Freedive Photographer Tony Myshlyaev

In episode #54 host Brett Stanley chats with freedive photographer Tony Myshlyaev, better known as Tones Of Blue.

They talk about his journey from learning to scuba dive in Vancouver, Canada, to his love affair with the warm tropical waters of Thailand. 

Tony shares some of his techniques for shooting people in open water, his favourite spots to dive, and how the pandemic gave him a massive creative push.

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About Tony Myshlyaev – Freedive Photographer

Perhaps better known as Tones of Blue, Tony brings seemingly simple elements: water, light, and people, together to create frames which consistently turn the eye.

He works as a freediving instructor and photographer in Thailand and you can explore more of his work via the links below.

Find him at and on Instagram

Podcast Transcript

Ep 54 – Tony Myshlyaev 
 [00:00:00] Brett Stanley: Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week I’m talking to free dive photographer, Tony Better known as tones of blue. We talk about his journey from learning to scuba dive in Vancouver, Canada, to his love affair with the warm tropical waters of Thailand. Tony shares some of his techniques for shooting people in open water, his favorite spots to dive and how the pandemic gave him a massive creative push. 
 All right. Let’s dive in. 
 Tony, welcome to the Underwater Podcast. 
 [00:01:00] Tony Myshlayaev: Thanks so much Brett. It’s nice to be here. 
 [00:01:03] Brett Stanley: Well, where is here? Cuz you travel quite a bit, right? So you’ve been bouncing around. Where are you at the moment? 
 [00:01:09] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, that’s a good question. Usually I’m based in Thailand, but for the first time in four years I’m visiting my family just outside of Vancouver in a small little town called Mission. 
 [00:01:20] Brett Stanley: Oh cool. Have you been there for a while? 
 [00:01:22] Tony Myshlayaev: Uh, So I got back a couple weeks ago, roughly, and I quickly down in Mexico to check out the SANEs and I’ve been back for about a week. 
 [00:01:32] Brett Stanley: Oh cool. Yeah. 
 so the, so have you been away? What? Like, cuz the pandemic, Is that why you haven’t sort of come back? Or do you just not tend to come back very often? 
 [00:01:42] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. So I think um, both of those answers are correct. , I I, I love Thailand. I’ve been living in Thailand for about seven years, going on eight now, and I want to spend the rest of my life there as far as, as far as I feel about it now. And I love Canada. Like I love having grown up here. However it’s definitely not the place for me. 
 There’s just not enough accessible ocean for the type of diving I like to do. And it’s very cold. I’m not a very good Canadian when it comes to the cold. 
 [00:02:13] Brett Stanley: Yeah, right. That’s the thing. So, So how did you even get into underwater then? You know, like it, I mean, it’s cold all year round in the water in, in Vancouver. 
 [00:02:22] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. You, you know, that’s a good question and I’ve wondered that myself. At first, I thought it was because I simply traveled to Thailand backpacking in my early twenties and went scuba diving and started to like it. But in, in short, that’s kind of how everything started. But my whole life, I’ve really enjoyed the water. 
 As a photographer on land, I always tended to photograph around the water, like at the beach, at the lakes, at the rivers. And I always loved swimming. I didn’t really know where I would ever take it, but I just always enjoyed water-based activities. yeah, living in Vancouver, I had access to the water, but never was able to immerse myself in it for long periods of time. 
 So I, I think I always had this draw to see tropical places. I never had the opportunity. Growing up to travel much, I was just always stuck in Vancouver and might have been a slight bit. Yeah, I was definitely a bit resentful for spending so much time in a cold place. But then I found as soon as I came to Thailand and just traveled Southeast Asia, I, I fell in love and it’s been really hard imagining myself living in Canada again. 
 [00:03:36] Brett Stanley: it’s funny with that, like it, cuz I grew up in Australia and Australia, where I lived was, you know, it was hot. It was kind of humid. You know, we had the coast. I, I surfed a lot when I grew up, but then when I just kind of randomly moved to New Zealand like New Zealand was like, I came, it felt like I was coming home. 
 Like it was just the different landscape, the different culture, the different everything. Totally. You know, like. Apart from my family being in Australia, I don’t think of Australia as my home anymore. Like New Zealand is my home 
 just because of the way I feel when I’m there. So I guess that’s what you feel like in Thailand. 
 [00:04:11] Tony Myshlayaev: Wow. Yeah, I mean, it, it’s obviously it’s hard to kind of label that feeling that it gives you, but it’s just in general, you don’t think of being elsewhere. Like you wake up and you live your day and it feels good and you look forward to every part of it, and. That’s, I mean, yeah, like finding myself back in Canada, I’m, I’m just like reflecting on my life back in Pettet and I, I’m already kind of missing it and wanting to be back there. 
 So, so I completely understand what you’re saying. It’s, it’s difficult to figure out why that is, but when you find it, it just speaks to you and it’s perfect. 
 [00:04:52] Brett Stanley: I think that’s the thing, and I kind of, I kind of wonder, wonder if people have this kind of longing for something, but don’t ever find it. You know, like I feel lucky that I found New Zealand, that is my kind of spiritual home and you’ve got Thailand. I wonder if there’s people out there who, you know, have this feeling of longing, but never know what it’s for. 
 [00:05:09] Tony Myshlayaev: Absolutely. I think, I think a lot of people do, to be honest with you, Brett I, you know, a lot of people are, are focused on what they are told the important things in life are and rarely ever reflect. How they feel. I mean, coming back home, I, I see how a lot of people have, you know evolved and, and grown into, into their lives here. 
 And some of them seem quite happy and fulfilled. And other people you can tell that they’ve had a longing, like, I don’t know how much of it they realize themselves, but clearly they are unfulfilled. 
 [00:05:45] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 It’s such an interesting thing if, if yeah. Of why that happens and, and, and just the randomness of how you find that thing that fulfills you with, with Thailand, is that where you started diving? Is that where you learned to dive? 
 [00:05:59] Tony Myshlayaev: totally. Um, It’s a , it’s a pretty generic story. Uh, A lot of people do this. They come through Koow, which is kind of known as like the cheapest place ever to learn to dive. And that’s what I did with my with my girlfriend at the time. We we came from Vancouver together and we learned to dive there and I ended. 
 the dive master course, like all the way through from beginner to like professional. And I didn’t have my camera with me. Like I didn’t, I didn’t have an underwater housing for it. I was a land photographer just traveling. 
 [00:06:34] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:06:35] Tony Myshlayaev: and then I ended up coming home to Canada after six months and just feeling so, like unfulfilled, like referencing what we just talked about. 
 And I just like had, I had no choice, like the draw was, like the pull to come back was so strong that I sold all of my studio gear. I had a hassle. Glad I had like a lot of like you know lights and pocket wizards and all that, and lenses I wouldn’t need. And I bought my first camera housing and, and made it back to ko. 
 [00:07:07] Brett Stanley: Right. So, so you were a fully fledged photographer before you got into the underwater stuff. 
 [00:07:13] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, I, I, I would say so our, I would, I, like, I, at that time, I like to think I was as far as I could have possibly pushed it at my level. I had gone through a photography program in Vancouver and I was shooting studio work, and I mainly liked shooting outside with flashes. But but I was, yeah, I was a studio photographer and, and technically trained for sure. 
 [00:07:40] Brett Stanley: And and then so when you sold all that gear, what did you end up buying to, to take back to Thailand. 
 [00:07:45] Tony Myshlayaev: Oh man, , that’s just embarrassing actually. I bought this like horrible housing and I, I don’t care if they know, like they make the worst ever it’s a brand called Equinox. , they were sold through backs scatter, and I love backs scatter. Like Oh no, it wasn’t backscatter. Sorry. It was B and h photo video. 
 You obviously know B and h, you live 
 [00:08:07] Brett Stanley: yeah. in New York, Yeah. 
 [00:08:09] Tony Myshlayaev: so they, they sold this like giant tube, so it’s not like it had a port and like a housing. It was just one giant tube and you stick like your camera in it. And , I had like a 24 to 70, so like just a recline wide angle lens and just stuck it in on 24 and, and just tried shooting with it for a few months and the results were actually okay. 
 But then I ended up buying a Sioux ball housing very shortly after. So that was a bit of a waste of money. 
 [00:08:39] Brett Stanley: Right. Yeah. Did you manage to be able to sell that Equinox one or not? 
 [00:08:44] Tony Myshlayaev: God. No, it broke, man. It broke like within months. 
 [00:08:47] Brett Stanley: Oh God. Okay. 
 [00:08:49] Tony Myshlayaev: Just like, I just didn’t even wanna deal with it like mentally. I just like put it aside. I don’t even know where it went actually, to be honest with you. I just, I didn’t want to look at it. I didn’t want to deal with it. Getting it shipped to me was a problem. 
 Like using it was a problem. It broke immediately. It was just good rids 
 [00:09:06] Brett Stanley: Right. Yeah. I just, I just brought it up now. I just Googled it and yeah, it is like a uh, like a torpedo tube or something. It’s, 
 [00:09:15] Tony Myshlayaev: bro. It’s so bad. There it 
 [00:09:20] Brett Stanley: very retro. 
 [00:09:22] Tony Myshlayaev: Super retro, man. I not the kind that you would bring back for fashionable reasons that 
 [00:09:27] Brett Stanley: Yeah. .That’s right. Um, So, so then when you went back to Thailand, so if you were in Canada, you were doing like, I guess kind of portraiture and you know, kind of commercial fashion stuff. I, I presume when, when you went back to Thailand, is that the sort of of shoot you were looking to do underwater or were you going more for landscape wildlife? 
 [00:09:47] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, that’s a, that’s another really good question. I mean, I came in to the underwater, underwater photography world with a very similar idea of what I’m doing now, actually. And I feel like I dive too deeply into scuba photography and all the fish eye and marine life stuff for a number of years. And there was a lot of value in taking that detour. 
 But coming back to shooting portraiture people like with, with, with with an emphasis on fashion there’s definitely, there’s definitely something fulfilling about it that I feel like I was missing all those years that I was shooting the fish and, you know, all the aquatic. 
 [00:10:28] Brett Stanley: Yeah, how did you then get back into sort of shooting people? 
 [00:10:32] Tony Myshlayaev: So I guess at first I didn’t really know that free diving was something I would enjoy. I returned to Kotel planning to just scuba dive and shoot photographs, and I thought scuba diving was the coolest thing in the world. I made my money by shooting open water courses, so like very basic grunt work where you shoot a bunch of people flapping around and you know, that’s all good. 
 And, and I got a lot of practice with that. I got very efficient at finding good angles, not that I was getting good poses. But then on my days off, I could hop on a boat, you know, for free. And I got my self reliant diver certification so I could go scuba diving alone. And then I, I, I basically just started at that point, I, I, I, Just shooting as much aquatic life as I can and soaking up the, the industry and finding out who the big shots were and what their photographs look like and what I should do. 
 And then eventually after spending some time in Indonesia as well, I worked on a liverboard in Raja Ampo. I met some of the scuba diving photographers and I’m not gonna put out any names cuz there were some that really inspired me and were every, every bit as much as I thought they were like, great. 
 However, there were some that I met that were so spoiled, so pampered, so not independent in creating the work that they did, that at the end of that experience, I felt a little bit burnt out on scuba photography because the industry to me seemed. Not what I thought. It was like when you help someone find apy Me, sea horse or some kind of endemic creature as a guide, and then you see an article written about how they discovered it in this very rare expedition in some corner of the world, when you know that literally everything was passed down to them. 
 The guide found them, the fish, the you know, they had like a very nice meal in AC after with a hot shower. And you know, they’re clearly not like themselves independent in understanding any of it. Aside from just shooting a photo. I started to become really like, yeah, I, I just became quite jaded on, on the idea of scuba photography and, and just that industry, it felt like a little bit outdated to me and it felt like a lot of people were just grandfathered in from an era where there was less technical. 
 Perfection in underwater photography. 
 [00:13:13] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:13:14] Tony Myshlayaev: And and, and it just made me a little bit upset cuz I was like quite young and I was, I, I’d met some scuba photographers that just inspired me. They were very independent. Like Simon Buxton and Serge r Borge, I think you pronounce his last name. They were, they were in Lambay straight. 
 And I saw those guys one day on a trip and they were speaking in Indonesian. They were building up the resort together. They were going off on their time going out on their time off to shoot some incredible work. And like, those look like in independent, like people to me, they looked like, they looked like they had accomplished something as humans, not just like making some pretty work. 
 But then other people I met who were so pampered just made me feel a little bit upset about that and it really resonated with me for a while. I didn’t know what to do with that information, but it just kind of hit me. And then eventually I was asked to photograph Alexa Malov the world record holder for depth 
 [00:14:11] Brett Stanley: Right, 
 [00:14:12] Tony Myshlayaev: in freed diving in in Koow. 
 And my friend, who was the manager of a free diving shop called Blue Immersion, asked me to come out and shoot it on scuba, embarrassingly enough. But but yeah, I was known as being quite reliable, so I was the guy to ask and I came and did it. And he offered to let me join a beginner course for free diving a few weeks after that. 
 So the results of the photo shoot were good. And my impression of the beginner course was that I absolutely loved it. I, I, I immediately took to free diving. I was quite an active person. I liked exercise and I felt. Like I belonged to the community right away. A lot of people had a very healthy lifestyle. 
 They were very self con or he health conscious. And I found myself to be just like a lot more fulfilled around people like that cuz you know, the scuba community can be a little bit unhealthy. Like beers immediately after getting up, a lot of them smoke. Yeah. So all of a sudden I felt like this was, this was more of my kind of place, like I’m surrounded by people in the water that I want to be with. 
 And also outside the water, we kind of had similar goals for how we spent our time. 
 [00:15:25] Brett Stanley: Right. 
 [00:15:25] Tony Myshlayaev: of hiking, lots of exercise and improvement. And then it just, that’s philosophy started to kind of snowball a bit where we started to just explore and. Go off fun diving, snorkeling near the island. We start to find cooler and cooler locations to dive and I would just bring my camera. 
 There was never really like some decisive moment where I said I was gonna shoot people in the water. It really slowly just evolved to be the fun thing to do. And then when Covid hit is when it really all kind of fell into place and I started to make my portfolio the way I think you, you know, my work to be. 
 [00:16:08] Brett Stanley: Oh, right. So it was that recently. 
 [00:16:09] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, 
 [00:16:10] Brett Stanley: Amazing. 
 [00:16:11] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah. . 
 [00:16:12] Brett Stanley: Is, is that just because 
 you were kind of confined, like, and you had more time to, to kind of hone these kind of skills 
 [00:16:20] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah, I think so. What had happened is as everybody started to leave that island, I was, I was on the island of Kotow, so for two years I basically, There with very little movement in and out. And we, I mean, I’m just trying to think of like, there was never really a decisive moment of, again, like when it started to happen, but we just, we would take farther and farther swims, like the boats weren’t operating, so we started to become more brave as to where we would swim to, like we swam to neighboring islands, which aren’t that far away, and we’d find some cool little caves where a ray of light might come in or something like that, and just kind of play around with some concepts and get really excited about some mediocre results. 
 But, It started to kind of feed that satisfaction of like, Oh, I really like adventuring and, and, and shooting. Like, we never need a boat. You know, the boats always take as far away from shore, but there’s so many cool things right in front of our eyes, like right, right under our nose, so to speak. Where, why are we going so far from the island when, like, the coast is so much more dynamic. 
 I started to kind of think more about my days as a studio photographer where you have light and shadow versus just pure open ocean, 
 [00:17:38] Brett Stanley: Yep. 
 [00:17:39] Tony Myshlayaev: and realized that I was having a lot more fun with the light around rocks and, and places of like, you know, dynamic lighting, so to speak. And then, and then finally I started, I, I, I, I stopped hiking altogether and I dedicated all my time into just being in the water. 
 And whether I was alone or with friends, I, I made a goal to free dive around the whole island. So I dived every rock. Around that island and I made a map of all the locations that I found and the best times of days to be there and, and where the light raise would be and all that. 
 [00:18:15] Brett Stanley: That’s amazing. 
 [00:18:16] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. 
 [00:18:17] Brett Stanley: big is this island? How big is Kotel? 
 [00:18:19] Tony Myshlayaev: Oh, it’s not big. 
 I think it’s like 21 square kilometers. It’s like four, five kilometers long, like two kilometers wide. So it took a, it took a few months of, of, of like swims. And I did it in sections. But logistically, what’s beautiful about that island is you can drive your motorbike to any beach and there’s many beaches. 
 So you can do a whole segment and then walk back to your bike or park your bike in the middle of those two segments, walk to one, swim to the other, and then walk back. So there was always a way of doing it without the need for a boat to be able to circumnavigate it. And I don’t think there’s many places in the world. 
 that are set up that way, and it, it, it took doing that to realize it and appreciate it for all it’s worth. 
 [00:19:09] Brett Stanley: Yeah. So with that island, because I, I know a lot of the reason that the boats sort of take you out away from islands is because the clarity on the, on the sort of shore isn’t the best. Is is it pretty good in, in kotow in terms of just shore diving? 
 [00:19:24] Tony Myshlayaev: it’s quite uniform, so unless, like right around Kotow, it’s about 40 meters depth, so like a hundred and twenty five, a hundred thirty feet or something like that. 
 [00:19:34] Brett Stanley: Yeah, 
 [00:19:35] Tony Myshlayaev: So it drops off relatively quick on the east side and a little bit more gradually on the west side. But in general, the visibility doesn’t very much between the dive sites and the coast. 
 Luckily, and so for that reason, I, I was able to do a lot of stuff right around the coast, even though. Kota is not really known for good conditions. A like, it is in fact pretty crappy visibility on a regular basis, and I just evolved my style around that. 
 [00:20:09] Brett Stanley: Oh, okay. Yeah. So you just learnt to work with, with the the conditions? 
 [00:20:14] Tony Myshlayaev: Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. I, I actually have a lot of problems when the water is very clear. 
 [00:20:20] Brett Stanley: Why is that? Because you don’t get the, the sort of the texture of the water that you like in your photos 
 [00:20:26] Tony Myshlayaev: I feel like I’ve become extremely dependent on the separation you get between your subject and the background when you have lower visibility. 
 [00:20:36] Brett Stanley: right? Yeah. 
 [00:20:37] Tony Myshlayaev: so some of the things that happen is as as like, you know, you shoot into the distance is that, you know, contrast falls away. So things become more flat. 
 Colors fall off into blue. And yeah, like, like those are two main things. There’s other ones, but in general those create such a lovely separation. Like you can have someone in the foreground be, you know, nice skin tones, nice, beautiful range of light. You get more dynamic range in the foreground as well as it falls off, everything becomes quite boring and flat. 
 But you can use that to your advantage because that creates that separation, that wide angle lenses kind of struggle to give you you know, with wide angle everything’s in focus. We can’t just put something in the background out of focus, but instead of having like bouquet and depth of field, I just have a fall off of color and contrast. 
 [00:21:33] Brett Stanley: Yeah, so I was gonna say like that because of the wide ankle lenses, you, you, you don’t get that depth of field like that nice, buttery background, 
 but you’re getting that through the, the environment, through the haze that’s in the water is giving you that beautiful separation. That’s, that’s a great way of thinking about it. 
 [00:21:49] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, it’s, it, you gotta, you gotta work with it. Of course, like every photograph I was taught in school has requires like five things, like five properties to to make it like successful compositionally. Not to do with like, like pose or story or anything, but do you know what those are? I 
 [00:22:06] Brett Stanley: feel free to, feel free to explain. 
 [00:22:08] Tony Myshlayaev: so yeah, I mean there’s color harmonies obviously. 
 There’s texture, emphasizing texture, which a lot of people miss. You know, emphasize emphasis on shapes, lines, and finally in space or depth. And how do we show space or depth with with wide angle lenses? You know, there’s a few ways like scale, having someone big in the foreground and small in the background and, you know, they’re both people or both the same object. 
 And obviously because it’s in the. It’s, it’s suggestive that it’s smaller that it’s farther away. 
 [00:22:39] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:22:40] Tony Myshlayaev: Right. So that’s kind of like, yeah, basically using white balance and contrast is another way of showing space or depth, so to speak. 
 [00:22:50] Brett Stanley: Yep. 
 [00:22:50] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, 
 [00:22:51] Brett Stanley: So in terms of having your subject, like skin tones looking, looking natural, but then keeping the blueness and the deepness of, of the water or having that contrast color-wise between your subject and the background. 
 [00:23:02] Tony Myshlayaev: Right. Exactly. I mean, depends on the depth, but yeah, it needs to be relative for sure. So obviously if you’re down at like 20, 30 meters, you’re not gonna have accurate skin tones, but if they’re more neutral than the background is blue, 
 [00:23:18] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:23:19] Tony Myshlayaev: gonna have like that suggestion that yeah, that person’s in front, they’re more clear, their skin’s not that blue. 
 And the background is super. If you’re very shallow, you can get very accurate skin tones and have it fall off to blue. 
 [00:23:33] Brett Stanley: I think the whole skin tone thing as well is, is very much a creative decision. Like I, I hear a lot of people talking about, you know, how hard it’s to get skin tones looking natural underwater. But for me, that’s a creative decision. You know, sometimes I don’t want the skin tones to look natural, you know, I 
 want it to feel like this is deep in the ocean as it would look to the eye. 
 So you kind of, you know, there is play in there. There’s no kind of set rule of how that has to be. 
 [00:24:00] Tony Myshlayaev: Absolutely. And yeah, I’m glad you say that because you know, a lot of what I see with free diving photography these days, or underwater photography is people do this whole like, you know, the classic, like select the person and make them look , like super yellow, and then make the background look. 
 [00:24:18] Brett Stanley: Yep. 
 [00:24:19] Tony Myshlayaev: It’s, I’m sorry, but it’s, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. 
 Like, I wanna vomit . 
 [00:24:24] Brett Stanley: right? 
 [00:24:24] Tony Myshlayaev: it. It looks so, like physics does not work like that. Like, Please stop. Just stop. 
 [00:24:31] Brett Stanley: Yeah. I think the thing that with shooting underwater, and this relates to a whole whole bunch of stuff, is that people don’t, the general public, we look at photographs and make a decision on whether we like it or not based. Our experience of the world. So, you know, above water, we know what a person looks like. 
 We know what the skin tone’s meant to look like. We know what the size of a person is. We know what the general shape of a person is. Whereas when we go under water, I think we get away with a lot more because people are like, Whoa, I’ve never seen this before. And so, you know, there’s a lot of leeway in terms of, of what you can get away with. 
 So I think some people are, are sort of doing their post production to kind of cater to the above water people, 
 [00:25:15] Tony Myshlayaev: Sure. I mean, I mean that’s very diplomatic of you to say. That’s nice. But I’m gonna go ahead and say like, that’s just a lack of understanding of photography. Yeah. If you’re talking about a master, like a genius like Martin Sip Panta who does that and has created that style and does it so perfectly, I can respect you saying something like that for sure. 
 However, when you see a lot of people just try to do it as a way of creating separation cuz they have a sloppy composition. I mean sure people above water can get away like they can get away with it for above water viewers, but you know, you don’t have to be like, A chef to enjoy really good quality food or tell the difference between okay. 
 Food and really good quality food. And I think it’s the same thing with photography. Sure. Like they can get away with with slightly lesser aesthetics. But if to, if the, that same land person, the person that’s like not a diver were to look at two types of work, they could still see the difference and appreciate someone who is kind of checking more boxes, so to speak. 
 [00:26:27] Brett Stanley: yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it’s Photography itself comes down to the experience of the viewer, I think. And that’s my whole, whole kind of approach to photography is that I’m not trying to inform them of something. I’m trying to give them a palette to kind of feel something from and what they feel or what they come away from it with is totally up to them. 
 [00:26:50] Tony Myshlayaev: Sure. Yeah, 
 [00:26:52] Brett Stanley: so, you know, I guess that’s, art is in in the eye of the beholder. I guess that’s kinda what that means, but 
 [00:26:57] Tony Myshlayaev: Totally. Totally. Yeah. I mean, what you say it, it’s very similar. I think for myself as well is uh, it doesn’t matter what technical pros or whatever sort of Photoshop or whatever you wanna throw in it, none of that matters in the end. It’s very much like a binary decision. It’s a one or a zero. 
 [00:27:17] Brett Stanley: yeah. 
 I like it or 
 [00:27:18] Tony Myshlayaev: like it or they don’t. 
 [00:27:21] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally. And that’s, I mean, I know you teach stuff as well. I do workshops and, and kind of teach underwater photography. And a lot of what I don’t try to teach people is, is a creative decision. You know, A lot of what I’m teaching people is technically, this is how you do it, but what you do with this knowledge is totally up to you because 
 everyone likes something different, you know? 
 And I’ve seen some amazing work that is totally outta focus and blurred and, you know technically not great, but creatively amazing 
 [00:27:52] Tony Myshlayaev: Right. 
 [00:27:53] Brett Stanley: a different kind of world. 
 [00:27:55] Tony Myshlayaev: For sure. And, you know that is, that is so good that you do that. It, it, it’s, it’s really unfortunate to see a lot of people kind of conform into a clone army of, of a specific style. You know? You know, it’s better to teach someone to fish cuz then you feed them for life, Right. Rather than giving them a fish where you just feed them for a day. 
 It’s, it’s, it’s my philosophy with teaching as well. I think a lot of people try and ask me what my creative process is and it’s, you know, a, as much as I’m happy to share it, it’s just not very beneficial to them to know. They won’t really even have the same interpretation of what I’m saying. And that’s good. 
 You know, it’s rather, it’s rather that I, it, it’s better that I teach them how to use their camera and let them know that anything they wanna do is okay and should be encouraged rather than saying like, This is right, this is wrong. 
 [00:28:52] Brett Stanley: yeah. 
 [00:28:53] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. 
 [00:28:53] Brett Stanley: And that’s the thing too. Like, and, and, and it took me a long time to realize this in my photography career, is that you know, we, as we are sort of coming up. In the industry and we are learning, we kind of look at other people’s work and we go, Oh, that’s what I wanna do. I wanna do that work. And then we try it and we try and create something and it never kind of meets the mark. 
 [00:29:11] Tony Myshlayaev: Right. 
 [00:29:12] Brett Stanley: And it’s not until you kind of stop trying to imitate, I guess, someone else’s work and kind of just use the techniques that they’ve used to create your own stuff, that you kind of start to feel more confident about it. 
 Um, you know, it wasn’t until I went underwater that I found my voice because I didn’t see anyone kind of doing the stuff I was doing, so I couldn’t kind of follow them and imitate them. 
 I had to kind of create it myself. 
 And so it made me, yes, that was the first time I felt really confident about my own work. It was when I 
 [00:29:46] Tony Myshlayaev: absolutely. And, and I mean, you should, you should feel confident about your work. It’s great. I love seeing your poets, man. Every time you put something out, it’s like, wow. 
 [00:29:55] Brett Stanley: Oh, thank you man. 
 [00:29:57] Tony Myshlayaev: It’s it, it obviously takes a bit of like, you kind of have to sell a bit of your soul to make it look as good as you do. 
 And it’s nice to see someone like committed like that. It’s it’s nice to surround yourself with those kinds of influences because it makes you realize you’re not actually that crazy yourself. 
 [00:30:16] Brett Stanley: Oh, no, totally. Yeah, I mean, that’s the reason I do the podcast is to convince myself on the, on a weekly basis that I’m not crazy for doing this stuff, you know, 
 [00:30:25] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, it’s good. 
 [00:30:27] Brett Stanley: So, so let’s get back to your work. So in terms of what you’re doing now, like once you kind of moved into the free diving world and you started shooting more in that sort of stuff and more closer to shore, what, what are you doing lighting, lighting wise? Are you doing any additional lighting or are you just using what’s available? 
 [00:30:44] Tony Myshlayaev: Well, it’s the portfolio that you see that’s, that’s available for people to see is is all natural light. I absolutely love using. I use a lot of yellow, I use a lot of blue. I like to combine them. And a lot of that has to do with playing with the physics of light and white balance. So I don’t use any artificial lighting at the moment, even though I have started to experiment with it. 
 And last night I actually met with one of my old photography professors from school and it’s been less than 24 hours, but he’s definitely just lit a new fire in me for for some new concepts in where I wanna move forward with my work. So I think you’re gonna see a bit of a change and, and more of a focus on artificial lighting in the future. 
 [00:31:34] Brett Stanley: Oh, interesting. Can you talk about that fire or do we need to, to wait and see what. 
 [00:31:38] Tony Myshlayaev: no, I mean, basically I, I mean I am obsessed with technical. The technical side of photography. I, I think it’s clear in my work that I love light and that I’m obsessed with lighting. I look for it in nature, but I mean, he proposed something to me last night, which was quite brilliant. He, he was just like, So what happens if you find like a really cool spot and the light will never hit it because it’s facing north or it’s facing south, Like, that’s it. 
 You’re just gonna throw it away. And I’m like, Well, I don’t, I don’t know, like , I don’t know. And he’s, and he’s just like, Man, like, what did you learn in school? Because I was obsessed. Like I was a sponge in school. I absorbed everything in all my technical classes. I loved using the studio on my days off. And he’s basically just like, you know, all this already. Like, why aren’t you, why aren’t you doing it in the water? And I’m like, Well, I’m operating alone. And you know, like you need light stance and you need other people. He is like, , get some assistance, like make it work. And it’s easier said than done, you know, cuz a lot of people are just more interested in finding out what you’re doing and then going to try and do it themselves. 
 However you know, you, you gotta let people in. Like if you find the right team, you find the right assistance. Like it’s worth it, you know? And 
 [00:32:52] Brett Stanley: Oh, absolutely. 
 [00:32:53] Tony Myshlayaev: teaching someone they can help you too. 
 [00:32:56] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. Yeah. I think so part of my, not issue with photography, but kind of one of the things I’ve had to overcome is that it is quite a, a lonely. Endeavor. You know, we, we tend to kind of work alone. If we do have assistance and teams then, you know, they’re people that we’ve kind of, you know, sort of built up and kind of brought together. 
 So when, when I do get to work with a team it’s always great. You know, you have so much more, I guess, input from people and you also have so much more ability to do things cuz you’re not trying to do it all by yourself. 
 [00:33:28] Tony Myshlayaev: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I always like to make the metaphor of saying like, I have a certain amount of ram, right? And like, how much random excess memory do I need to dedicate to things other than creating good work? And, and that’s where you really find your appreciation for a team that knows how to help you and knows what it is that you do in order to take some of that. 
 You know, like so that you can dedicate more of your ram or your mental strength, your mental focus to just creating the best work you possibly can, 
 [00:34:04] Brett Stanley: Well, I mean, that’s the thing is that, and especially for you in open water, like you are, I guess for every dive, you’re like, you’re the dive master, you are the, the photographer you are, the safety, you are the location scout. All these things that when you have someone else to do those things means that you can then just concentrate on being the creative. 
 [00:34:24] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s something a lot of people don’t anticipate when they come to work with me um, is uh, they forget their own skill level is like a very big factor, in the results. And they think it’s gonna be all me that, that makes it happen. And I mean, I can do as much as, as much as I can, which, which varies from day to day, depending on how. 
 How good someone is at diving, right. I, I can’t create some of my best work if somebody has trouble, you know, breaking through the surface and duck diving a few meters down. Like, sure I can help them. I, I have techniques for helping people that don’t even know how to swim, look like they can free dive. 
 But in general, like, I think that most people don’t realize how much I’m doing in terms of planning the time, the location around the weather the pose, what it is that they’re wearing, what kind of mask they have on, and factoring in how much energy I think they have that day to accomplish all the things that we talked about. It’s, it’s a lot. It’s not just shooting, like the shooting is probably the easiest part. 
 [00:35:34] Brett Stanley: Yeah, 
 and I think that’s the thing too, especially with the open water stuff is that that moment where you actually are shooting, which is, you know, probably like 30, 45 seconds or whatever is the quietest, easiest, calmest part of it because you just have to, you know, you just kind of go, Well, forbid for me, I go to my happy place and I start to meditate while I, while I take the photos 
 [00:35:53] Tony Myshlayaev: A hundred percent. 
 [00:35:54] Brett Stanley: before and after is when the craziness happens and you know, that’s when all the energy is spent. 
 [00:35:59] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah, for sure. Trying to, just trying to communicate what it is that they need to modify for the next dive. You know yeah, basically just, just, just working on communication is, is is the most difficult part in for a portrait photographer, I think. And that’s what it is we’re doing. The only difference between us and a land portrait photographer is that yeah, we have that little peaceful moment as we, as we get to work, whereas they have to keep talking to the model throughout the whole process. 
 [00:36:31] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Which, which for us is a, is a double edged sword. You know, it’s, it’s, we have to free pre-load everyone with all the directions so that they know what they’re doing when they go down. 
 So that we, you know, cuz it’s so we, we can’t communicate under there. But at the same time, we get this nice, beautiful, quiet moment when magic happens. 
 [00:36:49] Tony Myshlayaev: totally. Yeah. Absolutely. And I enjoy that. I think that’s what a lot of free diving photographers lack is their ability to communicate with the model. You know, I’m sure you’ve had models come. That have worked with other underwater photographers and the results have maybe been subpar, but then when they’re in front of your camera, you find that you get much better results with them. 
 You know? And if you’ve ever had that happen, like, you know that a lot of it just has to do with communication. Like, it’s not like we know some secret angle or anything. It’s just about like being able to work together better. 
 [00:37:28] Brett Stanley: I mean for me it’s, it’s, it’s what makes my photography I feel so good is that I work with regular people, you know, every day who either have never done this before or can’t swim even. And I have, you know, 10 years worth of knowledge to be able to impart to them quickly and I can curate it and go, Oh, well you need to try this because you are doing this underwater. 
 And I know the cause and effect, and I think it’s the direction that I give gets me those photographs rather than my skill as a photographer. 
 [00:37:59] Tony Myshlayaev: Precisely. Exactly. It’s like people keep thinking they need to know more about their camera or more about Photoshop, and sometimes it’s like you just put the person in the wrong place, or the pose is weird and you just didn’t communicate to them like what it is they need to do. They’re moving the way they move because of what they think you are saying. 
 [00:38:23] Brett Stanley: Yeah, because they can’t see themselves either. They don’t really know what their body’s doing underwater. 
 [00:38:29] Tony Myshlayaev: right. There’s no, there’s been no like feedback, there’s been no constructive criticism. It’s usually their first or second experience, and they’re not even gonna see it until after the fact. I always show them the back of my camera. I I have nothing to hide. 
 [00:38:42] Brett Stanley: Oh, me too. Yeah. I mean, I, most of the time it’s the only way to explain to them what they’re doing, you know, 
 [00:38:48] Tony Myshlayaev: For sure. I know some people that don’t do that. Yeah, that’s why I’m saying that. But yeah, I agree with you a hundred percent. 
 [00:38:55] Brett Stanley: Yeah. I dunno how you can. Help someone to become better without giving them proper feedback. And I think visual feedback is the most important. 
 [00:39:04] Tony Myshlayaev: I agree a hundred percent. And I mean, one other thing we haven’t mentioned is how important it is to give them the confidence with, with like very positive feedback on what it is that they’re doing correctly. So they feel more inclined to do things that are more expressive, more outgoing, you know? 
 [00:39:26] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. Especially if you’ve got someone who is not confident and, and overthinking the whole thing and they keep putting themselves in front of themselves, you know that they’re getting in their own way to get the posing, you know, It, it is part of our job is, is kind of being a, a psychologist. 
 You know, we 
 [00:39:43] Tony Myshlayaev: A hundred percent. 
 [00:39:44] Brett Stanley: break these people down a bit and, and get them outta their own. 
 [00:39:48] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. I mean, I have a tendency, I think you can tell already, just by like my energy level and how I talk, is that I tend to never try and give off a sense of any sort of confidence or arrogance. Like I, my main goal is just to make people feel like I’m there, you know, having fun, like not taking it seriously at all. 
 [00:40:12] Brett Stanley: Yep. 
 [00:40:12] Tony Myshlayaev: And and just, you know, when it comes time to talk about it, like be extremely professional, but never hold that sort of energy of like, this is a serious thing. I just always want to feel like we’re just having fun, we’re being stupid. It’s okay to make mistakes. We can laugh at ourselves. . I I know like my work can come off as quite artistic, but most people when they meet me, they’re quite shocked as to like how much of a goof I can be. 
 [00:40:41] Brett Stanley: Right. Yeah. 
 [00:40:42] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. But that’s, that’s like literally part of the psychology of making people feel comfortable around you, you know, like, you know, when they have this preconceived notion of who you are and that, like, they have to step up to the level of like, whatever your previous photographs looked like. It, they put a lot of pressure on themselves and like, it’s, it’s really like my, I, my strategy is just to make them know that it’s totally fine. 
 Like, we’re, we’re gonna do better just by having fun and just enjoying each other’s company. 
 [00:41:11] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally. I, I come from this, from the same position of, of just making sure they know, you know, there’s no pressure, there’s plenty of time. We are, this is hard, you know, this is the hardest form of modeling and photography there is. 
 [00:41:25] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah 
 [00:41:26] Brett Stanley: and it’s just gonna take some time. 
 [00:41:27] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I mean, it, it, it, it takes a lot of time to, to put these, like, to put these poses together and a lot of people feel pressure that they need to do it in one or two dives. And I mean, personally I just want them to make mistakes and just get bored of me shooting them. Cuz that’s when the real stuff starts to happen. 
 Cuz they just don’t care anymore. They’re like, Okay, okay, okay. Next one, next one. I messed up. I messed up. And when you, when when they come up and they’re like, Oh, I messed up next one. It’s like they’re already self-correcting. Like they’re already the momentum’s going. You’re just there like laughing and just being like, Yeah, you’re right, you’re right. 
 Let’s do it. I know you got this on the next go. 
 [00:42:03] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Like they’re, they’re aware of the changes that need to happen and I think that’s, that’s what the, you know, spending the time before the dive even of letting them know that if this happens, then you need to do this, and if, if this happens, then this will help. Correct That, you know, giving them those tools so that when they go down each time, they know what to do, they know how to, to correct. 
 [00:42:23] Tony Myshlayaev: A hundred percent. Yeah. And and then, and then that’s my favorite. That’s like, that’s when it’s really flowing. Usually it depends on the person, but you know, sometimes within 10 to 15 minutes these people can be like very comfortable and open. And I love when they start throwing out suggestions my way. 
 And they’re like, What about this? And I’m like, Nice. Like this person’s getting comfortable. Like now we’re 
 [00:42:46] Brett Stanley: yeah. yeah. It’s, that’s that feeling when you come up and you’re like, I have no notes. This is, just do that again, 
 [00:42:52] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love that . Yeah, 
 [00:42:56] Brett Stanley: The, the strangest thing that I have is so many people, you know, will comment on my work, whether it’s on Instagram or social or whatever, saying, I love your work, but I could never, I could never be as good as these models that you work with. 
 And I’m like, They’re not models. These are just regular people. You know, 25% of the work that I do is with actual experienced underwater models, Everything else. Is just a regular person who came and said, I want to try that. 
 [00:43:24] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I get the same for sure. 
 [00:43:28] Brett Stanley: Yeah. And just letting them know that it, this is possible. Like you, you can be in these photos really as, as, as the, the same as the ones that you admire. It just takes a little bit of wrangling and a little bit of relaxation really to be able to get 
 [00:43:44] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. Yeah. Most people are quite surprised. In, in on my end as well. Like a lot of what you’re saying resonates with me. I’ve had people message me being like, I’d love to work with you, but I could just, like, I heard that if I need to work with you, like I need to be good at free diving. It’s like, What? 
 What do you mean ? Like, of course, I, I, if somebody wants to go to a cave or somewhere, that’s a dangerous environment. I’m not gonna take a. 
 [00:44:10] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:44:11] Tony Myshlayaev: a fact. You know, you need to do a course if you want to go to a dangerous environment, but if you just wanna go and get some like nice, safe photos in like an open location that’s beautiful and tropical, like you don’t have to do all that stuff. 
 You can, you can be a regular person, you know, and just, that’s what people wanna see. In fact, Brett, I find that most of the photos that are quite successful that I put out are the ones where the poses are not so flashy. They’re the ones where people look at and they feel like, Hey, this could be me. 
 [00:44:46] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally. Yeah. They can see themselves. 
 [00:44:48] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah, exactly. 
 So like when I find like myself, like having a very posey like, you know, expressive, like arch back, like, you know, you know, fancy poses that are more high fashion or so, A lot of people can’t seem to relate to that, but like some beautiful moment with a very simple clean pose tends to be usually the better performing post. 
 [00:45:14] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that that resonates a lot with, with with people online. I think that’s a social media sort of thing as well, is to be able to have sort of images that don’t look like they couldn’t do it themselves, but they couldn’t be in that. Yeah. 
 [00:45:29] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. 
 [00:45:30] Brett Stanley: So a lot of your work is, is both, you know, males and females. 
 Do you, do you find there’s a difference between working with, with the different sex? 
 [00:45:39] Tony Myshlayaev: Well, yeah, I mean in terms of the poses I’d like them to do for sure, I, I’m quite, I’m quite thoughtful about poses and I, I mean like, like male and female beauty is very different 
 [00:45:55] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:45:57] Tony Myshlayaev: I, I love the gym. Like I love exercising. I can totally appreciate like a very good male body, and I know what it is that I look for when I’m exercising, when I’m trying to improve myself, 
 [00:46:11] Brett Stanley: Yep. 
 [00:46:12] Tony Myshlayaev: would look good on me. 
 And so I, I really think about that for, for the people I work with. You know, just being able to emphasize certain muscles. Knowing, knowing knowing what they’re called, what they’re supposed to look like when they’re engaged. So oftentimes when I photograph men, I tend to photograph them in active positions in a sense of, you know, they’re moving through the environment and it depends on whether they’re, they’re like thick and quite built, or whether they’re skinny and tall. 
 And those are between those two body types. I use very different poses. And then for women as well, it’s for female beauty, it’s obviously more to do with curves and with like an elongated body. Like for example, I guess with females, I tend to be a lot more strict about having their toes pointed as like one tiny little thing that I do. 
 Not necessarily all the time, it’s circumstantial, but I will, I will stress it a lot more. But for men, I feel like it’s quite the contrary. Like, I don’t want them to look like a ballerina. In fact with men, I like to make sure that their heels are always planted on the ground and they intend to float up and just touch with their toes. 
 So, you know I, I, I, those are very small examples of, of the long list of things that go through my head, but but I, I, I’m not. I’m very much a technical photographer. I, I see things in terms of just optical success. Like does this emphasize strength? Does this emphasize like grace? And what would be the objectively best angle to do that? 
 I don’t tend to bring my emotions into it that much, unless it’s somebody I really care for. But in, in general, I just think of it very objectively. I, I do not ever feel like at all, any, like, sexuality, even though it may like emphasize like, you know, beautiful, sexy features of someone when I’m working, I am the opposite of aroused 
 [00:48:18] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. Yeah, 
 [00:48:20] Tony Myshlayaev: I am. I’m ex, Yeah. I’m extremely focused on. This is a six pack, it will look the best in this light. Or Yeah, your breasts must be emphasized. It’s a fact that they must be emphasized. Like, do not take it personally. I just want you to look as beautiful as you can possibly look. 
 [00:48:40] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 It’s a clinical response. It’s a clinical approach. 
 [00:48:43] Tony Myshlayaev: For sure, for sure. So for me it’s, it’s, it’s very based in just the satisfaction comes in, seeing me successfully make someone look good and feel good about themselves and proud of how they look. Like, I get really, really happy from getting that response from a client. 
 [00:49:04] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. Yeah. That, that is almost a rush of, of shooting underwater is is hearing, you know, you show them back the screen and you hear them go, Oh dude, 
 [00:49:13] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. Yeah. 
 [00:49:14] Brett Stanley: Oh, let’s do that again. Let’s do more of 
 [00:49:16] Tony Myshlayaev: For sure and then, And then they get excited and it doesn’t matter how much they need to breathe or how much water is of in their nose, like they’re willing to suffer like endlessly just to keep it going. , that’s when you know you’re doing a good job. 
 [00:49:29] Brett Stanley: That’s right. Yeah. There is there is a meme that goes around every now and again on Facebook, which is badly describe your job. And mine is always that I I, I unsuccessfully drown people for a living a 
 [00:49:43] Tony Myshlayaev: pretty accurate. 
 [00:49:45] Brett Stanley: Yeah. 
 [00:49:45] Tony Myshlayaev: You’re the worst drown of all time. 
 [00:49:48] Brett Stanley: I fail every time. It’s horrible but my success rate 
 [00:49:53] Tony Myshlayaev: to hold on to that Yeah. Well, , fair enough. It’s true. I mean, in caves and stuff, like people have gotten scratched up, you know? And I’m like, Oh my God. Like, you know, like, Are you all right? And then they’re like, Yeah, keep it going. Keep it going. I’m fine. I’m fine. 
 [00:50:10] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally 
 [00:50:11] Tony Myshlayaev: back on the boat and they’re like, bleeding. 
 It’s like, I feel so bad. And they’re like, It really hurts. It’s like, why don’t you say something in the water? Like, no, no, no, no, no. We had to do it. We had, it had to be 
 [00:50:22] Brett Stanley: That’s right. Yeah. It was purely consensual and it was mutual, so, you know, Totally fine. 
 [00:50:28] Tony Myshlayaev: Just make sure you have that agreement, sign that release form. 
 [00:50:32] Brett Stanley: totally. So, so how much of your work is coming from of regular people, Like people just kind of wanting to get photos of themselves under the water? 
 [00:50:41] Tony Myshlayaev: These days a lot more than during covid. Like during Covid, I was just asking models to come out with me as I was building my portfolio. But just looking. I’m just like whipped out my Instagram right now. And yeah, most of them are, are like, yeah, people that hire me out. 
 [00:50:59] Brett Stanley: And so are they just finding you through the Instagram? I mean, cuz you get such a good I guess exposure from, from social media, you get resha quite a lot. Is, is that where a lot of the work’s coming from? 
 [00:51:10] Tony Myshlayaev: It seems to be that way. Yeah, I mean, I, I got lucky. I got really fortunate and I also met Dan Balian last year 
 [00:51:18] Brett Stanley: Oh right. 
 [00:51:19] Tony Myshlayaev: and he came through Thailand and I, I got to work with him and it seems like he definitely helped my credibility quite a bit. I think a lot of international clients started to come in through him. 
 And a lot of my followers that were, that are international came in, came in that way. Although I did have a Thai customer base. 
 [00:51:40] Brett Stanley: Right. Yeah. And is that actual Thai people or is it more expats who are living in, in that area? 
 [00:51:46] Tony Myshlayaev: Both actually. I, I’m, I have like I’m, I’m in the Thai free diving community. I’m, I’m working on my Thai, I can speak it Soso, and then I’m learning to read and write. And a lot of like the people in, in Bangkok and Pettet that love to travel, like the more fortunate Tide people, they, they they see me as the go-to guy for this sort of stuff. 
 [00:52:10] Brett Stanley: Oh, great. Yep. And so are you traveling much with this work? I know you just went to the Santos down in Mexico. Are you getting out of Thailand much at the moment? 
 [00:52:21] Tony Myshlayaev: Well, I mean, you know, everything’s just opening up this year and I got really fortunate to go to the Maldives, to the standard. It’s a resort. And I got to dive with the, with the mantas and stuff up there. And this trip for, for Mexico was actually just to see my girlfriend. 
 [00:52:40] Brett Stanley: All right. Yeah. 
 [00:52:42] Tony Myshlayaev: Before we started dating, she had a trip planned to go and train down, down there, like actually just, just free dive and go deeper. 
 And and then we kind of we, we had different plans. Like I had the plan to go to Canada, but I was gonna be in North America for the first time in four years. So I decided to, to book a, just like a week trip down to the Yucatan Peninsula to see her and then actually get some creative work after she had finished all her. 
 [00:53:10] Brett Stanley: So how did you find the sones? Was that the first time you’d been there? 
 [00:53:14] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, I mean, oh my God. You know, , it’s crazy. It blew my mind. I, I, I mean, we got a really good guide. My buddy Dino, like amazingly passionate adventure. He’s a free diver, but he loves the biology and geology of the cenotes and he knows so many. So having him guide us made the experience for me very fulfilling cuz he was able to answer a lot of the questions beyond free diving for me, 
 [00:53:44] Brett Stanley: Right. 
 [00:53:44] Tony Myshlayaev: I find the free diving community no offense to anyone but they’re a little bit too dimensional sometimes. 
 They’re a little bit too, like, focused on training and just don’t see anything besides going deeper. So I’m glad I didn’t hire a guide who was just. Highly obsessed with free diving. I wanted someone that loved exploring, wasn’t just concerned about how deep the hole was, like actually was thinking about the beauty of it and the light ray. 
 And he took us to a spot with a human skull. 
 [00:54:14] Brett Stanley: Oh, 
 [00:54:15] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, so I’m gonna be posting that in the next few weeks. I’m really excited about it. I think it turned out really cool, 
 [00:54:22] Brett Stanley: that’s incredible. I mean, that’s, that’s the thing too, is so I’m, I’m not particularly interested in going deep, Going deep to me doesn’t, doesn’t really interest me. I just wanna be down there for longer and to be able to explore. And, and what I see in your work is, is, you know, getting into these caves and getting into these little nooks and CRAs, like, it’s very, I find that more adventurous than going, you know, a hundred feet down. 
 [00:54:44] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. I agree with you. I’m not, I, I love diving deep like I do, but it has nothing to do with my work. It’s just a separate passion. 
 [00:54:55] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Yeah. It’s more of a um, extreme sport 
 going, you know, going as deep as you can and pushing your body to the limits. 
 [00:55:03] Tony Myshlayaev: totally. Yeah. It, it’s for me, like there’s absolutely no correlation between my work and, and going deep. I, I, I often prefer to work very shallow where I can get a lot more color in my images. 
 [00:55:18] Brett Stanley: And that’s the thing I think is, yeah, like, like you say, it’s, it’s separate, you know? And for me, I don’t tend to, I don’t tend to do much in the ocean where I’m not interested in the visual aspect of it. You know, I’m not an extreme sport kind of person. But for me, and I’ve said this many times on the show, is that holding the breath for me is like a super. being able to sort of, you know, go 10 feet down, but stay down there for, for minutes at a time and just explore and look around and not have the sound of the bubbles and the regulator and all that sort of stuff. To me, that’s, that’s the ultimate, 
 [00:55:49] Tony Myshlayaev: I agree. I I love that long dives that are just peaceful with no objective, just enjoying the moment. It’s, it’s everything. And, I did find that in Mexico, like the San Notees we were diving, I did go training on the last day. I did my deepest dive ever on the last day. But um, but for the most part I was just mainly interested in, in just seeing the beauty of these environments where there’s so much darkness. 
 Like you very rarely get water with darkness. That’s just not a combination that happens in nature very often. 
 [00:56:25] Brett Stanley: Oh yeah. And the mysterious nature of that whole area, you know, all these underwater caves, which, you know, could be freaky and scary, but I felt like a kind of a peacefulness there. Like it’s an, it’s an old soul that, that, you know, I didn’t feel scared. I felt at peace. 
 [00:56:43] Tony Myshlayaev: Same. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s nuts. Like when I was I mean that really helped my relaxation on the deep dive that I did at the end is I thought, I’ve never dived in the darkness and the cold like that. So I, I think I’m gonna freak out, but in it did the opposite, it like literally pushed me deeper into my relaxation 
 [00:57:04] Brett Stanley: yeah, yeah. Cuz it, it hones you, It kind of tunnel visions you a little bit 
 [00:57:08] Tony Myshlayaev: Totally. 
 And, and I feel more focused on the moment. Even on the dives I did like the, like when we were diving with the human skull, like that was down at like 70 feet. 
 [00:57:18] Brett Stanley: All. 
 [00:57:19] Tony Myshlayaev: and so the, we were doing like two minute dives for that and. 
 [00:57:23] Brett Stanley: Yeah, 
 [00:57:24] Tony Myshlayaev: And it wasn’t that bad. Like there was something about just having that chill of like the 23 degree water, that that just somehow didn’t make me freak out. 
 It just kind of, I don’t know, it just changed my, the way I think and the way I feel for the better 
 [00:57:44] Brett Stanley: yeah. 
 I kind of feel that way too. Like cuz I go to the Florida Springs a lot and there, I guess 23, like 72 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s just cold enough for me to feel alive. Like it wakes me up and I can feel the water going across my skin as I’m swimming. And you know, it, I, I, I don’t even wear a, a wetsuit. 
 I think I’m wearing, what did you call it, Biore. Just, 
 [00:58:08] Tony Myshlayaev: Oh man. 
 [00:58:10] Brett Stanley: Just, just my fat 
 [00:58:12] Tony Myshlayaev: damn. Lucky you. I don’t think I could do that, but that’s awesome. 
 [00:58:17] Brett Stanley: Well, yeah, I mean, I’m a big guy, so I kinda have a lot of insulation, but I, I, I kind of love the feeling of the water on my skin and it, and that kind of hones me as well. I think when the water gets too warm, I start to, to lose the conception of, of where I am. I think the, the kind of, not too cold, but cold enough that I’m feeling the water on my skin, I think really kind of helps me. 
 [00:58:37] Tony Myshlayaev: For sure, for sure. I’m planning on going free diving here in Canada before I leave. 
 [00:58:44] Brett Stanley: Oh, 
 wow. Yeah. 
 [00:58:45] Tony Myshlayaev: And, it’s, the surface is about the temperature. We’re talking about like 22, 23. But apparently down at 25 it, it’s half of that. 
 [00:58:54] Brett Stanley: Oh, yeah, right through the thermic 
 [00:58:56] Tony Myshlayaev: I’m very curious to see how I react. Probably like a little, little princess, but who knows? 
 [00:59:04] Brett Stanley: I mean, I’m in awe of people and I know people in Canada who go cold water diving and seek it out and, you know, just that kind of again, it’s kind of like an extreme sport of pushing their bodies to the limit and kind of breaking it through the other side. 
 [00:59:19] Tony Myshlayaev: Oh yeah. Big time for sure. I’m, I have no idea how I’m gonna react. We’re gonna do a photo shoot in a couple days here in, in Lynn Canyon, which is up in the mountains, and that’s snow melt rivers 
 [00:59:32] Brett Stanley: All right. Yeah. is there much snow melt probably at this time of year, or is, is the water kind of warmed up a little bit 
 [00:59:39] Tony Myshlayaev: well these rivers are still coming down from the mountains, so I’m guessing they’re coming out of like subterranean sort of reserves cuz I don’t see any snow on the tops of these mountains anymore. 
 [00:59:50] Brett Stanley: Yeah, but still cold. 
 [00:59:53] Tony Myshlayaev: but. , but it’s it’s definitely like, it, it’s the, the problem is like in the summer, the melt is so strong that these canyons and these rivers that are flowing through them, it’s too strong of a current 
 [01:00:06] Brett Stanley: Right? 
 [01:00:07] Tony Myshlayaev: and, and you couldn’t even dive them. 
 But like this time of the year, it’s, it’s not as intense. So it’s much easier to, to be in there. And apparently we’re not allowed to use fins, so 
 [01:00:18] Brett Stanley: Oh, wow. So, because you’ll kick up the bottom or, 
 [01:00:21] Tony Myshlayaev: I don’t know. Like they all just said no fins. Like I’m just connected here with Roberta of oceano 
 [01:00:27] Brett Stanley: Oh, that’s who I’m talking about. Yeah. I know Roberta. 
 [01:00:30] Tony Myshlayaev: yeah, yeah, yeah. So she’s amazing. 
 And uh, she’s super nice. She connected me with the community. I just said like, I’m here. I’d love to just like, come out with you guys and bring my camera and have some fun. And, and then, so we’ve been doing this WhatsApp chat group and, and planning this out. So I’m really excited. And they just said, No fins. 
 I, I’ve never seen them wear fins in any of the footage they showed me. I’ll ask them why at the moment, I don’t know. 
 [01:00:56] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Right. Oh, that’s amazing. Well, yeah, say hello to her cuz she’s uh, she’s super awesome. 
 [01:01:01] Tony Myshlayaev: I will. Yeah. She is 
 [01:01:04] Brett Stanley: Tony, thank you so much. This has been really cool, just kind of chatting with you about your work and where you came from and, and your kind of process behind it all. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. 
 [01:01:14] Tony Myshlayaev: Yeah. Thank you, Brett. It’s an honor to speak with you. You’re, you’re a very accomplished photographer yourself, so it’s always refreshing to have a chat. 
 [01:01:23] Brett Stanley: Thank you, man. Appreciate it. 
 [01:01:24] Tony Myshlayaev: Absolutely.

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