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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Ken Kiefer

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In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Ken Kiefer


Ken Kiefer is an award-winning underwater photographer based out of Houston, TX.  His goal is to create stunning imagery that builds love and wonder for the underwater world.  He does a majority of his work with large predators; sharks, crocodiles, and rays, but also likes to show the beautiful interactions of humans with these often-misunderstood animals.   Ken brings an artistic twist to submerged visions, whether it be oceans, or swimming pools.  He’s proud to be an ambassador for Ikelite Underwater Systems, Sherwood Scuba, Akona and Pulse.

NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

KK: My underwater photography journey started similar to many other underwater photographers, I’m sure.  I had been diving for years and really wasn’t able to use words to describe some of the amazing visuals that could be seen under the water.  I wanted to show images to friends and family to help them understand how amazing this world is and entice as many as possible to join me.

NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?

KK: I’ve always been partial to Canon digital cameras; with my latest being the current favorite.  It’s a Canon R5.  The lenses that I use the most are the 8-15mm fisheye and the 11-24mm.  Before digital, I used a Nikonos 5 and still have it in working order. The rest of my camera equipment is made up of Ikelite equipment.  Housings, Strobes, etc. all from  Ikelite and I have used and loved their gear for many years.  Works great and they have the most amazing service!

NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

KK: My first advice would be to make sure your underwater skills are absolutely flawless before you decide to pick up a camera.  I’ve been on too many dives with people new to diving that try to use a camera to the detriment of their own safety and the health of the reef and others.  After that, the most important advice that I have is to learn your equipment inside and out and use it as much as possible.  Even if it’s practicing in a bathtub, pool or pond – anything to get you familiar with all of the controls and what various lighting and angles can do to an image.  The more scenarios that are practiced, the more ready you will be for quick opportunities and the better you will be able to create the look that you desire.

NRB: What, or who, has been the single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

KK: So many individuals and visual outlets have brought me inspiration and fired up my creativity it wouldn’t be fair to elevate one above the others.   But, truthfully, sharks have been my single biggest inspiration.  Ever since I was little I was first terrified of sharks because of Jaws, and then fascinated by them as I read and learned anything that I could about them.  They are the driving force behind me getting under the sea and I still love learning and creating with them.

NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it your favourite for the photography?

KK: My favorite location is wherever I am as long as there is large animal life and decent visibility!  I really can’t choose a favorite because I love so many amazing places.

NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?

KK: I’m always on the lookout for opportunities.  I have a general idea of what my goals are and shots that I envision, but I don’t let that stop me from quickly adapting and taking advantage of a visual that I hadn’t thought of when it appears.

NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

KK: I love creating.  I love the process of getting ready and coming up with ideas and possibilities.  I love every minute that I’m able to be underwater with people and animals.  And, I really love seeing it all come to fruition when an image is finalized.

NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?

KK: I have a long list of bucket list critters that I want to eventually shoot; orcas/narwhales/humbolt squid/leopard seals/ and many more . . .   but, I also really want to shoot a baby platypus in clear water – I think that would be amazing!!

To see more of Ken’s work follow these links:

Website: https://www.kenkiefer.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenKieferPhotography

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ken_kiefer_underwater/

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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New website: UK Dive Adventures now online!

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The UK and Ireland offer an outstanding variety of diving… being completely surrounded by water has distinct advantages! Yes, the water is a little chilly compared to some more exotic destinations but with the correct equipment and training, there’s a multitude of treasures to explore that you really don’t want to miss.

An incredible 24,000km of coastline… not to mention the large number of inland lakes, quarries and waterways await UK divers wanting to adventure underwater.

UK waters are justifiably renowned for wreck diving and many thousands of years of fascinating history lie under the surface. Scapa Flow off Orkney, Scotland is the pinnacle for wreck divers here and considered one of the top wreck sites worldwide. But there’s a vast range of attractions for those with a lust for rust… and not just seafaring vessels in coastal waters. There’s numerous buses and aircraft to explore at the popular inland sites, and now the world’s first scuba diving escape rooms to experience.

UK and Irish marine life is also incredibly diverse and includes some fascinating and truly magnificent wildlife. From encounters with huge basking sharks and hypnotic blue sharks, to underwater playtime with grey seals, there is so much to see here. Crustaceans of all sizes, seahorses, soft corals, tompot blennies, nudibranchs…. And a myriad of different habitats and underwater topography… crags, rocks, seagrass meadows, swim-throughs, cave systems, sandy plateaus, kelp forests and much, much more to explore. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the joy of diving in the UK and Ireland.

So, welcome to UK Dive Adventures… a fantastic new online resource full of scuba diving news, blogs, travel features and deals, plus outstanding underwater photography exclusively about the dive destinations in all corners of the UK and Ireland; brought to you by the expert Scubaverse Media and Dive Travel Adventures team.

We’ve still got a couple of tweaks to make but we couldn’t wait to share our UK Dive Adventures with you. Drop us a line at contact@scubaverse.com or via our Dive Travel Adventures Facebook and Instagram. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… Guided Dives

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Just passed your Open Water course and not sure what’s next? Of course your diver training will have prepared you for diving out with your buddy, but it’s sometimes a daunting thought. Just like when you passed your driving test… remember that first time behind the wheel when the instructor was not there? I totally get it! 

When I first started diving, ALL of my training was done in quarries. Not that there is anything wrong with quarries… I mean, I own the best one in the world! Only joking, other quarry owners… they’re all good in their own way. But, there is nothing like diving in the sea. The thought of literally jumping into the unknown, a place where you cannot purchase the map at the front desk, or know where you need to go down to see the boat and that resident sturgeon. You have the opportunity to potentially see any of the 170,000 marine creatures that the UK is home to and possibly an area that nobody else in the world has dived. That sense of adventure is what we all, as divers, long for. 

With that in mind, I totally get that the flip side of this is scary: being a brand new diver, or a diver with no sea experience, and that’s fine. We all need a hand to start out somewhere. I was not that lucky; the people that I dived around with, all dived at the same time and place each week, and so when I started up alone, I began exploring the UK waters. Learning what times were the best to dive, what spring and neaps meant, where the best entry and exit points would be… and it took a lot of work to become competent in this type of planning. And still does each year that we check out new sites!

That’s the reason that I have made sure that we keep our theme of small, guided dives. Little Viv is coded for a lot more divers than the 4 that we take, but it’s all about that personal touch of being able to take divers to an area that they are all comfortable with, whether they are new or experienced, and guide them to the best locations to witness North Wales at it’s best. The guided dive aspect is one of the main things I love about our centres and probably always will be. Opening up new sites to divers where they don’t have to feel like it is impossible and giving them a helping hand to witness some of the most stunning sites under the UK waters. That’s what it’s all about.

So, if you haven’t done so yet, and I am not just saying this as an upsell for my own business… Wherever you are in the UK, make sure you put at least 1 sea diving location on your tick list for 2022. You will definitely not want to turn back!


Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Competitions

A very popular liveaboard, Emperor Superior offers fantastic diving in comfortable surroundings. Her experienced crew make this one of the best for divers in the Red Sea.

WAS £1155pp / NOW from just £895 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 25kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox
  • Airport transfers

Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Limited spaces available.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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