I absolutely love taking photos of the Maori Octopus and any animal in the seahorse family! They just have so much character to them.”

Maori Octopus (Macroctopus maorum) Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia By: Matt Testoni

How do you know where to find an octopus or cephalopod to take pictures of?

“There are different ways to find new places. Sometimes it is by hearing about it from someone. Or, sometimes you find new places by yourself!

I always look for good hiding spots with a few crab claws nearby. That way, I can find octopuses more easily. I also look for deep nighttime seagrass meadows.”

Southern Keeled Octopus in the seagrass fields of Port Phillip Bay on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia By: Matt Testoni

What draws you in or fascinates you the most about cephalopods? When did this start for you? 

“It’s been the last 5 years that they have really amazed me. Ever since I had a few close encounters and I realised these octopuses are just so unique and interesting, not to mention smart!

I also read the book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, and it really made me appreciate just how unique cephalopods are.”

Blue-Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena) Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia By: Matt Testoni

What’s your most memorable underwater photoshoot? 

“One of my favourite dives was with a huge Maori Octopus that was so interested in me and my camera. It just stayed with my for half an hour checking me and the camera out. I got the best pictures!”

Maori Octopus (macroctopus Maorum) Westernport Bay, Victoria, Australia By: Matt Testoni

What’s the best place for people to discover your work (website, social media)? 

“You can find me on my Instagram @matt_testoni_photography and my website!”

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

Did you know the Bobtail Squid absorbs bioluminescent bacteria to mimic starlight in their bodies? I mean is there anything cooler than that!!!

Bobtail Squid (Sepiolida) By: Matt Testoni

Thank You For Joining Us For Photographer Spotlight!

First, we want to give a big thank you to Matt Testoni for allowing us to showcase your beautiful photos on OctoNation. To continue supporting Matt and his underwater cephalotography, make sure to follow them on Instagram and on Facebook. If you are interested in commissioning a piece from them, fill out this contact form!

If you are interested in commissioning a piece from Matt Testoni, fill out this contact form!

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

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