Photographer Spotlight - Shaff Naeem
I am excited to introduce my April Underwater Photographer - Shaff Naeem. He is an ex-military diver, dive instructor and award winning Underwater Photographer currently living in Switzerland! You can follow him at @shaff_naeem - Keep reading to find out more about Shaff and his journey with SCUBA & Underwater Photography!
How and why did you get started with photography?
As a child, I was captivated by Jaques Cousteau's underwater documentaries and knew that I wanted to become a diver. When I turned 12, I had the opportunity to try diving at a resort in the Maldives and was hooked from that first experience. Since then, diving has been a passion of mine.
During my time in the military, I was part of a team that was responsible for recovering the bodies of individuals who had died in wrecks or drownings. As part of our duties, we had to document the condition of the bodies when we found them, which involved taking photographs. It was through this strange and somber experience that I discovered my passion for underwater photography.
Tell the community a little about your photography setup!
I own a Nikon D300 and a Nikon D800, which I use with Nauticam housings and Inon Z240 strobes. For macro photography, I prefer the Nikkor 60mm lens, although I sometimes use a 105mm lens as well. I also make use of wet diopters to get the best shots. As for diving gear, I rely on Fourth Element exposure suits and the X Deep Stealth 2.0 Sidemount BC. My dive computer is a Shearwater, and I use Scubapro regulators. The OceanReef Neptune III Fullface mask is a frequent choice for me, and I have two sets of mask and fins that I use regularly: the X Deep Frameless mask and EX1 fins, and the Fourth Element Scout mask and Tech Fins.
It is difficult for me to choose just one favorite Nudibranch, as I enjoy so many different types. However, two that stand out in my mind are the Purple Nudibranch (Chromodoris bullockii) which I have only seen in Bali, Indonesia, and the Dorid Nudibranch (Chromodoris tritos) which can be found in the Maldives. Both of these species are among my favorites.
I have a few reference books on marine life in my library, including "Nudibranchs Encyclopedia" by Neville Coleman, and "Reef Fishes of the Maldives" and "Fishes of the Maldives" by Dr. Charles Anderson and Rudie Kuiter, respectively. These books are particularly useful for learning about nudibranchs and the diverse array of fishes found in the Maldives. Both Coleman, Anderson, and Kuiter are well-regarded experts on marine life and their books are a valuable resource for anyone interested in studying the underwater world.
The Maldives is my top pick for diving destinations, followed closely by Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Another favorite of mine is diving in the mines of Finland. My bucket list for diving destinations consists primarily of caves and mines located around the world.
I have already achieved a lot in the field of underwater photography, with my photos being published in international dive magazines and a published book to my name. I am currently working on updating and republishing this book. As for my diving goals, I am excited to explore the Maldives reefs at depths ranging from 55 to 150 meters.
The key to improvement is practice and experience. Don't be afraid to try new techniques and break the rules of traditional photography in order to capture unique and creative images. Keep an open mind and be willing to experiment in order to improve your diving and photography skills.