Meet the event planner who won S.E.A. Aquarium Society’s Dive Photography Contest

Ryan Koh is a professional event planner, and a full-time dive and photography enthusiast. His ethereal picture of a pregnant shrimp came in first at the recent S.E.A. Aquarium Society’s Dive Photography Contest.

We got in touch with Ryan who shared with us the story behind his winning photograph, and what inspired him to pick up scuba diving.

1. Tell us the story behind your winning photograph.

I chanced upon this Dive Photography Competition on Facebook. I thought I’d just share a few photos of my own so I really wasn’t expecting to win.

This photo was taken in Mactan Cebu, Philippines. We were drifting along a light current when I spotted an anemone with these shrimps on it. I swam over and took a few shots of this shrimp from different angles. I only realised that the shrimp had eggs in its pouch when I reviewed the photo after the dive. From this particular angle, it looked as if it was praying for a smooth delivery.

Dive photography is fun but it can be challenging because we can’t control the subject. We can only shoot them in their natural state.

2. How did you pick up scuba diving and photography?

I picked up scuba diving about 10 years ago after a beach vacation at Pulau Redang in Malaysia. I went snorkeling with friends and was very taken by the beautiful marine life I saw. That got me really interested to explore the ocean further. And what better way to do that than scuba diving.

Just sitting and chilling (Mactan, Cebu)

A few dive trips later, I picked up photography. Most divers know the motto of “Leave nothing but bubbles, take nothing but photos” So the best way to remember and share the beauty of the ocean is through our lenses.

3. What intrigues you about the marine world?

Everything. Every dive is a learning opportunity because no two dives are the same. There will always be something new to discover.

A curious Sea Hare looking right into the camera (Bali, Indonesia)

4. Where’s your dream dive destination?

Currently I look forward to diving in Lembeh, Indonesia. Friends who have been there call it a photographer’s heaven as there are many critters to photograph, so that’s somewhere I intend to visit. But if you’re asking about my bucket list, it will have to be the Galapagos in Ecuador. It is shark haven and I believe it is every diver’s dream to swim amongst these majestic creatures.

5. What’s your favourite marine animal to photograph?

The octopus. They are one of the top masters of disguise, making them very challenging and interesting to find and photograph.

Master of disguise: an octopus camouflaging itself in the reef of Maldives

6. Any tips to share with budding dive photographers?

Take it slow and enjoy the process. Be patient and be prepared to wait for the perfect shot. If you stay still long enough, the subject will be curious enough to approach you instead.

Ryan having some fun while doing safety stop in Maldives.

Thank you Ryan and congratulations on your win.

All photographs courtesy of Ryan Koh.
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