Shark Week: Meet Photographer Ken Kiefer
Ken has always been in or near the water. Growing up surfing in Corpus Christi, TX started his love of the water and nature. And a transition to lifeguard seemed natural once he turned 15. He got his first breath of compressed air while lifeguarding and was immediately hooked on scuba diving. He went straight through the hierarchy of levels until he became a PADI instructor in 1995. But, teaching wasn’t his true love, it was enjoying the underwater world. He wanted to show his non-diving friends and family the magical world that he was experiencing so he started experimenting with underwater photo and video. We are thrilled to have Ken on our media team!!
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
Great Hammerhead Sharks have currently edged out the Oceanic Whitetip as my favorite. Their agility and sleek muscular shape, combined with the variety of angles they present for images helps keep them at the top of my book. I do keep a running competition going in case any of the other species are ready to present their case.
2. What is one shark you would like to photograph?
I’ve seen a Mako shooting by in a blur twice. I really would love to spend some close-up time with these beautiful underwater missiles. Their coloring, shape and speed have always intrigued me.
3. How did you get started shark diving? What was the first species you went diving with?
I’ve been diving for years and years, and had encountered Caribbean reef, blacktip and nurse sharks many times over the years. But, the first specific shark dive that I took a trip for was the Tiger Shark. I fell in love as my vision became full of huge tigers, bundles of lemons and more reefies than I could count.
4. Do you believe photos and videos are powerful for conservation?
I absolutely believe that photos and images are a powerful tool to help in the conservation fight. Humans are very visual, and any time you can demonstrate a point with video or a picture, it will make the message immeasurably more impactful and memorable. I think the a variety of combinations of facts, pictures, videos and even interactive multimedia are ways to get the info to people who’s attention or triggers may differ.
Ken photographing a great hammerhead Credit: Jillian Morris
5. What is the coolest/most interesting thing you've seen while diving with sharks?
That’s a tough one, because almost everything I see with sharks is super cool/interesting to me!! One of my favorite things that can happen every once in awhile, and has happened with a variety of species is the moment that one of these wild sharks comes in close to me and we have a moment eye to eye where I feel like we understand and tolerate one another. It really gives me an unforgettable feeling that I wish I could share with others to help them understand.
6. What is the most challenging thing about photographing sharks
Recently, weather patterns have created a lot of difficulties making it out to and finding sharks. As far as difficulties actually taking images, my biggest challenge is remaining patient at all times. Staying relaxed and watching for any patterns of behavior that you can utilize to work with the lighting situation and background to create the images that excite you.