Underwater photographer and free diver Kevin Dodge combines his two passions— photography and diving—and presents unique shots of underwater life. dodgeocean.com

SB: How did you become interested in diving and photography?
I am a third generation native from South Miami and spend a lot of time in the Florida Keys fishing, diving and free diving. My father was a big diver as well; he even dove for treasures on different ships. When I was only two, I would hang on his neck before he would dive. He said that when he would go under I would splash on the surface waiting for him to come back for a breath so I could once again grab and hang on. My true love became free diving spearfishing from a very young age. I earned money as a commercial spearfisherman and continue to spearfish to this day. I went to Florida State where I played baseball and also modeled professionally for many years. In 1994, I switched sides of the camera and began shooting the models that I had worked with for years. Just a few years ago I decided to combine these two talents to produce something very unique, showing the ocean and its inhabitants in a way that has not been seen before.

SB: What inspires your art?
I am inspired by the sheer beauty and rawness of nature but at the same time showing it in a very artful way, through my eyes, which are filled with my love for the ocean. I take advantage of lighting angles, depth of perspective, etc. With my ability to free dive, I’ve been able to mix decades of professional photo experience and am able to capture images in a way few can. As far as holding my breath, I hold it as long as I need to capture that special moment. You have to be ready to shoot with your camera when the time is right…you never get a second chance to get that great shot while swimming in the world of marine creatures.

SB: How does it compare to being a “land” photographer?
I have had the pleasure of working with the world’s top companies: Hyatt Hotels, Bank of America, State Farm, IBM, Ford, Visa, Budweiser, Johnson & Johnson and many others. Shooting people was always much easier as you can communicate with them and you can always reshoot. While shooting underwater you have none of that with fish, especially when some of them are trying to kill you!

SB: What are your favorite spots to create your art?
My favorite spots to shoot are right here in our part of the world. You really don’t need to leave this area of the Florida Keys or Bahamas. With the Caribbean and Yucatán of Mexico, you have all you need right here.

SB: What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Being in control of my time and having the ability to spend time with my children whenever I want. I love the challenge of trying to capture something very special, especially when it’s so hard to get. I also love the danger aspect of it all, such a rush! I always have to be aware of my surroundings, as I am a stranger in their world. The final enjoyment comes from watching others enjoy what you have created, which is by far the best rush of all.

SB: What are your favorite pieces?
The shots that I am most proud of are my swordfish shots because they are so dangerous and very hard to find. They are the meanest animals I have ever seen and most of the time will try to attack me. Recently a swordfish tried to kill me by spearing me in the chest. I grabbed his sword, pushed it down between my legs and grabbed the other end of his sword as it goes into his head and pushed him off after he charged me. I was beyond fortunate and knew I had escaped death. When I finally got into the boat I realized that I had a hole through my shorts right between my legs! I now have these shorts in a box frame and love to see people’s faces when I tell them this incredible story while they stare at the ripped shorts.

By Nathalie Gouillou, Southern Exposure May 2016

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