A commute to work that is but a short boat ride to the “office”. Combining passion with bringing awareness to environmental conservation. This month’s selected Photographer of the Month is a great example of how following your passion in life can lead to great things.
Check out these picture perfect scenes by photographer and marine conservationist, Hamid Rad, and read his tips and techniques for great underwater photography.
Interview with Hamid Rad – Maldives Photographer of the Month
Q1. What made you get into underwater photography and photography in general?
Hamid: I got hooked by photography through my passion for nature & wildlife, more specifically the world that lies beneath the surface.
Q2. How would you describe your style of photography and what you want to “say” with your photographs?
Hamid: I am trying to aim towards a minimalist approach of photography by trying to keep compositions simple, using natural light rather than strobes and strong contrasts. I really enjoy silhouette shots as they emphasize all these points.
Q3. When did you first go to the Maldives and what attracted you to go there? Was photography a motivation or an afterthought?
Hamid: I come from a marine conservation background and always wanted to wonder the abundance & diversity of Maldivian waters. As a photographer, to work in such a place offers unique opportunities and a chance to witness some of the most unique natural events such as the seasonal manta ray gatherings in Hanifaru Bay, in Baa atoll which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Q4. What are some of the challenges of underwater photography and how do you overcome them? What are some of the most challenging things you have photographed?
Hamid: The main challenges of shooting underwater are colour loss & lack of light, especially if you intend not to use artificial light (strobes). The deeper you go, the less light penetrates and warm colours are less visible. Most underwater photographers use strobes in order to compensate for the lack of natural light & have vibrant colours.
Amongst the most challenging creatures to photographer in the Maldives, sharks can be tricky subjects, and not because of their reputation of fearsome reputation. On the contrary, their natural wariness can make it difficult to get close enough for a good shot.
Q5. Where are your favourite spots, above and below the surface, to take photographs in the Maldives? What makes them stand out?
Hamid: Ari atoll holds a special place for me as it is where I first started working in the Maldives and offers an incredible array of marine life and types of diving. Some sites such as Hafsa Thila or Fish Head in north Ari atoll or Cocoa Thila in south Male boast with life, from small critters to grey reef sharks, napoleon wrasses & schools of jackfish & fusilliers.
Some other sites such as Hanifaru Bay in Baa atoll or Gangehi in north Ari atoll, with seasonal planktonic blooms, see large gatherings of manta rays & whale sharks.
Q6. What is it like to stay in the Maldives? Tell us about your average day when you’re there.
Hamid: “Another long day at the office”, something I keep telling myself every day, ‘commuting’ to work with a short boat ride, thinking my life working in a cold, crowded city was just a dream.
Q7. What is one thing you wish you knew before you started taking photographs in the Maldives (or in general)? Do you have any tips for visitors trying to capture their moments in the region?
Hamid: I can say that the Maldives met my expectations in terms of photography. For underwater photographers, I believe the Maldives is a place where you have to come back to and get a chance to explore different areas, offering a variety of photographic opportunities. Check seasonal events ahead of time such as planktonic blooms bringing mantas & whale sharks and time your visit to be able to witness them.
Q8. What technology/software/camera gear do you use to capture and process your stunning tropical & underwater scenes?
Hamid: I use a Canon 600D SLR & mostly shoot using a wide angle Tokina 10-17 lens in a Nauticam housing.
Q9. If your camera was to get stuck in one mode or setting, what one would you hope it would be? Why?
Hamid: Automatic I guess, necessary adjustments can then be made in post processing.
Q10. What projects do you have in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing?
I try to show my work as much as possible and plan to do a photo show of large prints sometime in 2015.
About Hamid Rad: Before focusing on underwater photography, Hamid had been involved in different aspects of tropical marine conservation in Mexico, Honduras, the Seychelles & the Maldives, from daily data gathering on coral reefs to working with communities on local environment management policies. Being in the water day after day gave him the opportunity to develop a passion for underwater photography. Establishing his own style, he refined his work to a minimalistic approach, working mostly with natural light, on basic composition & tones.
People care about what they know. Through photography, Hamid found a way to reach people and raise their awareness about the fragility & vanishing beauty of our oceans. View more of his impressive work here on, Flickr, Facebook and his website.
Make the Maldives your destination of choice for 2015, and kick off the year with some great deals on liveaboard tours. So far, both Theia and Emperor Atoll are showing their excitement for the New Year with January and February deals. Find the deal that caters to your Maldivian Dive Holiday Dream, here on our News Page.