A.B. Lee is the owner and manager of Diver’s Den, Redangkalong Resort, where he guides dives and runs photography workshops. A passionate advocate for marine conservation, and a committed underwater photographer – we present him as our Ocean Defender of the Week, and revisit Scuba Diver AUSTRALASIA “Face to Face”, where we caught up with him for a quick Q & A:

Profusions of hard and soft corals are common in the water’s around Redang, Malaysia © A.B. Lee

Profusions of hard and soft corals are common in the water’s around Redang, Malaysia © A.B. Lee

What got you into underwater photography? 
It was about 16 years ago. I had seen the amazing pictures my clients were taking, and the pleasure they got from it. A friend of mine lent me an underwater camera, and at first I had no idea what I was doing. I just taught myself, every month spending more than 1,000 ringgit (US$300) on slide film and batteries. My pictures kept coming out blue! I would call my friend in Kuala Lumpur and he would give me advice… I simply persisted. It paid off. After about a year, I won my first prize for underwater photography!

What are your favourite “face-to-face” encounters and photographic subjects on your home turf?
The corals around Redang are extraordinary. The reefs are just so healthy, and they make for beautiful pictures. I think one of the other highlights of our local sites is the huge, old barracuda that lives at Black Coral Garden. He is almost always there, he has been around for years, and he is very curious.

As a seasoned photographer, what makes a great photo resort, in your opinion?
It is all about the guides. Of course, in most places you can have camera tables and all of that, but what makes a place great for photographers is having guides who know where to find the animals that you want to see and shoot. Great guides also know how to support the photographer, how to advise and spot for them.

So many divers don’t understand the link between what they do and the reefs they love. With beautiful pictures you can inspire people to take care of the precious underwater world. © A.B. Lee

So many divers don’t understand the link between what they do and the reefs they love. With beautiful pictures you can inspire people to take care of the precious underwater world. © A.B. Lee

What drives you to keep shooting? 
The environment. So many divers don’t understand the link between what they do and the reefs they love. With beautiful pictures you can inspire people to take care of the precious underwater world. You can say, “Look! It is so beautiful. We should protect it.”

I’m also incredibly inspired by the colours and shapes underwater, and the fact that you can dive a site thousands of times and you still never know what you’re going to see.