The Deepblu Diver Spotlight highlights a new Deepblu Diver every two weeks. This week we have our sights on Brett Lobwein, who has an impressive track record traveling the world with his camera.
You’ve been all over the world diving and taking photos, which came first?
I have always had a travel bug and had managed to dive in quite a few overseas locations prior to really taking up underwater photography seriously. Some of those locations included Thailand, Turkey, Maldives just to name a few. Taking up photography just increased the amount of places I get to travel and opened up opportunities not usually open to everyone.
For example, I was lucky enough in 2015 to be part of Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition (which set out to raise awareness about environmental issues by capturing the most awe-inspiring and stunning visual interpretation ever seen of the Arctic, red).
It was a real privilege to witness and capture first-hand what is happening in the Arctic. Another thing that made that project so special was the other members of the team, including Michael Aw, David Doublet, Jennifer Hayes, Dr Sylvia Earle just to name a few!
When did you decide to go professional?
I wouldn’t say that I ever 'decided', it takes quite a bit of time to build the business of photography and it is continuously evolving. For me at the moment I am balancing a corporate life and a photography life plus numerous other projects. For example, I have launched with my partner Sarah-Jo Lobwein a distribution business focused on underwater photography equipment, such as Isotta housings. My wife and I are also working on another 'project' that we hope to launch into the Australian dive market very soon (watch this space).
What’s the most rewarding thing about the craft of underwater photography?
The biggest reward is when non-divers come up to me and comment on my images. My shark and crocodile photographs really seem to spur most of the talk, especially in Australia at the moment with all the 'shark activities' happening. Like most underwater photographers, my main goal is to capture the beauty of the ocean and all the things and beings that call it home.
But I also hope to expose this to people who don't have the chance to experience its beauty. People tend to only care about things they understand or have a connection with, and images are a very powerful tool to establish such understanding and connection.
You’re also a rescue diver if I recall correctly. For our readers, what’s that like?
Correct, it has been a number of years since I did my PADI Rescue course in Sydney. Of all the dive training I have done this was one of the most challenging and rewarding I have done. During my time working in the dive industry, I have been able to leverage these skills a number of times. It is something that I can’t recommend highly enough. If you are serious about diving and starting to spend more time underwater, there is going to be a time when you will need these skills.
Where are the best spots to dive in Australia?
This is a really hard question as Australia has some of the most diverse diving on this blue planet, but let me try to name a few... My Sydney backyard has some amazing life, such as the Weedy Sea Dragon (Phyllopteryx Taeniolatus) off Kurnell National Park. Then there's diving with the Grey Nurse Sharks of Broughton Island, very-early-morning squid diving off the southern New South Wales coast, swimming and diving with fur seals off Montague Island, swimming with dolphins in the lagoon of Cocos Keeling Islands off Western Australia, manta rays right off the beach at Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef, and coming face to face with Great Whites off Neptune Islands in South Australia. A little bonus if you ever do this trip: make sure you head to Hopkins Island where they have some of the friendliest sea lions you will ever meet.
How often do you get back to Tonga, where you started your photography career?
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to return to Tonga, however this is very high on my priority list! As this was very early in my exposure to underwater photography with a DSLR, I didn’t really have all the skills and knowledge to capture an image I was happy with, so there is extra motivation to return and capture that 'perfect' shot. Tonga is an amazing place especially during winter when the humpback whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) swim in to use Tonga as their nursery. It should be on every diver's or snorkeler's bucket list.
What keeps diving fresh for you? How often do you try something new?
The great thing about underwater photography is that there is always something different to try. It could apply a different lighting technique or choose a different perspective or angle with a subject that I have photographed a thousand times, or I could try to capture a creature's unique behavior such as feeding or breeding.