Matt Draper has teamed up with Byron Bay Dive Centre to offer exclusive photography tuition workshops located at the incredible dive site of Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. No photography or diving experience is needed. You will be provided with all of the necessary diving equipment including the use of a professional digital camera and underwater housing. Private tuition includes class, pool and ocean time.

Byron Bay Dive Centre is Byron Bay’s leading dive, snorkel and whale watching specialist. The local diving facility was established over 20 years ago and since then its goal has always been to ensure customers enjoy a safe, rewarding and memorable experience. Matt has been travelling to Julian Rocks with the Dive Centre for over two years. With well over 100 dives at the marine reserve, Matt is very familiar with the location, weather conditions and marine life. He is proud to be the first person in the area offering private tuition without the need of scuba certification. With a maximum of 3 people per workshop, Matt can utilise his time and ensure there is as much one-on-one tuition as possible.

The trip to Julian Rocks is almost as exciting as the diving itself. Often Bottlenose dolphins will accompany the dive boats on the short journey from The Pass. From May until October, Humpback whales pass Byron Bay on their annual migration and can easily be spotted from the safety of the boat. You may even be fortunate enough to spot a Scalloped Hammerhead shark on the way.

Julian Rocks is one of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites. The reserve is home to three different species of sea turtle, an assortment of rays including Bull and Cownose, hard and soft corals, various sharks and over 400 different species of fish. All of this is only a five-minute boat ride from Byron Bay.

During cooler winter months critically endangered Grey Nurse sharks visit Julian Rocks. Although these sharks look fearsome they are quite shy and very safe to dive with. The extremely bright and well-patterned Leopard sharks can be seen on almost every dive during mid-summer when the waters are warmer. Also in summer and early autumn huge Manta rays cruise elegantly through the waters surrounding the rock feeding on tiny plankton completely undisturbed by inquisitive divers.

With the help of social media, there has never been more individuals showing such a positive interest in the preservation of our oceans and the life force that inhabits it.  Matt has noticed an ever growing number of people reaching out to him with questions regarding the marine life he swims with and the photography equipment he uses daily. For this reason he couldn’t think of a better time to start sharing his love for the ocean and photography by running exclusive tuition workshops for groups and individuals alike.

When are the two, tuition workshops available?

Workshop One:

Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of January 2017.

Workshop Two:

Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of February 2017.

Do I need any photography experience?

No photography experience is needed. Tuition workshops cater for anyone from entry level to advanced photographers who want to improve their underwater skills.

Do I need any free diving experience or diving certifications?

No diving experience is needed, although you must be able to swim and have a moderate to good level of fitness. Individuals who don’t hold any recognised free diving certifications will not be permitted to use weights while diving at Julian Rocks.

Do I need my own camera and water housing?

No camera equipment is required but it is recommended you bring your own if possible. Matt will provide two of his own cameras and water housing's. Although he is confident in his skills, Matt isn't an expert on every camera model meaning knowledge of your own camera menus and functions is a priority.

Do I need my own diving equipment?

The Dive Centre (depending on availability of sizes) can provide mask, snorkel, fins and a wetsuit. We highly recommend bringing your own equipment if possible, especially if you own a wetsuit. The Dive Centres wetsuits are more suited for scuba divers and can be very buoyant when used for snorkelling.

What credentials does Matt have?

Matt is a self-taught photographer. He has been practising underwater photography for close to two years and is very confident in his skills. As a photographer, Matt wants to help others the best he can. Classes are catered to each individual student and what they personally want to learn. Matt is an advanced scuba diver and an Apnea accredited free diver who has spent his whole life around the ocean. He has certificates in advanced resuscitation, emergency life support and senior first aid. Matt also holds a bronze medallion credited by the Australian Lifesaving Academy. 

What does the first day of tuition consist of?

Please Note: Time spent on each subject may vary depending on each individual’s skill level.

Please Note: The Dive Centre facilities will be very busy over summer.

Meet and greet.

Anywhere from 3 to 4 hours of photography tuition - in class.

Lunch - 30min to 1 hour.

1 to 2 hours of practical tuition - in pool.

Up to an hour of basic editing tuition.

Summary of day one.

What does the second (final) day of tuition consist of?

Please Note: Time spent on each subject may vary depending on each individual’s skill level.

Please Note: The Dive Centre facilities will be very busy over summer.

Safety briefing and equipment allocation.

First 1 hour practical (snorkel/free dive) tuition - Julian Rocks.

Very short break.

Second 1 hour practical (snorkel/free dive) tuition - Julian Rocks.

Image review and summary of the two dives (snorkel/free dives) at Julian Rocks.

Basic editing of images.

Summary of workshop.

How many people will there be on each workshop?

Each workshop will run with a maximum of 4 people to ensure as much one-on-one tuition as possible.

Where do I meet and what time?

Workshop One:

Day One - 8am.

Day Two - 7am. 

Please Note: Don't be late on day two as you will miss the first dive.

Workshop Two

Day One - 8am

Day Two - 7am.

Please Note: Don't be late on day two as you will miss the first dive.

9 Marvell Street, Byron Bay, New South Wales, 2481, Australia.

Day One should be finished around 3pm.

The finishing time of day two may vary.

Where can I park for free?

Byron Bay has recently installed parking meters throughout the CBD. The closet free parking to the Dive Centre is located on Tennyson Street outside the tennis club, which is less than a 5 minute walk from the Dive Centre.

What are some of the subjects that will be covered in the photography tuition class and pool session?

Shutter speed.

Aperture and depth of field.


Light meter and metering mode.

Custom white balance and presets.

Auto focus mode.

Focal points.

Drive mode.

Formatting memory cards.

Assembly and maintenance of camera and water housing.

Basic to intermediate composition.

Split (under-over) photography techniques.

Basic to intermediate techniques on how to better photograph and interact with marine life.

Relaxation techniques to use while diving.

Cleaning and dismantling of camera and water housing.

Organisation and cataloging of images.

Editing images for print.

Where is the pool session held?

The pool session is also held at the Byron Bay Dive Centre.

What happens in the briefing?

A DVD will be shown regarding the journey to Julian Rocks. This will cover facts and info on the boat launch, marine life, and other important safety aspects to consider. 

Will we still head to Julian Rocks if the water visibility isn't very good?

If it is safe to launch the boat from The Pass and the weather conditions are favourable we will head to Julian Rocks. Swell, strong winds and poor water visibility are some of the main contributing elements that can cause the boats to be cancelled.

How much time will I get in the water at Julian Rocks?

Each dive (snorkel/free dive) will give you close to 1 hour depending on the weather conditions.

Who will be in the water with me?

As well as Matt, there will be one water safety personnel in the water and a skipper watching from the boat.

Will I see all of the animals mentioned above?

Julian Rocks is one of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites. It is well known for its abundance of marine life. Working with wild animals means there is never going to be a guarantee of seeing any one particular animal.

Is there a shower I can use once we get back to the Dive Centre?

The Dive Centre has toilets, drinking water, change rooms and hot showers.

What do I need to bring?


A portable hard drive or USB to take your images home - this is paramount.

All camera equipment you currently own or use with at least one charged battery.

Camera water housing if you own one.

Your own laptop and editing software that you use - please make sure your laptop is charged.

Your own diving equipment and wetsuit if you own either.

A warm, water/wind proof jacket.

One or two towels.

Thin booties or socks to wear inside fins.

Light snacks, lunch and a drink bottle.

Any medication you may need/use such as an asthma inhaler or sea-sickness tablets.

Sunblock and a hat.

How much does the workshop cost?

All prices are listed in Australian (AUD) dollars. Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may be changed at anytime without notice. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed.

$750.00 per individual student.

What if I cancel?

Cancelations outside of 72 hours will receive a refund of $550.00

Will the workshop still go ahead if the conditions are not suitable for Julian Rocks on the second day?

Yes, the Day One Workshop will still go ahead. You will be offered the choice of rescheduling the (Day Two Workshop) second day of journeys to Julian Rocks at a later date or  a refund of $200.00

Current dates available:

Simply click on the preferred workshop to make your booking. 

Workshop One:


Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of January 2017.

Workshop Two:


Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of February 2017.