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Underwater Photographer Highlight: Su Eun Kim

South Korean tekkie Su Eun Kim says that her passion for underwater photography has pushed her to expand her diving horizons. “I take photos because I want to share my experiences with other divers, and inspire them to go diving more often and to try new environments.” Her favorite places to make pictures are underwater caves.

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South Korean tekkie and explorer Su Eun Kim is an extraordinary underwater photographer.  As the owner of Tech Korea, Kim holds 36 certifications in everything from cylinder cleaning to cave diving to being an instructor trainer for several agencies. While she has never been into photography on land (she just takes photos on her smartphone while dry), she has been taking underwater images since 2011.  She says photography is what pushes her to learn different forms of diving and explore new aquatic environments.

“The reason why I take underwater photos is because I want to share my experiences with other divers,” Kim said. “I want to show people who have never seen it how beautiful the underwater environment is, how fun and cool diving is, and to inspire other divers to go diving more often and to try new environments, such as cave diving.”

For her, the courage to learn new forms of diving, such as becoming a cave diver or joining exploration projects, has stemmed from her passion for underwater photography.  She has been an expedition photographer during several projects, including two different Project Baseline missions and several cave exploration projects.

“I have a lot of respect for underwater explorers who also take wonderful photos. Two of these are Kirill Egorov and Ali Perkins. Both are great explorers in both the ocean and cave environments, and they also take amazing photos. They have so much passion for diving itself, and that inspires me.”

Kim’s favorite places to photograph are caves. But, she says the hardest part of her underwater photography is traveling with all of the camera equipment (that’s a lot of baggage!). Kim’s plan is to never stop learning and improving her underwater photography skills.  To see more of Su Eun Kim’s photography follow her on Facebook.


Su Eun Kim is the owner of Tech Korea. She is a JJ CCR diver and instructor, exploration diver, and underwater photographer. She loves all underwater environments but is especially drawn to caves. She has been a part of multiple cave exploration/research projects.


Art

MER

Creative director and photographer Brenda Stumpf conjures up a crush of living, breathing mermaids and monsters that dwell deep within our collective unconscious.

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“Working at depth is a particular challenge with models and I was fortunate to have a fantastic crew and a subject who was not afraid to dive deep.” 

“Shooting in closed environments allows for more exploration in costuming and effects that might become too dangerous in the open water.  In this shot, with the help of a fantastic hair and makeup crew, we were able to create an underwater ‘ivy jungle’ that our model could interact with to create an image that is filled with movement.”

“California diving is extraordinary, but it is also difficult – cold, and often hampered with poor visibility.  On this day, we struck gold… late summer, water about as warm as it would get in the upper 60’s and visibility around 50 feet.   Under these conditions, Mermaid Virginia was a rockstar… and managed to perform effortlessly for more than double the usual time you would expect from a model under cold water conditions.”

 

“While not underwater, this is one of my favorite images.  The visibility that day was pure green soup out at the island – maybe 2 or 3 feet… so we improvised and pivoted our plan to do some shoreline images.  Paul became the pirate who finds Mermaid Virginia – washed ashore. The look on his face and the commitment to the story that they both provided – makes this image complete magic to me.”

“The sequences we shot in Mexico are some of my favorites… and this image rises to the top.  I wanted to portray the duality of the beautiful mermaid who is really a monster in disguise.  Above the water, she is beautiful and intriguing, and under the surface, she is all murder and terror.  Mermaid Jessica was able to pull this one due to her extraordinary presence and incredible costuming skills.  As a bonus, we had a few little fish that kept popping into the shots – that I think really added to the overall effect.”

“Nestled deep in the mangroves of the cenotes of the Yucatan, we found a spot that became the perfect ‘lair’ for our siren/monster mermaid.”  

“Another beautiful day on Catalina Island.  If you depart from the dive park, and explore around the island a little… you can find amazing locations at shallow depth, but with a ton of structure and beauty.”  

 

“This was such a fantastic moment.  Mermaid Linnea is a natural talent underwater, and so calm that all the garibaldi came in to check her out.”  

“Nestled into an underwater cave, this sweet mermaid glances out into the world above.  Mermaid Elisa brought this creature to life and is an extraordinary underwater talent.  She was able to work the rather difficult costuming with ease.”

“A little behind the scenes captured while we were on location for two weeks shooting in multiple locations throughout the Yucatan peninsula.  Best crew, and best models, best team.”  

-BRENDA STUMPF



Photo Details:

Header Image Credits: Location: Simi Valley, CA Model: Traci Hines Safety Diver: Virginia Hankins. “Mermaid Traci was an absolute delight to work with.  This was her first underwater mermaid photoshoot and I’m thrilled at how well it came out. “

Alissa Photo Credits; Location: Roatan, Honduras; Model: Alissa Quon; Safety Diver: Virginia Hankins

Virginia Photo Credits: Image 1; Location: Simi Valley, CA; Model: Virginia Hankins; Hair/makeup: Chrystina Yu Makeup & Natasha Johnson; Image 2; Location: Catalina Island, CA; Model: Virginia Hankins; Safety Diver: Jon Council; Image 3; Location: Catalina Island, CA; Models: Virginia Hankins, Paul Suda; Safety: Mike Varga

Jessica Photo Credits: Image 1; Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Model: Jessica Dru Johnson; Safety Diver: Mike Varga; Image 2; Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Model: Jessica Dru Johnson; Safety: Mike Varga

Linnea Photo Credits: Image 1; Location: Catalina Island, CA; Model: Linnea Snyderman; Safety: Jon Council; Image 2; Location: Catalina Island, CA; Model: Linnea Snyderman; Safety: Jon Council

Elisa Photo Credits: Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Model: Elisa Buller; Safety: Mike Varga

Virginia & Jessica Photo Credits: Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Models: Virginia Hankins, Jessica Dru Johnson; Safety: Mike Varga


Brenda Stumpf has been diving and making photos for the past 12 years in both closed and open water environments.  She specializes in fine art and portraiture and can be found passport in hand, ready to head out to another great adventure. You can find more on her website: Brenda Stumpf. For more mermaids, check out her book: The Mermaid Project.

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