Mike Veitch is what we all think of when someone says Underwater Photo Pro. In this interview the award winning photographer tells us more about how he went from an instructor to running the only full-time underwater photography school in Bali.
Interview with Mike Veitch
by Hergen Spalink
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED TAKING UNDERWATER PHOTOS/VIDEO?
I became a dive instructor in 1998 and have been working full time in the dive industry ever since. In 1999 I started on the Palau Aggressor and that’s where I first learned about underwater photography by asking lots of questions and devouring all of Jim Church’s seminal books. I was given the titleof Photo Pro on the boat after gaining a whole 36 exposures worth of experience! It didn’t take me long to improve my skills as I was in the water with a camera every day. Within a year I had written my first underwater photography course outline to begin teaching guests. I left Palau in 2002 and then did two years aboard the Tahiti Aggressor before joining the Manta Ray Bay Hotel in Yap as the Photo & Video Pro in 2004. In Yap I was able to learn the art of digital photography while also shooting daily video of the amazing resident manta rays. In 2007 I moved to Indonesia where I have managed a variety of liveaboards and resorts throughout the country. I’ve lived in Bali full time since 2012 when I started the Underwater Tribe.
WHAT GEAR HAVE YOU USED IN THE PAST?
I started my underwater photography career with the Nikonos V system which I used from 1999 to 2004 along with a Nikon N90 SLR. In 2004 I moved to digital with the Nikon D70 and have since continued with the cropped sensor system, adding the D90 and D7000. My past video rigs started with the Sony PC100, the Sony TRV 950, and the Sony Z1U.
WHAT SYSTEM ARE YOU USING NOW? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
My current systems are the D7200 in a Nauticam housing along with the Sony A7S2. I love the balance of my Nauticam D7200 underwater and the ease of reaching all of the controls. Underwater, the Sony A7S2 is a delight in how small and easy to handle the Nauticam system is. The incredible Nauticam Wet Wide Angle WWL-1 adaptor combined with the Sony 28mm lens is incredibly sharp. The fact that I can take off the WWL-1 and have a 28mm option offers the flexibility of a compact camera system but with incredible full frame resolution and 4K video performance.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE KINDS OF DIVING YOU DO, FAVORITE LOCATIONS, ETC
Living and working in Indonesia, I am lucky enough to dive fantastic reefs and incredible critter locations all year. I must say I am more geared toward Wide Angle photography and I am a sucker for diving with mantas. I try to spend as much time as I can diving in Raja Ampat but anywhere underwater in Indonesia is a treat. Based in Bali, I have manta rays and world class macro photography diving at my doorstep!
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE UNDERWATER TRIBE?
My company The Underwater Tribe is the only full time professional underwater photography school in Bali. We offer one-on-one photo tuition all year long in Bali, possibly the finest classroom in the world. We have an on location Photo Workshop taking place at NAD-Lembeh Resort in July/August 2017.
MORE ABOUT MIKE
Mike is a Canadian national who has been living in the Indo-Pacific region since the late 90s. Starting his full time diving life in Palau in 1999, Mike has since worked in Fiji, Tahiti, Yap, and Indonesia with many travels in between. Mike is a well known underwater photographer who regularly contributes to many international magazines with his photography and writing. Mike won the “World in Our Hands” category of the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards in 2013. With a passion for teaching others the art of underwater photography, Mike is one of the co-founders of the Underwater Tribe, a boutique dive company based in Bali. Mike uses Nauticam housings, Sea and Sea strobes, and FIX Neo lights for all of his imaging needs.