5 MIN READ

3-5-2024

Creator Spotlight:
Rayna O’Nan

Henry Bliss, 4ocean Story Producer

We sat down with Rayna O’Nan and learned more about her career in underwater photography.

Rayna O’Nan, a local underwater photographer and scuba instructor based out of Palm Beach Florida unveiled her fascinating journey into the world beneath the waves during our insightful conversation. Her deep-seated passion for both diving and photography traces back to her childhood, fueled by a constant sense of wanderlust cultivated by her father, a flight attendant. Rayna's early exposure to photography became a means to share her travels with friends and family.

The transformative chapter in her photo journey commenced when she became a scuba instructor in the captivating Florida Keys. Originally from North Carolina and graduating with a degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Rayna found herself irresistibly drawn to the ocean, eventually settling in Palm Beach County after three and a half years in the Florida Keys.

The allure of showcasing the ocean's wonders to her friends in North Carolina prompted Rayna's first investment in a small compact camera, marking the inception of her deep love for photography. In the Florida Keys, she wore multiple hats, working at a scuba diving shop, teaching photography classes, and undertaking various photography jobs.

Rayna's decision to move to Palm Beach County was fueled by an unshakeable attraction to the northern oceans, which she describes as a well-kept secret. Her camera setup includes the Canon R5 in a Nauticam underwater housing with a handy GoPro, all honed with the assistance of Reef Photo in Fort Lauderdale.

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Beyond her lens, Rayna actively engages in ocean conservation. She collaborates with the Coral Restoration Foundation, involving students in coral tree cleaning and outplanting. Additionally, she manages Calypso Diving Charters in Palm Beach, Florida.

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Reflecting on her unexpected journey into professional photography, Rayna highlights the limitations of photos in fully capturing the depth and emotion of underwater encounters. Her favorite ocean hue is deep blue, and she emphasizes continuous learning and improvement in the dynamic realm of underwater photography.

Rayna's advice to aspiring underwater photographers centers on building comfort underwater and, starting small, recommending the Olympus TG6 camera for beginners. Her preference for freediving when shooting larger animals contrasts with scuba diving for capturing smaller marine life.

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In a recent dive off Palm Beach, Rayna encountered her first great white shark, an encounter she describes as gracefully awe-inspiring. Her favorite animal encounters include photographing family-oriented mammals like dolphins in the Bahamas, Palm Beach manatees, and whales.

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Rayna's commitment to ocean conservation extends to her involvement with 4ocean, bringing the signature Clean Up Bag on every dive. She believes in the power of a shared passion for a cleaner ocean to unite people, emphasizing the need to shed light on oceanic pollution and its impact on marine life. Her future plans include a journey to the Maldives and a continued dedication to using her lens for ocean advocacy. Through her prints, available on her website and locally in Florida, Rayna captures the ocean's beauty and strives to inspire awareness and action for a healthier, cleaner underwater world.

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See more of Rayna’s work at:
@oceanraysphotography oceanraysphotography.com

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