James Mamoto is a diver, adventurer, photographer, and friend of Deepblu from Indonesia. His prolific contributions to the underwater photography world inspire, and his love of life is contagious. As an editor here at Deepblu and explorer when away from the desk, I always enjoy seeing his dives and work, and he posts them almost daily, which is quite the treat. With that in mind, I finally got the chance to interview the diver behind the brilliance, and here he is.
Tell us a bit about yourself so our readers can know a little more.
I’m James Mamoto, a native of the Minahasa Highlands, the ocean was the last place I had thought of having career in.
Learning how to swim first, progressing to snorkeling, and then finally becoming a dive guide in a less than a month, I finally got my break to start my career as a dive guide in back 2004. Through the year, after logging hundreds of dives a year while guiding, I become certified Dive Master in 2009.
Without a doubt, 2011 will be the most memorable year for me, in April I won Asian Diver Magazine’s “Best in Class” Individual Award and 5 months later successfully completed the PADI Instructor exam to become a scuba Instructor. I starting taking underwater photos in 2010, since then my images have garnered awards in various photography contests, and I’m also a contributor to Garuda Indonesia’s in-flight magazine as well as a few diving magazines, both local and international. In addition, I was an ADEX speaker in 2016, photo contributor for the BOLSEL underwater book (Discover the Underwater Jewels), and an invited judge in several underwater photo competitions in Indonesia.
What first drew you to the underwater world?
The underwater world gives peace. During the dives, what will be obtained is the serenity and peace that is from the underwater world. The body feels fresh because of the cool water and the eyes are spoiled by the beautiful scenery.
Where are you based?
I’m based In Indonesia, now I stay in Manado, North Sulawesi.
Where are your favorite spots to travel?
How long have you been doing photography on the surface, and when did you bring it to diving?
I started taking photos underwater, and I had no basic photography skills when I started. I have dived with many underwater photographers, so they always share with me what to do.
You have a lot of gear, what’s your best rig? Different tech for different spots and conditions?
At the beginning I learned to use a compact camera, sometimes using DSLR too, but I focus more on using compact cameras, for me they’re easier in operation. You can change macro and wide angle lenses in the water. Sometimes I also use an action camera to take pictures. If you have an underwater camera, try to really master it, and then you will be ready to replace it a more sophisticated camera.
What would your advice be for someone like, say, me, who hasn’t developed an eye for photography?
Enjoying other people’s underwater pictures will be great. You can learn how they get good angles, composition, and maybe the behavior of a shoot, because now on social media there are a lot of underwater photography groups. Photographers always post there and explain how they get the shots. Also if you go to the Deepblu App, they also have underwater photography groups that are always sharing underwater pictures.
Where’s the best food in Indonesia?
I have been to many different places in Indonesia, we have different local foods in each place, and I love them all, I like Indonesian culinary arts.
Thanks for your time! Anything else you’d like to add?
You’re most welcome Todd! Thank you very much to the Deepblu team, Madlen, thanks a lot! For all dear friends, I use the Deepblu COSMIQ+ dive computer. I like it, it’s easy to use, big screen, when I’m doing underwater photography it makes it easier for me to check it, especially when doing night dives. Deepblu COSMIQ+ is always visible, you don’t have to press any buttons.
– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor
As a bonus, here’s one of our favorite pictures of James at work…