Featured Photographer: Stefan Follows
Welcome to the fifth edition of the Featured Photographer monthly post. Please meet Stefan Follows, a British Master Scuba Instructor and Tropical Research Diver based in Thailand. His underwater photography is ranging from macro to wide angle images and they are all equally beautiful. When at first time I saw his works at one of social media, I just know there is a passionate photographer behind the images.
Stefan’s artist name is “DiverStef”, he has been diving much longer than me, and he has been involved in marine conservation in South East Asia region. Currently, he works at a Marine Research and Conservation in Thailand, Core Sea. His images shown his passions on marine life and the sea where his “office” located. You will find more about his passions on my interview with him and please don’t miss his important message for us 🙂
Stefan Follows as a Scuba Diver
How long have you been diving? How many logged dives?
My first breath underwater was in 1984 but I’ve been diving professionally since 2003. I stopped logging my dives after 4000 but it’s a little more than that now!
Why do you scuba dive?
It’s my job but mostly my passion and obsession. I’m lucky enough to be able to pay the rent doing the one thing I love. I enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge with a new generation of divers both recreational and scientific. It’s a place I go to rest my mind and a place I go to challenge myself.
Where is your most favorite diving place?
Well, that’s almost impossible to say! What gets me excited the most is to dive anywhere I haven’t been before. I try at least once a year to dive someplace new. New Zealand was the last completely new place and environment and I just found the whole experience amazing. Great wreck diving, walls, reefs, kelp forests, abundant marine life and the breathtaking Poor Knight Islands! Sail Rock in the Gulf of Thailand is my home. I’ve done thousands of dives there and I love knowing every clam and coral almost by name.
Where is your dream diving destination(s)?
Sail Rock in the Gulf of Thailand is my office. I honestly have spent more time here than in my house. On a good day it is a “World Class” dive site and by far the best in the Gulf of Thailand and one of the best in Thailand. I have this gem only 17Km from my doorstep 😉
Have you been diving in your dream diving destination(s)?
Goodness me! There are just so many dreams. I’ve been very lucky and had many encounters with Whale Sharks over the years, which is a dream for many. If I absolutely had to choose my ‘last’ dream dive it would be an extremely remote unspoiled South Pacific reef or a dive with Blue Whales. Both of which are sadly in our time almost improbable.
Stefan Follows as Underwater Photographer
How do you define underwater photography?
The pleasure in the challenge of expressing the wonder, beauty and importance of all things Aquatic.
What is your underwater camera gear?
Olympus OMD EM5, Nauticam NA-EM5 housing, ports for Olympus 12-50mm, 60mm and Panasonic 8mm, 2x Inon D2000 strobes, Inon UCL165 and H2O Tolls +5 x 2 diopters, and various homemade bits and bobs!
Which mode do you use in your camera for scuba diving?
Manual! Always Manual!!
I notice that your subject photography are both macro and wide angle, which one that you like best?
Always with the hard questions 😉 If I had to absolutely choose one for my life it would have to be WIDE!
The Amazing Underwater Life through Stefan Follows Images
I am truly impressed by your image entitled “Squash and a Squeeze” (see opening image), did you have a special story when seeing this whale shark in Thailand?
This is very special to me as I was diving with my sister who I had just trained to dive. I think her sixth dive. A very playful and inquisitive Whale Shark which repeatedly swam straight at us. I had to work very hard to control my own excitement, camera, and sister!!
How about the image entitled “Time to Fly”? I have no idea there is schooling of Barracudas in Thailand, did you expect that before scuba diving?
Sail Rock has many schools of various species of barracuda. It’s just about knowing where to be at the right time with the right settings 😉
Would you like to leave a special message to readers?
This is really hard. There is so much to say. I have seen such a massive decline in diversity and richness in the oceans in my lifetime, the ability to remain positive is a constant struggle.
For sure, if we can’t save the oceans then we are doomed for they are an intrinsic part of us. We treat our planet as a disposable and renewable resource. Beauty and wonder are everywhere but we need to take the time to see it, appreciate it and understand how without it, we will be less than who we are.
My passion, curiosity, and connection to the ocean are owed like so many to one person …
“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me … on that summer’s day when my eyes were opened to the sea.”
. . . Jacques Yves Cousteau
Thank you so much for sharing this important message, Stefan. Beautiful thought and quote. I hope our ocean will stay healthy and more people will aware the importance to protect our ocean and its residents. The ocean is, after all, connecting us and is the heart of our blue planet.
Can’t get enough of Stefan Follows’ Photography?
All images presented here are chosen by Stefan Follows as his favorite images. If you click the image, you will be directed to the large version of the image.
Stefan Follows has been active in presenting his works through the following media: