Q: Tell us a bit about your background?
A: I am from Australia and I have been living in the Cayman Islands for the last 9 years. I have travelled all over the world. I love to dive, I love the ocean and I love to surf.
Q: Where are you based?
A: I live on the beach, therefore I am so lucky to get to go to the beach nearly every day for a swim. As I live in the Caymans, it can get quite windy so I can’t swim everyday.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: Before Covid I was on the boat everyday on the Catamarans, shooting Stingray City snorkel. Since that finished I have diversified and also gone to real estate. The borders have recently opened up though and we have been able to get back to shooting, thankfully.
Q: When and how did you first connect with the ocean?
A: I have always been around the ocean. I have always surfed or swam. I just love being in the water, if I am not in the water for a couple of days it is very unlucky for me.
Q: Where are your favourite places to dive and why?
A: It would definitely have to be the Grand Cayman, the water is so clear. The Bahama’s is another really good place, it is very sharky so I can get a lot of really cool shots and the water there is like crazy blue too.
Q: Many people don’t ever get up close and personal with marine life – can you tell us what experience is like, and what marine animal has a special place in your heart?
A: It is amazing, here we have Stingray City, it is an open sandbar, so there’s no borders or fences. You jump in the water and the stingrays come right up to you, they are really nice. Sometimes they will give you a hickey, like a love bite every now and then, apart from that they are amazing to swim with. I go there as much as I can. I try to shoot sunrise and go out and swim with them at sunrise. It is amazing.
Q: Are there risks with underwater photography?
A: Yeah, there are a million risks. The biggest one is that we free dive a lot. Free diving looks more aesthetic in the pictures instead of having bulky dive gear around you. Also when we free dive we stay about 30 feet upwards, because we want to get the light on you, we don’t shoot flash. We want to get the sun rays, I find sun rays are the best time to shoot. Sunrise or sunset, you get about 10 minutes where the sun comes flying through the water and you get really cool sun rays. So, there is always the risk of drowning. It is hard because you only have so long to get a shot. I will go down and maybe only get 1 shot out of it, because it takes so long to get a nice shot.
Q: How do you feel about the plastic pollution crisis our oceans face? What has your experience been?
A: The plastic, there is a big plastic crisis here. We get a lot of plastic here. Anytime we get a current change, there is so much plastic washed up and nets. Being a small Island in the middle of the Caribbean you would get a lot of that. There is a company here that tries to clean up as much as they can and they get lots of volunteers. I can’t wait until everyone gets rid of single use plastic. Cayman got rid of plastic straws. With the currents coming through you just get loads of plastic and it sucks.
Q: You recently completed an amazing photoshoot for our upcoming OceanЯ collection. How was that and what do you like about the OceanЯ brand?
A: Yeah, it is great working with you guys. My wife and I are both into brands that recycle and are reusable. That was the biggest thing, why I shot with you guys. I mean I love your clothing don’t get me wrong, however, I want to work with sustainability. I am so glad that you are doing it. It is so good you guys are sustainable. Knowing you have removed plastic waste from the oceans and reused it to make something else, instead of ruining the earth – that is the biggest thing. Your brand is amazing and being reusable, that is the cherry on top of the cake right there. Being able to reuse stuff instead of chucking it into the dump is definitely the biggest thing.
Q: Have you ever had to think fast or face challenges while shooting underwater? What has been your most significant experience while shooting underwater?
A: Yeah, I mean we shoot with sharks and stuff like that. You never know the unpredictable, especially if you’re not there shooting with them all the time. Obviously, people in the Bahamas, they shoot with sharks all the time. They know exactly how to act around the sharks and how sharks react but you never know. I have problems with scuba gear, like inflating, trying to take off. I mean underwater there are just a lot of things to look out for. There is way more unpredictability, currents and tides. Nothing too crazy has happened with the underwater shooting. I try to keep everyone safe. I always find out how confident a person is underwater and how much time they have had in the water, what they can do. If they are not that comfortable we just go somewhere shallow and try to get some nice shots.
Q: Do you have a favourite image you have taken so far? What makes it special?
A: My favourite image so far is of my wife on a pile of ropes at the bottom of the ocean. That has been there I think for about 19 years.
Q: Can you tell us about any conservation work you have witnessed or been involved with?
A: We try to pick up plastic, literally every day there is just more and more plastic washing up on the beach. A good little thing I hear is when you’re going to the beach try to pick up 5 pieces of plastic. If everyone stuck to that small little thing, it would make up to be tons of plastic if everybody does it.
Q: Your focus is to shoot people and wildlife together, in order to motivate people to see the beauty in nature and take care of it, especially our fragile marine ecosystem. What sort of shots can you share with us that highlights this? Can you tell us a little about them?
A: I mean, that is the shot right there people and wildlife together, that is a killer shot right there. That is the money shot. It is hard to get two in a good shot. Shooting a person is hard, you hardly get a good shot, because you have the hair, the face, sunlight everything. So to get an animal as well is even crazier. However, when you do, those shots are a million bucks. They are the ones. People normally just shoot animals on their own. I just try to do something different by shooting animals and people together. I try to bring both ecosystems together, because I want to get people interested in our ecosystem. Not that many people know much about our oceans.
Follow Dan on Instagram @danhlegend and to make an enquiry visit his website here.