Freedive Photographer Michael DK – Suahuatica

In episode #31, host Brett Stanley is strapping on the fins and talking with freedive photographer Michael DK – also known as Suahuatica. Originally from the Netherlands, Michael grew up on a sailboat with his parents – sailing around the Mediterranean and nurturing a love of the ocean.

We chat about his experiences travelling the world shooting in underwater caves, why he’s using his mobile phone to take more photos these days, and how he uses Instagram as a way to meet new people and clients.

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About Michael DK – Freedive Photographer

With my photography I am always looking for the most elegant, purest form of expression possible of the human body in an aquatic environment. I am highly inspired by impressionistic painters and try to incorporate qualities of their art into my work. Stark lighting and majestic underwater scenery are my favorite ingredients.

“Having grown up on a sailing ship, I feel at home on and in the water. It is a completely natural environment for me, where I can combine my passion for art and freediving. I want to share the beauty of the underwater environment with the world, and enjoy capturing the human form in elegant and majestic ways in the aquatic medium.
With my background of art-education I can apply principles of the classic painters to my photography, and that way provide a level of beauty that is unrivaled. Not only that, but I am friendly, fun and easy going – working with me is a pleasurable experience where you not only gain beautiful images of yourself, but learn to be more comfortable in the water, perhaps dive deeper and get to know one of the most beautiful areas of the Mediterranean.”



Podcast Transcript

EP 31 – Michael DK

Brett Stanley: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week we’re strapping on the fins and talking to free dive photographer, Michael DK. Also known as Suahuatica originally from the Netherlands, Michael grew up on a sailboat with his parents, sailing around the Mediterranean and nurturing a love of the ocean. We chat about his experiences, traveling the world, shooting underwater caves, and why he’s using his mobile phone to take more photos these days.

And we also talk about how he uses Instagram as a way to meet new people and clients. Also this week, I’ve got some admin type updates as we’re moving to a fortnightly schedule. The world is opening up a little bit these days. And so people are getting a bit busier and harder to pin down as the work comes back in me included. So to take the pressure off, we’ll drop a new episode every two weeks for the next couple of months.

Also, we’ve just launched a range of underwater podcast merchandise as a way to say thank you for listening, but also as a way that you can help support the show. We’ve got some really cool sticker packs, some beer cozies, coffee mugs, and posters, all featuring our awesome logo and illustration and created by the very talented Joe Hoddinott.

Check it all out at www.Theunderwaterpodcast.com Or hit the link in the show notes. Okay. Let’s dive in. 

Michael. Welcome to down the water podcast.

Michael: [00:01:11] thank you very much, Brett pleasure to be here.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:13] How are you? You’re from the Netherlands originally, but you’re not there right now. Are you?

Michael: [00:01:17] No, I’m, I’m rarely there actually. I’ve, I’ve been born there and I am very grateful that my passport is from there. but I, I usually travel to places where the border is a bit clearer and the weather is a bit warmer for obvious reasons.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:29] Yeah. So where are you right now?

Michael: [00:01:31] I mean Aruba, which is a small Island, a above Venezuela. I can actually see it on a clear day, which was quite a shock to me.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:38] So you can see it across the water.

Michael: [00:01:39] yeah, it’s like 30 kilometers out. That’s 20 something miles for the American people.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:44] That’s it? That’s crazy. So on a clear day it’s it’s, it’s just there.

Michael: [00:01:48] Yeah. And there’s, it’s, it’s actually, we get lots of, refugees here of, we, they, I guess I already feel like they belong or after six weeks, which is maybe not quite the case.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:56] Yeah. So what are you doing in a Ruber? Is, is this just part of you traveling and, and kind of living you.

Michael: [00:02:02] I’m not actually sure. I, I mean, I, I make these decisions quite, randomly in the sense that the world is full of coronavirus. I think you’ve noticed that as well. And I was looking for a place where I could go. And have like a relatively safe time, uh, which checked a lot of countries off the list. For example, I love Mexico.

It’s amazing, but coronavirus is not very well under control. I would love to go to the Florida Springs, same situation. So I was looking for a place that was quite like, had things under control and where in this case also had an insurance, the health insurance, and a robot offers that. So I can pay for it a little bit of money.

And if something happens to me, I don’t need to depend on my Dutch insurance, which might or might not, cover me.

And of course it had, it had clear water, which was of course, yeah. Maybe what I should have started with

Brett Stanley: [00:02:48] started with that, right? No, I think that’s the, that’s how the, the world has kind of shifted right now is that I want to go somewhere that’s safe in terms of the virus, you know, and having insurance is pretty important. And then, Oh, there’s also Nellis water here. That’s that’s a bonus.

Michael: [00:03:02] Yeah, some shipwrecks and there’s like two airplane wrecks and there’s all kinds of stuff. I still am slowly discovering. And like, I try to do one thing at a time, like just to be satisfied with just white Sandy bottom. And then maybe after a few weeks, I’m like, okay, let’s do turtles. And, and very slowly trying to, you know, find every object by itself and explore it and give it the time and justice that it.

You know, adjusted the time and, um, the love that it deserves rather than doing everything at once. I’m here for six months. I’ve there’s no rush.

Brett Stanley: [00:03:33] see, that’s beautiful. Cause a lot of us, we travel, we end up at a place and we’re like, Oh, we want to see everything. And we’ve got what we’ve got like two weeks to do it all then. Whereas you can take your time. You can just kind of explore and saver or there’s little bits and

Michael: [00:03:45] well, you can do the same. I mean, I, the re the reason I love underwater photography is because I go to places where I don’t, nobody has gone ideal situation, or people have gone, but nobody who is a photographer or the third situation like Mexico, where I was earlier this year is I go there and it’s a place which has been, you know, trodden.

but I go to these little nooks and crannies and places that nobody else goes or see them in a new way. And that kind of. That’s my main motivation. I really love that.

Brett Stanley: [00:04:12] Yeah. And so how are you finding these places? How are you kind of researching and kind of deciding where you’re going to end up.

Michael: [00:04:19] Oh, that’s a good question. I, honestly, I don’t part of my life is just biking and walking and exploring and. It’s just very natural for me to just go to the coast and go from one end to the other. And for example, in the Mediterranean and Cypress in Spain, where I usually am, in winter, I do the exploring with very quick dips, you know, 13 degrees C is not that nice to stay in for a long time.

And sort of 13 sales CS. I’m not sure what it is in Fahrenheit, but it’s pretty cold. And, and then in summer, when the things get better, I revisit those places and I spend like an hour in the water with like a model and the camera. So that’s kind of, I just, it’s just part of what I love doing. Just exploring and finding treasure

Brett Stanley: [00:05:00] Yeah, that’s amazing. And so how did you even get into doing underwater? I mean, the Netherlands isn’t particularly known for its its

Michael: [00:05:06] Yeah, I can imagine, I can imagine that you asked the question. Well, I grew up on a sailing ship. So, when I was two, my parents had a little sailing boat and they went to Spain with it. which of course I don’t remember, but I did put things in my genes. I guess it activated genes as you’d say. And, we stayed there for like a year and a half or two, I believe.

And then when we were S when I was seven, which is a long time ago, am I going to see my age year? we went to Spain, Portugal, and then I went to school in Portugal. And then we slowly, migrated through the entire Mediterranean with a larger ship, a 13 meter ship and all the way to Turkey. So that’s kind of the life I had, like on the sea and snorkeling and.

Not free diving, I guess, but you know, you go two, three meters to the bottom to pick up the watch that you dropped. And, I think the deepest I’ve ever dove,  I’ve never dived was a five meters when I dropped said watch. And my father was like, well, I have broken eardrums. You’ll have to go get it yourself.

So I was like, I was eight and a half or something at the time, eight or nine, and it was in Greece. And I think that was my first serious free diving and I quite vividly remember it. And I think that has kick-started at least the emotional side of it.

Brett Stanley: [00:06:16] Cause it’s that sort of, you know, you’ve lived the life. It’s not something that you kind of found later on. It was, you grew up in this watery kind of situation where you’re, you know, you’ve got all that access to all this places that, that is just

Michael: [00:06:31] Yeah. It’s a blessing and a nightmare, because at the same time, you can never quite recreate a Dillard conditions of the past. So there were no ships, very much less tourism. The water was clearer at the time because labile warming as the tendency to make the Mediterranean greener. there’s more plastic, you know, so things were quite idyllic.

There were like little sharks swimming around in a Mediterranean, which are very hard to see these days. there was like a giant seven meter blue shark in the Strait of Gibraltar, you know, which nowadays would be very rare to see. And it was just swimming on the, on the surface being hunted by Spanish fishermen later.

So these kind of things, they’re nice, but at the same time to get them again, I would need like a boat, which I don’t have access to easily. And, yeah, it’s just. A dream life that I’m kind of always wanting for, but never quite have

Brett Stanley: [00:07:18] Yeah. And is the Mediterranean, is that, is that a favorite spot of yours?

Michael: [00:07:24] Yes. Yes. There’s a, it’s like the first girlfriend that you have, I guess you will always leave an imprint or like the first love I also in the Mediterranean, I was, I think it was seven when I had my first little girlfriend and she had dark air green high eyes, and this kind of was a pattern for the future.

And the medicine is the same, like when you’ve re, when you’ve been raised in a spot and, you know, certain climates and smells and the chirping of sicarda and grease and the kind of rocks and the kind of. Scenery and the smell of pine trees, those things stick with you forever. And wherever I meet them, they would always be my home.

And, and the tropics where I am now is amazing. But this is, it doesn’t feel like home. To me, it feels like an awesome place, but it’s not my home.

Brett Stanley: [00:08:04] So different too, isn’t it? Cause I’ve been to Europe and I’ve been to Malta and Greece

Michael: [00:08:08] Oh, cool.

Brett Stanley: [00:08:09] swimming in those places and it, every time I’m there, it just reminds me of that, that, that awesome eighties film, Legon blue, the big blue, which is, that was my introduction to free diving in the Mediterranean.

Michael: [00:08:22] That is so interesting because so your first introduction to the Mediterranean has been a movie. Well, mine was, you know, my youth. So this creates the narrative and the association and the way you look at it, I guess. So that’s very cool.

Brett Stanley: [00:08:35] Absolutely. And then the idea of you having to swim five meters down to pick up your watch, you know, just reminds me of, of, you know, young kids in the Mediterranean, you know, learning how to swim and learning how to

Michael: [00:08:46] That is not as much a thing as the movies make it seem. So I don’t remember this it’s the first time I ever thought about this, but I don’t remember any kid except maybe some bodies’ like kids that lived on boats. Like I did, like from New Zealand, Australia, America, wherever they were from, which also might explain you my very mixed accent, which doesn’t sound typically Dutch, I guess.

but they. they snorkeled, but I don’t remember any local kids doing anything more than jumping in the water

Brett Stanley: [00:09:11] Uh, so maybe the movies kind of,

Michael: [00:09:13] Yeah. I think there’s a tradition of spear fishing. We end like sponge diving, which might. In some specific places, like, see me, I’ve been to see me. And I made a little video documentary on sponge diving together with a watch brand and invited me there. And I can imagine that there are people might be more into it, but I don’t really recall boys doing free diving anywhere in the Mediterranean.

Brett Stanley: [00:09:35] No. Okay. But it’s such a romantic kind of notion I think, and it always kind of speaks to me, you know, you’ve got those

Michael: [00:09:41] Sorry.

Brett Stanley: [00:09:41] and stuff, you know, it’s amazing.

so for your journey, how did you get into the underwater photography from being a kid who, who,  who lived on the water? How did you become someone photographed under the water?

Michael: [00:09:55] So my father had died when I was, 13 and he left me a beautiful Nikon film camera, like analog camera. and, I loved it already and I think I’ve, I’ve shot with it at some point, but my father was a very good photographer, very good eye for photography. And he, he definitely, you know, we were always watching.

slides projected in the boat and watching the adventures that we had. And I scandal those images as well, to preserve them. So photography was a very natural part of my life. And when he passed away, my mother of course gave me that camera, like here, go play with it. And I made a picture of a tree in the midst of when I was 13 and that’s, I think the first.

Like mentally conscious image I made as a 13 year old you’re, you know, you’re not a kid anymore. You’re like a young adult almost. And that picture, I guess, instilled some interest in landscape photography and in photography in general, the magic of you see something beautiful and you can show it to other people or remember it.

That was really nice. And I became very interested in amateur photography when digital cameras became a thing, which was, I’m going to show my age here. 1998, 1997, you could buy like a one megapixel digital camera. And, I went out with my bike, which is actually oddly enough, exactly what I do now. And I went out and I made pictures of stuff that I found beautiful, and I wanted to share it with, my friends, I guess.

And. Internet was quite a thing back then. So I, I’ve kind of been raised on the internet since 1994, which isn’t so different from how it is now. You had social networks like ICQ and you would have games and browsers and email, and it’s still kind of what you’re doing and Photoshop, which I was playing around with, from a very young age illegally, I should say.

Brett Stanley: [00:11:33] So you kind of, you got into this like really quite young, like the whole process of photography.

Michael: [00:11:39] I’m a very visual person. So my normal memory is quite bad. So I have my first girlfriend when I was 16, I’m a real girlfriend. I didn’t know her name after a week. I know how she looked. I knew what she wore, but I was like, Hey, you, so that’s very me. Like, I’m very bad with names and numbers, but I can remember pointless information visually.

I can recite people’s Instagrams that I’ve seen last week, and I can tell you which pictures are on there. And that’s very useless information to have. So, but my brain is very visual and, and I guess my imperfections, with names and numbers, and, and math and stuff like that, made me very attracted to everything.

Visual like color and pictures. Um, I’m also a terrible painter. Um, payroll, terrible drawer. so when I was very young, I, I was, when I was seven, I was drawing like a 13 year old when I was 13, I was drawing like a 13 year old and I still draw like a 13 year old right now. So that kind of sums it up. and I, I studied for example, art school.

And in our school, you have to also do, you know, besides photography, you have to do painting and architecture and graphic design.

And we had to make a self portrait of ourselves and we had a week for it. I’m and Anton, this big man with a very deep voice, he just walked past everybody with his hands behind his back. And he nodded and said something to like support. You’re like, Oh, that’s nice. And when he came to me, just looked at what I made of myself, myself portraits.

I mean, for a moment of silence, he said, Michael is very good. You’re going to be a photographer. And he walked away.

Brett Stanley: [00:13:04] that’s wonderful.

Michael: [00:13:06] So, yeah, that, that’s why I’m into photography. Basically. I can’t do anything else.

Brett Stanley: [00:13:10] No. Right. The, the honesty of Anton pushed you in the direction. Yeah.

Michael: [00:13:15] I was already there. So thanks. I done. I know.

Brett Stanley: [00:13:17] That’s awesome. And so, was underwater something that you were, were looking to do first, or did you want to do

Michael: [00:13:23] no, not at all. No, no, no. I lost that connection completely. So I, I was living in Holland, so my father died we’d we grew up on a ship and we had to go back to Holland. So by, by a Mediterranean life and when I was 13, me and my mom and the boat moved to Holland to support my father. Of course he was there getting treatment.

For for cancer at the time. and when he died, we just stayed in Holland because obviously a 13 year old kid and my mom were designed to sell this big boat along, ship boat is maybe not quite the right word. And, then I studied in Holland and kind of was like, I think there’s a term for it. Like a third, third.

Country kid, like you’re never quite from the country where you are. So I didn’t feel Dutch. I didn’t feel Spanish. It didn’t feel Turkish, but a little bit of everything because I’ve been to school in Turkey and been to school in Portugal. And I spoke Spanish a lot. and Turkish as well. And after graduating or actually failing graduating high school, I started working in it and I completely lost all my connection to photography in the sea for a bit, besides the digital camera that I had.

and at a very late age, like I was, this was in 2013. I decided that sits there after graduating from high school from art school, sorry, which I did in 2009. I, I didn’t ever think to combine photography in the underwater. I had an underwater housing. Like I S DecoPac the Silicon bags where I put my five DM.

and, they’ve made some horribly blurry and fuzzy pictures and Hollands obviously. And I think in 2007, I’ve made my first serious on the waterfalls or five D in the Silicon housing in Greece. And some people like, if I would edit it now, I could probably get away with posting it. And people would not be.

Terribly disappointed, but it’s, it’s by no means a good picture, just to dude floating in the water, you know, and that was it. And that’s, I kind of left it there and I was like, yeah, this is cool, but I don’t live anywhere with nice water. And after trying. Making underwater photos in Holland with a film camera and Nicodemus underwater camera, a little digital elliptical analog ones.

It was so terrible that, you know, I just, it was a nice experiment, but I gave up on it. and then we’re coming to the point, I guess is, when was that? 2013 31 December. I took an airplane to Gran Canaria and I was like, that’s it I’m done with my life in Holland. I don’t want. Office jobs. I don’t want to be in the cold.

I miss mountains. I miss the Mediterranean, I miss Mediterranean mindset and women and everything around it. And I left, to drunken areas. Spain.

Brett Stanley: [00:15:56] Wow. And to the Canary islands.

Michael: [00:15:59] Yep. They’re less us, which was really amazing. And I met amazing friends there. I still have really nice people there. got married. This is all secret stuff. So, fell in love with a, with a Spanish Cuban girl and her family was living in Florida. and to get into Florida, obviously, as you might know, it’s not easy for us.

You have to be either married or have a lot of money. And, I didn’t have the ladder. So we had to pay for marriage. We had to pay for marriage to get me there. but in, in drunken era made the first pictures in the seat. So we with a girl with a friend of mine. Now she’s a ship captain, especially ship captain.

And, uh, she just struck me as so elegant. And this was a picture made on my mobile phone. I get a C S three or S two, actually, I think. And it just was so beautiful. Like the, the. My love for women, which I have a lot. I love women. They’re beautiful creatures. and my love for photography and my love for the water.

Kind of all merged in one little mobile phone picture, as, as like fuzzy and hazy and imperfect as it was. And I kind of fell in love with the concept of it with like me capturing, divine femininity in the water, using my camera.

Brett Stanley: [00:17:05] Yeah. That’s such an interesting way into it. Cause I don’t, I haven’t heard of anyone or especially through this kind of podcast series of, of them falling in love with underwater photography through their phone. That’s such an interesting way of doing it.

Michael: [00:17:17] I didn’t have anything else we access to extract. That’s not entirely true because I bought, like, I don’t even know what it was, but it’s one of those. C C life or CNC. I don’t know. One of these real underwater, compact cameras that are made for underwater, but are so unsuitable to anything but micro photography.

And I had one of those first and it was so bad. I just, I got the phone instead, like a housing, which served me better.

Brett Stanley: [00:17:39] Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Michael: [00:17:41] So, I loved the results of may I moved from that to, what did I go to? I think that’s right.

I really fell in love with my girlfriend’s camera as well. Like she had an 85,100 or 5,085,000, and I gave her a little white, a 5,000 and that I bought a housing for them and I made a few tests, pictures, and then we broke up well divorced. but I was like, I need a Sony camera with a housing. That’s what I’m going to do.

So that’s what I did. And it is, of course it’s better than the phone and it’s it’s it came with me to Spain, to mainland Spain, to a FENO where I. started making the first pictures in caves because it’s full of caves and I was really deeply attracted to them. And my friends were adventurous and that’s kind of early 2015, when everything started to really roll.

Brett Stanley: [00:18:23] And so your kind of freediving cause you know, in, in the photos that I’ve seen of your work, you know, it, it is, as you say, very adventurous it’s into the caves. It’s all very, you know, the landscape is really as much a feature as the model is, was that free diving side of things just concurrently happening with the photography or did one was one more important to you at the time?

Michael: [00:18:45] I think it’s like the perfect threesome. If I can say that way. Like it’s 33, 33 33. So for me at the time, maybe it’s a bit different now, but at the time, so late 2014, early 2015, it was, I love the border, the exploration, the caves, and, I love photography underwater and I loved, you know, women or women.

That sounds like I’m a Playboy, but I loved. The gracefulness of women. And most of these women were my friends or my girlfriend, and there was not, you know, being a Playboy. It wasn’t a very big part or isn’t a very big part of my life. Although some people probably think it is. but I, you know, I, I, I used to be much more into.

Flirting and seeing women as like sexual objects and because of the camera, they became central and divinity. And I could turn my admiration for them into something that was arch more than just lust. And that has been one of the main reasons I enjoy so much what I do because the click is there in my brain.

I know when someone is at their most beautiful. I know exactly when a woman or I think I know when a woman is executive most elegant. And our most feminine and, and that’s when I pressed the bottom. and that is only possible because I kind of like fall in love with her femininity while I’m shooting.

Brett Stanley: [00:19:56] Yeah. So you’re falling in love through the lens, the

Michael: [00:19:59] Yeah, absolutely. If I’m not falling in love with them along the water as a photographer, but it’s almost the same feeling then it’s not going to be a very spectacular series.

Brett Stanley: [00:20:08] Yeah. And that’s a really interesting way of looking at it too, is that if you know, you’re looking at the response that the view is going to have, and if you don’t have that response straight away, then how you can expect them to have that

response.

Michael: [00:20:19] think about it that way, but it’s probably one of the reasons my photography did so well. Yeah. Probably

Brett Stanley: [00:20:23] Yeah. And it’s something that I’ve, I’ve heard a couple of other people speak about as well. Is that, who are you taking the photo for? You know, are you taking it for yourself because you are, impressed by what you can create skill-wise or are you taking it for the, for other people to be able to see what you’ve seen?

Michael: [00:20:41] I’m squinting my eyes now thinking about it as a, that’s a really nice question as well. because I studied art photography. I do think that I ha I felt or feel it. I mean, things have been going really well in the underwater world, as you’ve, might’ve seen yourself in there’s lots of talent out there and lots of things that are happening, which I find very interesting.

apart from a photographer, I also love being an analyst of the underwater photography. Seen in community. So I know exactly who is making, or I try to know what, who is making what and what direction it’s going, and if photographers are improving or getting less. And I find it super interesting because I’m a bit of an anthropologist as well, and a sociologist.

So these were side courses I took in high school or articles. Sorry, I keep saying high school. so I love observing and, and, and finding my own place in that. But at the same time, of course, I’m also. I’ve been educated to make work that doesn’t exist or to perfect work that exists. And that is like something I’m trying to do.

Like I’m always trying to make something that. Either was to my standards. Like there was room for improvement or something that didn’t exist yet. And I, I want to make something new and those are big motivators to do it. So I, yeah, there is, there is it doesn’t quite answer your question, but I think that, you know, it’s a big drive for me to create new things.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:00] And, and because you’ve had that formal education of, of an art, artistic education, how does that do the lecturers and the teachers and all the people that kind of critique your work while you were learning? Did they in the back of your head while you’re creating as well? You’re trying to kind of please those people mentally as well, while you’re,

Michael: [00:22:20] no, no, no. They, they, the, our school is a very much, they, they burn you down and build you up kind of things. There’s like military level of stress the first year, especially. and it’s the Royal Academy of arts and the Hague, which has a kind of reputation as well. And they, they really hammer you for the first year.

They just completely. Break you down. And then when, what you think you were as a photographer, that was, it’s no longer there. Like, I want it to be a net, a national geographic photographer. That’s how I got in. And I have no idea what the portfolio that I showed them that they let me in, but I’m very grateful for it.

and, did they guide you more like after the first year it’s more guidance, they just give you a lot of knowledge and many people think that art is like, Artsy-fartsy if you know what I mean, it’s like this feeling, but artists is science and many people don’t realize that, you know, there’s visual psychology that we have to do for three years.

In a row, just to be able to exp you can explain every color, every shape, every detail, everything has an effect on the viewer. And this is not just art. If you want to do commercial photography or make like an ad for Apple, everything Indra is designed and people don’t realize that they’re watching something that influences what they think of it.

So it’s not their opinion that they have, like Apple knows the opinion you’re going to have about their product because they designed it to have this and this affecting you, by the way they presented or the way they designed it. And to me, photography is a bit the same. Like I’m looking for a certain thing.

I want to communicate to my viewer. and that’s not necessarily the optimal forum for Instagram, I must say. So Instagram has its own. Set of things that work well, like you, things that go viral are usually not very compatible with things that are very artistic, like too artistic, but they can, you can find it in like a middle kind of area where it’s artistic enough for me and viral enough to do well on social media.

And that’s what I’m kind of always trying to battle with.

Brett Stanley: [00:24:14] so that’s an interesting kind of point. And let’s talk about that because, because Instagram is such a part of our lives and as photographers and cinematographers, you know, a lot of us are using Instagram, basically as a business card these days, you know, I meet people at conferences and all that sort of stuff for out in the street.

And, the first thing they asked me is, Oh, what’s your Instagram. And so we’re using these kind of these tools and these techniques, but I don’t think, and I’m guilty of this myself. I don’t even know really how to use it. So for you to say that there is, there is kind of a technique and a language to be able to get things, to, to get a lot of engagement on Instagram, then that is something that, you know, that’s kind of something that I would love to know more about

Michael: [00:24:54] I don’t think you want that bread, because the reason that you are good at what you do is because you have your own fingerprint, um, and your work stands, you know, it stands out from the average underwater work, but, your work or, or my work for the met are not necessarily are images that are going to be very well well received on Instagram.

Um, in general, like my favorite images usually do the worst. So they get the least features and the least. attention, like most of the things that are really loved that are like, Oh, this is going to be such a good thing. Like people don’t really like, or comment enough on it for Instagram to consider it to go viral

Brett Stanley: [00:25:30] what are the things that are, what are the reasons, I guess, for the things that you don’t think are that the best that they are going viral,

Michael: [00:25:38] Well things, but Instagram is, is not art. Instagram is. An amazing platform that has given me relationships, friends, jobs, and an audience, which I think is the most important thing for me, because I, I had, like, I was part of this old, very posh art school, our school world. But it gave me no satisfaction because in the end you’re producing work for like 50 people. Or maybe a hundred and a lucky day, and the other hundred are looking at your stuff that you make full of metaphorical layers and complex subjects and like, Oh art. Okay. And they nod and they, they go on, and it gave me no satisfaction and Instagram, although it is imperfect for me, I have, you know, 41,000 people that potentially, if Instagram allows me to come see my work, if I get the reach and that is like a very big satisfaction for me to be able to share.

The underwater world and share my view on femininity, especially, and share it with people.

Brett Stanley: [00:26:33] Yeah, absolutely.

Michael: [00:26:34] But that doesn’t mean it’s, it’s gone. It’s, you know, w viral is like whales that make sounds and, and, and maybe like more button, you know, the things that draw the attention when people stroll in their feet are not necessarily images that, provoke deeper, emotional response about pose or divinity, or, you know, it’s, it’s, they’re not one of the same usually, but they can be.

Brett Stanley: [00:26:58] no. Well that, I mean, that’s why I find it interesting. Cause it’s, and especially from an, like I say, it’s like an anthropological anthropological kind of psychological kind of side of things is looking at, you know, the audience you have on Instagram, what drives them? Cause it’s not, you know, they’re not driven by the same things.

We, as artists are driven by. you know, the Instagram kind of algorithm, the way it looks at things is not in an artistic way. It’s just looking at

Michael: [00:27:24] No, exactly.

Brett Stanley: [00:27:26] and, and talking to other photographers who do a range of stuff, the things that, that get them the most kind of engagement is usually a terrible, iPhone photo or a selfie.

That’s what gets the, all the

engagement, whereas the images that you’ve put a lot of work into, you know, kind of don’t react as well.

Michael: [00:27:43] so to, to, to add on to that, I can totally confirm it. Like my stories. They don’t get a lot of views for the size that I am, because I, I kind of abandoned stories for a while because I’m not a very social media person. People might think I am, but for me, it’s a job. I it’s a job to get the images shown to my followers.

That’s all it is for me. I want to get. My followers to have a nice experience when they tune into SU Robotica channel, you know, I want them to be, especially in Yelder and COVID, that’s actually the main reason. So COVID became really bad in, in February. I started to realize this is going to be a very long-term problem for a lot of people.

And I want to find a way besides my pictures, which is, you know, an instant to take people out of their house, where everybody is in lockdown and stressed and afraid, and to give them. Nature and sounds and feelings and, and movement and funny things to show. So that’s when I started to share some meme sometimes, and to make lots of video and photos of nature and fruits and.

Scenery and little animals. And, I got such positive responses from that, that I kind of kept doing stories, because people still needed or they needed again, I should say. So Europe is going look down again. And, I get messages daily from people that say, Oh, thank you for. Doing stories because it’s keeping me sane and I that’s, that’s my main motivation now.

and I really enjoy it. It keeps me saying, you know, when I was stuck in Holland for the entire summer, basically, I’m never in Holland, by the way, I, by making video by buying a good phone, like a galaxy S 10, I bought it. I didn’t get it sponsored. I was able to make beautiful little mini documentaries about my particular area in Holland and that went not viral, but my stories got really boosted.

So thousands of people were watching them rather than 700, which I had before. and to, to come back to the point where you said, you know, the most unexpected things get the most views. A few days ago, I posted a picture of me with the biggest pimple I’ve ever had on my cheek. And it had like, Four times as much views as the average thing I share on my stories.

So I was like, Oh, well, that’s unexpected. and, but I knew that I knew it was going to now I know that pictures of me apparently get a lot of views and kind of. Make people stop and see, Oh, that’s what a guy, I guess. And then what I do is after a picture of me or a picture of something that I know will do really well, I will put things that are important so that Instagram will show the next four or five stories and show them to a lot of people.

so for example, I posted a about Taiwan’s loss of democracy a few days ago late, which meant a lot to me, but hasn’t been in the news. So I shared it in my stories like, Hey guys, we’ve lost the democracy. and a candle that flickered out, you know, visual effect. And that got almost the same views as, as, as my zit face, because yeah, they were like in the same grade, in the same day.

So that is the weird thing about Instagram. Like Instagram is that unexpected things get a lot of like visibility and it’s always the good things. The things that you want to communicate, that kind of Instagram is like, mm, Nope.

Brett Stanley: [00:30:46] I think that’s the thing that’s kind of frustrating is you need to kind of keep in your mind that that Instagram itself is almost a living entity that that makes its own decisions and you have to live within those

Michael: [00:30:58] Yeah, I I’m both frustrated and amused by it frustrated when it’s about my own work and my own thing. I want to tell and communicate and amused and interested because I am, you know, anthropologically looking at Instagram as this. Thing that is out of control and, and steering people’s opinions and creating false narratives and, and awesome things left and right.

And it’s quite interesting how that’s going and it it’s, it’s an interesting thing for us photographers to deal with.

Brett Stanley: [00:31:26] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And it’s something that we’re going to have to deal with for a while. It’s, you know,

Michael: [00:31:31] It’s not going to go away.

Brett Stanley: [00:31:33] exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So, so let’s kind of get away from the virtual realm and let’s get back into the, to the real world.

what are you shooting with? Like, let’s talk about some gear. What, what are you actually using to create these amazing photos?

Michael: [00:31:47] well, I don’t really like to speak about gear generally. because I think it makes people think that, Oh, that combination of. Camera and lens or housing or whatever creates that kind of pictures. I will give you an answer to those questions by the way. and that’s why very recently I’ve started to use my galaxy as 10 in an underwater housing, dive focused, the name it’s pretty awesome.

And it’s the only housing it has like a, I got it sponsored by the way, but I specifically requested it because I said, I want to test that product. It looks like something that is going to be better than using buttons. It doesn’t have buttons. It has like a soft membrane, a double membrane, and you can take it down to a hundred meters and it’s, it’s very solidly built.

and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. And I’ve actually thought, okay, so I have this F 1.5 lens in my, you know, super bright in my phone. And I, in theory, I can go to a lot of places with it. And, I did, and I actually have posted some pictures on my feed made with my phone in a cave, and nobody noticed. So I noticed of course, because I can see there’s a bit more noise or the, the dynamic range of blah, blah, blah, but nobody noticed. So I got the same amount of likes and it’s, I can put more and people will never know. So I think that answers your question. That equipment doesn’t matter until you go print.

Of course, then it matters.

Brett Stanley: [00:33:06] Yeah, absolutely. And, and even for, like, from my point of view, I do a little bit of cinematography work at the moment.

and I would say a good 50% of the work that I’ve gotten, you know, doing music, videos and features and stuff has come from a video. I shot in The Bahamas three years ago on an iPhone five.

Michael: [00:33:24] Oh, well that is hardcore. That is old. That is, that is not the quality that I have in my stamps and my respect to my head off to you, as they say,

Brett Stanley: [00:33:31] exactly. I mean, it looks terrible and I’m embarrassed by the quality of it, but the content of it is good,

Michael: [00:33:37] okay.

I am. I am very Puritan. I want, you know, but honestly, modern date phones are better at some things than cameras and underwater is a tricky environment. Phones are not optimized for it. Like my galaxy doesn’t have an underwater white balance, which it may, would make it 10 times better for what I’m doing.

But, Sony camera, for example, has it just allows you to shoot JPEGs in shallow water. It look, you know, pretty decent already. but, but out of the border phones are amazing tools and within now, and, well, the reason I started shooting on the S 10 is because I expected next year, like not the S 21, which has the same camera set up upstairs 20, but the one after that I can full-time shoot on my phone.

That’s that’s my, that’s my prediction. So end of 2021, I can leave my Sony a seven, which is what I have now at home and start shooting with a phone in 90% of the locations. Maybe not the deepest, darkest cave, of course, which is where I operate sometimes where you need, you know, high ISO, but, open water or shallow case, which is the majority of what they actually do.

you can get away with a good phone and, and a good housing and that’s it.

Brett Stanley: [00:34:47] that’s incredible. and you’re using constant lighting or flashlights,

Michael: [00:34:52] use lighting at all. Yeah. Usually, if I used light, you can always see it. So the thing that the girl is holding or the light that is obviously shining from somewhere very brightly, that is, lights from the, are a prop. They’re never the thing that makes the light look good.

Brett Stanley: [00:35:07] right. So, so in

Michael: [00:35:08] Although that’s changing a little bit now.

So my last picture like today, or today’s very relative for whoever’s listening to this, but today is what day is it today? Help me out here. Yeah, I mean date. Thank you. so that day I posted a picture where the light, is very powerful. It’s like a 30,000 lumen light. and I used them in cave where I could never photograph otherwise.

It would be impossible, not even with my  and bright lenses and bloody blur. So their delight is actually making all the elimination except for a little bit of like, Blue haze and some reflections. but normally I would use natural light and I would only use a torch or a big light, like a big blue dye flights.

Those are the lines that I work with. two to. Highlight a certain part of the cave or to create like a beam or something, but I don’t really use light the way you probably do where you bounce or where you should directly, or it’s just what I find. I really like to, to find beautiful places where the light is kind of there for the picking.

Brett Stanley: [00:36:04] And then you’re using the flashlights as an accent or as a prop or

Michael: [00:36:08] Yes. And also functionally because caves, I don’t think I can stress this enough, but caves are unpredictably dangerous at times and flashlights make sure that you can see, is there debris floating in there? Are there jellyfish? Is there like giants? Ill, there is a cave where there’s a giant, is there a giant eel on the spot where it sometimes is, or not, which might or might not eat my foot?

this wasn’t, this was a two and a half meter IL, by the way, it’s a very rare thing, but yeah, it’s nice to have it, to see where you’re going in caves and the lights are a big necessity for it.

Brett Stanley: [00:36:37] And so when you’re doing these games and you’re, you know, you’re still free diving, I assume.

Michael: [00:36:41] Yes.

Brett Stanley: [00:36:42] in terms of, of team, like, it’s you and then you have a model, is it just the two of you or are you in there? You’ve got other people with you. How does that

Michael: [00:36:49] unfortunately, yes. So, I would like to have a safety diver because it’s always nice to have a third person that can watch both me and the model and is only watching, not diving or photographing at the same time. But the reality is that, and this is a very unfortunate reality is that there is no space for a third person usually.

Yeah, they’re very, they’re, they’re quite small. They look big, but most of the caves I go to are really small. And even if it’s big, I want to show how big it is. So that means that this person needs to be somewhere, which is sometimes not very convenient because I move around a lot. Like it’s very dynamic.

What I do, I don’t say, Oh, go there and, and stay there. I just swim. And I will repeat some things, but it’s the nicest things happen when you’re just having fun. And secondly, financially, I, I wouldn’t like it if I would have two girlfriends or something. Yeah. I can ask them to the caves, but, like half of the pictures on my feet or, girlfriends are very close friends.

So these are like people that I swim with daily and that I know very well. And we just go out and have fun and adventure and seaside, picnics, and explore. And the pictures are kind of like a side effect of doing all these nice things together. And that’s how most of my friendships are. but there’s not always someone there with us.

So I’ve learned a safety protocol that basically puts a lot of responsibility on me. and to wherever is by far, the most experienced diver has more responsibility in the cave. That’s how it works for me or in the water in general. So if I’m swimming with, let’s say magwell Lozano, the number one free diving champion of Spain, then I will push myself a bit further.

So I will not stay down one minute, but maybe I’ll stay down one and a half minutes, because I know that he can, you know, unscrew whatever situation I managed to create. but when I’m with a model and the models are generally people that I trained myself, not always, but usually yes. then I know that I should be extremely responsible and then I am both safety and photographer at, in one.

and that means things like asynchronous dive. So I will only dive down after the model went down so that she’s running out of breath when I still have plenty left, for example. And there will be very short dive. So not longer than 15 or 20 seconds because I can’t risk her or me too. After we make a mistake to make a mistake again.

Brett Stanley: [00:39:04] again. Exactly.

Michael: [00:39:05] But this is not ideal and this is not what I recommend. I mean, ideally you should be with three people if there’s a photographer in the model, but it’s very impractical for me.

Brett Stanley: [00:39:14] Yes. And so how would you describe what you’re doing? Is this, I mean, this is not commercial work. Otherwise you would have people to support you, or would you, are you doing commercial work

Michael: [00:39:24] I do. Yeah, I do live, there was actually quite a lot of pictures on my feed or commercial work where I either collapse with brands. So for example, I call it, I work with big blue dive lights, and this is a very important color for me. So it’s not even a color, it’s an agreement. So this is expensive equipment and I produce content for them, but I.

Approach them, because I know that their product is the best. So I have been approached by many brands in over the past four years and 95% of the times, I say no, because their products are not something I heard or look for or stand behind, or like, you know, it’s not the way I don’t like how it looks or I don’t like the quality of them or I don’t like the functionality of them.

so the.

Brett Stanley: [00:40:03] them yourself, so you’re not willing

Michael: [00:40:04] No, no, no, no. So I’m very, as you might or might not know, but I’m very, Reluctant to commercially exploit my Instagram. So I almost never mentioned brands I work for, but it is important that I started doing it because these people literally, over the past years, I’ve allowed my photography to take place at all.

So I buy camera and housing, of course, and, and lenses, and I lose them and I buy them again. So they drowned, But, but like fins, like in multi work with bowshot fins a lot and it’s done best with themselves as sponsored me, but they are doing that now. but I work with, what’s their name in, let me find the correct name.

It’s the dive warehouse and are these a friend of mine and he never expects anything back from me. So he gives me the equipment. He’s like, just based on just make nice pictures. So a lot of the things you see, my feet are actually his. Commercial photography. and it might not sound like very much, but to me to be able to have fins and masks in a broad range of colors and sizes for my models is a godsend.

because I want specific things on my models, like certain colors or certain looks or certain fit and that’s, it’s, semi-commercial so collaborations. And I get commercial jobs where I, you know, I work with a brand, and they pay me for it. But then my photography will obviously be much more fitting into what they want to show.

Well, it might not always be suitable for my feet.

Brett Stanley: [00:41:28] right. Cause you’ve got a certain aesthetic and a certain kind of a conceptual idea of your

Michael: [00:41:33] yes, yes. Correct.

 

No, I try to, and I try to make this niche where my style of images fits, what brands are looking for. And I do get, for example, bikini and wetsuit, work right now. And I have had bikini work for the past three years. it’s a mix of. Outside fashion and like fashion art and underwater photography.

And they were basically the main way how I funded my underwater photography, because it’s actually, not, the main way, how I made money,

Brett Stanley: [00:42:02] right. So that was supporting you to be able to go and create the art.

Michael: [00:42:05] not just support, it allowed me to do it. It was the main source of income. And because, because where I can afford to live, where I like to live is not necessarily the best place to get clients.

Brett Stanley: [00:42:16] right?

Michael: [00:42:17] I’m very picky with whom I accept as a customer or as a client. So if someone is not a very good free diver, or if someone wants a certain type of pictures, like people have weird requests, I’m like, I’m sorry, but you might be better off finding someone else. So I don’t take a lot of commercial jobs.

it’s it really needs to fit with what I want to do. commercial jobs, I mean clients. but generally I lived in places that were very good for living, but not great for. access to tourists. So like Katakana in Southern Spain, that that’s where my heart lies. That’s the most beautiful place on in the world.

For me, both underwater, it has caves and freshwater caves. And, it’s, it’s, it’s amazing the landscape as well. There’s beaches and good life and a central market with fresh fish. And I like tuna for $8 per kilo. That’s the life. And my friends are there, like my closest friends, but there’s no clients like the Spanish people.

They are not very interested in. Paying for pictures, they would rather either not pay or have them for free or have no pictures. So I had to move away there, but, but it is a very nice place in the end for photos.

Brett Stanley: [00:43:19] And so in terms of when you’re talking clients, are you talking about a brand or are you talking about somebody

Michael: [00:43:23] No individuals, customers. Yeah.

Brett Stanley: [00:43:25] Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: [00:43:26] Yeah, I do. I do get to the size now and also I need to be more brazen with it. I need to be much more commercial, which I am not. I’m very much into. I just want to make the nicest possible art that. Anybody underwater could possibly make.

I don’t always succeed, but I try. And, it kind of consistency like consistency. I want to make only good art on a very high frequency. Like everybody can make a good picture if they try hard enough, but I try to really like make a good picture every time I post, which is kind of my challenge to myself and my obligation.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is a very good way to make money. No, you can make a lot more money with different types of photography, like underwater wedding photography, or moving to a tropical destination like Mexico, or like doing shoots with a rich Russians that visit Cyprus, just one leg.

We won’t so pictures. So these people, they can give you money, but they don’t, you know, they’re not, they’re not very good at free diving, so it’s very limiting what you can do with them.

Brett Stanley: [00:44:23] that’s the thing. I mean, I look at your feed and I look at the stuff that’s in there and you know, that. The talent of the people that are in the photos, whether it’s a natural talent or whether it’s someone that you’ve trained them to do. That’s what kind of makes a lot of the photograph. Is there comfort under the water?

Michael: [00:44:39] Absolutely. The, the, the model is very important for me. So I, it’s also a bit how I make them look, but if it’s not there, I can’t capture it. So I need to make them comfortable in the border, make them comfortable with themselves, which is a very part of what I do, but it probably people don’t realize, but I, I, I love to make women.

Self-assured about their body and about their skills as a model, both underwater and out of the border. And that’s like my biggest, it’s almost a hobby. Like I just want to pick up a woman on the street that I think is beautiful. And she’s like, Oh no, I don’t like pictures. And then a week later, she’s she looks like a top model, both in and out of the water.

And that’s kind of like, it gives me a cake. Like I can make people see their own beauty and this gives them a lot of self-confidence and and that’s, that’s a beautiful gift to give to people together with. Free diving itself, which I think is, you know, it goes hand in hand modeling and free diving women feel very attracted to it and it empowers them both the way they look and the way they feel because free diving is it’s free, you know, it’s, you don’t pay for it.

And it’s free in the sense that it’s liberating. It takes your daily stresses away. And in the water there in the water, when you’re freed up, there is nothing except the moment in the water.

I mean, free diving, especially without a wetsuit, it there’s so many nerve impulses going on in your skin, especially with summit colder water that your brain just. Like resets and it’s very hard for people that are not experienced freedivers to think about the debt.

They have the relationship that broke up or a Corona virus in the water. It all doesn’t exist once you swim, especially as I said, without a wetsuit, because your skin is this giant conductive tissue that is being bombarded with information from the sea. And that’s kind of what I love seeing happening with new divers, and the confidence they get from.

Diving in a cave or reaching 10 meters, you know, which they thought they were never capable of.

Brett Stanley: [00:46:31] I think that’s, that’s an interesting thing. And it’s something that I’m not sure if it’s every underwater photographer, but certainly for me, the, the taking someone who’s not comfortable under the water and then teaching them how to be comfortable under the water and seeing that transition.

It’s incredible. And that’s the rush that I get. It’s taking someone and giving them the gift of seeing themselves relaxed and comfortable under the water. That’s the rush that I get from it.

Michael: [00:46:56] And it’s not age dependent. I mean, people sometimes ask me, like, why do you only have skinny models? And I’m like, well, I’m surrounded by people that have a similar lifestyle as I have. So. These are people that love hiking, many of the places I go, you can’t get there with a car. You need to like put a backpack on with your fin, strapped on it, food and go hike.

and, or to swim 20 minutes to get to that place, or a kayak an hour to get to that certain cave rec they’re not easy access places. And, and that kind of is a self filtering system. and I think also modeling probably when people see my pictures, they think that everybody’s a model. Which is the opposite is true.

I think there might be 5% of them might be models and the rest are just normal people that are like, I don’t know, offers jobs, a nurse. they’re one of my very good friends. She’s a teacher, you know, teaches children and these are not diverse. They are very down to earth, wonderful, sweet human beings.

And, they feel like sirens or goddesses in the water because that’s kind of the. Energy that we develop

Brett Stanley: [00:47:59] Yeah. And that’s the thing is, is there is a, uh, a preconception that if someone looks good in a photograph that they must be a model

it’s just not true, 90% of the people that I work with have never done it before. You know, it’s just the

skill of the photographer to get them to feel comfortable enough to be able to do get that shot.

Michael: [00:48:17] it it, yes. And at the same time, it also, like last week I worked with, a girl from she’s Chinese, but she lives in New York, but she was born in China, a very petite girl, very S very friendly, but she said, Look, I can only hold my breath for 30 seconds and I can swim, but I can’t dive.

And she was actually really afraid of the sea. So she wouldn’t go out. So I’m stuck here. Like I have a window of five by five meters next to the stairs that go into the border. And the border is two meters deep hazy because the Clearwater is further out. And I was, I was like, Oh my God, how am I going to do this?

But I really liked her as a person, which is a very big part of why I enjoy working with certain people. Like if I enjoy. The person then I will make nicer pictures of them generally. And we made an amazing shoot where she’s on her floating. Or she just took my weight belt and went to the bottom, like two meters deep and just did a cute little pose for me and these pictures I’m going to post on.

And they look like my typical pictures, but this woman was afraid of the water, but she trusted me. So even if, if the person trusts you. and is a little bit performance driven. I think we all know what we’re talking about. Like, I want to get the picture, those, those people tend to have the best results, you know?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brett Stanley: [00:49:30] Well, that’s the thing. And I think that the beauty of photography in general is just that you don’t know what happened before or after this shot. You don’t know what the story is. You have to make it up. And if you can get one beautiful shot, Out of something that is, you know, maybe something that’s full of fear or something that’s, you know, uncomfortable.

But for this one second, they felt relaxed and calm. Then you’ve done your

Michael: [00:49:53] They we’ll come back for it.

That’s I mean, maybe with you, that’s not quite as easy to extrapolate because of course you, you work in a pool usually, so you can’t tell them all dive down to 10 meters now, you know, it’s a little bit more limited. And the chloride, for example, I, I, I would be your worst model.

I, I don’t feel comfortable in pools. but. But, the open sea and caves, especially, they’re really relaxed me. And, uh, this, this girl had talked to you about the Chinese girl. She, she actually wants to pick up freediving now. So she just, after one shoot with me, she’s like, I’m going to do lessons and I want to learn to be a mermaid.

I want to go down and I want to explore well before the shoot, she was afraid. And then I just blow with pride for a few days. Like, yep. That’s what I do it for.

Brett Stanley: [00:50:35] Well, my kind of belief is that the ability to hold your breath under the water is a superpower.

is,

it is something that not everyone gets to do, you know? And then if you can,

Michael: [00:50:46] it’s a little bit more than that. I think it is the power to know that you’re, that you don’t need to breathe on the water to be comfortable.

Cause thinking about holding your breath is going to make you stressed. Well, they just go and they’re so amazed. I mean, I don’t know how you do it, which is maybe something we need to interview you about, but I have fishes and caves and things that are distracting them, which makes them forget. They were afraid of border.

Brett Stanley: [00:51:10] And that, that is the thing is distracting them with

Michael: [00:51:12] But you don’t have that. So my question to you is rollover. So how do you make someone forget about the water?

Brett Stanley: [00:51:18] I get them to think about everything else. So I basically tell them to think about the pose. So, I mean, I’m working in a different way than you, mostly because you’re probably. Having someone swim, whereas I’ve got someone static in the water and what I’m doing with them is I’m getting them to go through a checklist of are my toes pointed, are my hands relaxed?

Is my face relaxed? What is my hair doing? You know, the more you can give them a list of things that don’t involve. Am I still holding my breath?

It’s enough to distract them.

Michael: [00:51:48] I, I do tell people of course, that they need to, I will show them, which is to their grades, hilarity. Like I will be doing feminine poses as a hairy dude in the water. I’m like, yo, what you’re doing, that’s not, that’s not what, that’s not good enough girl. And she’s like, what do you mean? Like, I’ll show you and they have to laugh.

Of course, when this guy is suddenly doing this super mermaidy stuff. So I do show them things, but I do tend to like find a mix between organic and pose. Where would you might do is of course more instructed and more guided, I guess.

Brett Stanley: [00:52:19] Yeah. A little bit. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for me, I’m making them do poses that are not really underwater sort of poses, I guess, you know, that they had more dance kind of moves,

Michael: [00:52:31] I’m going to ask you a question. You can’t say that. I mean, this is the best moment to do it. So, have you done pregnancy shoots?

Yes. Right, because I’ve seen a picture and I think it is yours. Where of course it’s a beautiful picture, but she’s wearing some kind of like Cape dress it’s on the neck and shoulders, but not on the whole body. Is that

Brett Stanley: [00:52:50] sort of goes around the chest. Yeah. Why? I assume so

Michael: [00:52:53] Can I still do that? Can I, can I steal that idea from you?

Brett Stanley: [00:52:56] Yeah. I mean, it’s quite a, very popular maternity dress.

Michael: [00:53:00] Okay. I’m not an expert at all. So I saw, and I was like, Hmm, that looks something that I need to, because I have someone who wants to do that. And she said, and I would love to work with someone who is pregnant. I don’t have a lot of that. I’ve done it in a long, like a long time ago. So I was like, this is a good moment to ask if they can, if they can use that idea.

Brett Stanley: [00:53:17] Yeah. And it’s definitely not my idea. It is basically a maternity photo shoot dress. Um, usually they use them in the studios, like on dry land and it’s a dress that basically

shows off the bat.

Michael: [00:53:28] only if you do it in the water, that’s when you invented it, I think.

Brett Stanley: [00:53:32] Yeah. And even then, I’m pretty sure it was done way before I did it. Sorry.

Michael: [00:53:36] Okay. Don’t feel any guilt.

Brett Stanley: [00:53:37] no, so you’ve got my permission, but you’ll have

to ask everybody else as well. Yeah.

Michael: [00:53:42] Yeah, that’s an interesting thing. Isn’t it? How do you, how do you deal with that? Like, do you Like, how do you, how do you deal with, if somebody would make something that is very similar to you in like, I guess it’s similar geographic area.

Do you have that?

Brett Stanley: [00:53:55] Uh, you mean, do I have someone doing shooting things that are similar to me who are also close to me in terms of

Michael: [00:54:02] yeah. Like w who might overlap in terms of clients? Because I guess, I don’t know if clients fly all over the U S to get to you,

Brett Stanley: [00:54:08] yeah. Yeah, they do. I mean, I have people who come honestly from all over the world, but, It is. Yeah. I mean, the thing with underwater, especially the stuff that I do, the sort of more pool oriented studio is what I call it. Underwater studio

work, is that it, there are some very pronounced types of things you can do.

And so a lot of underwater photographers who do underwater studio do the similar kind of things. And so for me, I’m trying to. Push the boundaries of that, which is why I build sets and, you know, make a Rose out of mirrors and all that sort of stuff

it is to try and set a new bar or, you know, like a, have something new that they haven’t seen before.

So,

so in terms of having to deal with someone doing something similar to me, again, it’s like, they’ve probably done it similar, but they haven’t done it, how I would have done it.

Michael: [00:54:58] Right. Yeah, I recognize that a bit.

Brett Stanley: [00:55:00] I bank on the idea that my style is something that someone’s going to want. Maybe over someone else’s style.

Michael: [00:55:06] Hmm. Confidence. I need to learn that. So, what is funny by the way, is that, trust me, if you go to the cave that is 15 minutes walking from your house, which was the case in multi, like I walked from my house to one pretty good cave. if you go there six times a week, it becomes a studio. It’s, it’s just a studio.

Brett Stanley: [00:55:25] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And then

that’s the thing with say, like the Florida Springs that is, is one of my studios because I

go

there a lot

Michael: [00:55:33] This is a big secret.

Brett Stanley: [00:55:34] no, it’s

amazing. I mean, have you been to the forest rings?

Michael: [00:55:37] Nah, It’s the number one spot after Mexico. I want to go because it’s, it’s so different visually. And it’s just, it’s the place where everybody has been. And that always for me is like, who I want to do something new there.

You know, I want to find out what I can make from it, which is what I kind of. Try to do in Mexico. And I got so much pleasure from it. And, and I did manage to either find like little nooks and crannies that nobody went and to show them in different ways.

And the Florida Springs have this magical attraction to me and ever ha and always had. and the thing that makes it difficult is basically the States it’s very expensive. So I can’t. I can’t afford to go there without, you know, like booking clients, but you’re not officially allowed to work in the States on a tourist visa.

So it’s, it’s complicated,

Brett Stanley: [00:56:20] Yeah, it does make it hard. Yeah.

to compare it to the snow days down in Mexico is very similar. It is, they are basically like, so no ties with the roof’s taken off. So they open S and OTs basically,

Michael: [00:56:32] have those as well, openers to notice lots, actually.

Brett Stanley: [00:56:35] Yeah, exactly. And they’re the thing in Florida because the Springs, there’s thousands of them in like a a hundred mile radius or something.

And which is the same as this, the notation, you know, there’s, there’s

like someone’s got one in their backyard. And so there’s so many different places you can go in so many different landscapes you can get. And so many different looks.

Michael: [00:56:53] I’m so

excited already.

Brett Stanley: [00:56:54] just incredible.

Michael: [00:56:55] So if anybody’s listening that lives in Florida and has a room for me somewhere after COVID, I’m afraid.

Brett Stanley: [00:57:00] Go. This is at the underwater podcast, hooking people up.

michael. Thanks so much for sharing all of this. It’s been awesome just to chat with you and just to get, get your kind of like take on everything. It’s it’s really interesting.

Michael: [00:57:12] has been totally my pleasure. Thank you.

 

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