Underwater photographer Hani Bader is the man behind “Socotra Cormorant “ – International Wide Angle Runner Up, Underwater Photographer of the Year 2015.
The Bahraini first started diving in 1997 and ventured into underwater photography in 2003. Bader received his first camera, a Sony, from his father and has pursued photography since then. He would go on to use his first DSLR camera and underwater housing in 2010 when he began to put his knowledge of the art into practice.
Browsing the Internet for tips, techniques and information daily, Bader keeps himself up to date with all that is related to photography. He follows and watches blogs, YouTube channels and documentaries of beginner and professional marine fans and experts. Bader also tries to go diving weekly and travel at least twice a year for the purpose of underwater photography.
UW360 Underwater Photographer of the week, Hani takes time off of his daily routine to speak to Oliver Jarvis regarding his passion and beautiful captures.
What made you want to become an underwater photographer?
I was driven to pursue underwater photography based on the experience itself, when you are underwater you feel different, free, and enchanted by the life beneath the surface. I often was unable to share the experience with others through plain talk, and believed that the best way is by capturing the life in a shot and sharing it with the world above. This is how it began and continued to be my life passion and mission.
Your first underwater shot?
This was back in 1998 when I used a film camera which was a gift from my uncle. As I recall I took several shots of a clownfish. This was to be the start of my passion for the underwater world and of photography, and in 2003 I moved to digital underwater photography which strengthened the passion.
The story behind your most memorable underwater shot?
My favourite [shot] is the one captured in my country home (the Kingdom of Bahrain) back in 2014 whilst I was doing a videography about jellyfish masses in the months of May to July. I was lucky to capture a Socotra cormorant feeding on filefish, that were hiding underneath the jellyfish. The bird was smoothly moving from one jellyfish to another.
Watch the video of the mesmerising sight here
Where is your favourite dive destination?
So far [it is] Egypt, however, I am looking forward to visiting many new destinations in the near future.
The site you’d most like to dive, but never have?
My first wish is to visit Raja Ampat in Indonesia, and next is Socorro Island in Mexico.
The weirdest thing you’ve seen underwater?
The weirdest thing was the shot I got when diving to capture the masses of jellyfish, and I was surprised with the presence of the Socotra cormorant feeding on the file fishes. The shoot was unique and received global recognition.
What camera equipment are you currently using?
I am using the following equipment at the moment: NIKON D7000, Sea&Sea Housing and Sea&Sea YS 250pro Strobes.
What is the highlight of your career?
The highlights are mainly when receiving public recognition through winning competitions.
…And the lowpoint?
When I am away from the sea.
Have you any advice that you’d like to give aspiring underwater photographers?
For the underwater photography part I was a self-taught photographer, it was the experience through the trial and error that made me who I am today. I also depended on self-study from books and the internet. However, I highly recommend learning photography prior to moving towards underwater photography, this will save all a lot of time and efforts. And for scuba diving, it is essential to learn in a highly reputable and licensed centre, as your diving experience and knowledge would reflect in your photography. It is also a must to educate yourself about the sea life and its creatures, study their types, norms, and behaviour in addition to general safety guidelines and the “dos” and “don’ts”.
Is there any particular shot that you still want to get?
I would like to take shots of wrecks around the world.