Monday, December 31, 2001


David Fleetham - Photographer


For David Fleetham, a high school
trip to the Caribbean turns into a
passion for underwater photography

David Fleetham >> It was my last year in High School in Ontario, Canada and I took a Scuba diving course to then join my best friend in the Caribbean for four months. I had no interest up until this point in time in even picking up a camera, but for some reason I was compelled to try and photograph what I would encounter underwater. Finding no ocean on my return to Ontario, I moved to British Columbia, where I worked for several diving businesses on the West Coast and became a Scuba instructor. My off days were spent underwater with my camera trying to capture on film what I could. The first sale of a photograph for me was the cover Canada's only diving magazine.

Spurred on with this success I took up an offer to move to Maui from a friend who had bought into a dive business in Lahaina. I worked there for five years, eventually getting my USCG captains license and continued shooting as much film as I could. I began writing and submitting packages of articles and photographs to dive publications and nature magazines. My library of marine life books grew as I stumbled through pronunciations of Latin species names. I also began travelling to the South Pacific to expand my library of photographs. I remember thinking; "if I could just make this pay I would have the greatest job in the world."

During my time working on dive boats in Lahaina I was contacted by Barbara Brundage of Pacific Stock, a Honolulu based stock agency. I would send her thousands of slides and she would select a few to add to the library of images that Pacific Stock markets. Since then I have managed to acquire several stock photo agencies that now represent my work. Pacific Stock made my favorite sale in 1991. The cover of LIFE magazine.

After twenty-two years of shooting underwater I finally had enough images in the market place to quit being a dive guide/boat captain and concentrate full time on my photography. I continued to shoot not only while travelling, but even more so in the waters around Hawaii. Over time, sharks grew to be one of my favorite subjects and I would spend weeks in exotic locations trying to capture a particular species on film or some strange behavior that had been reported. I developed or was perhaps was born with a patience that is a requirement in my vocation. I spent three years going to Australia to photograph great white sharks, and it was not until the last trip on the third year that I even saw one for the first time.

Lately I have been doing more computer work than diving and now have up and running where clients can search for a specific creature or underwater scene. I still travel several times each year and continue to expand my library of images. Two thoughts come to mind every time on my flight home now. I still think I have the best job in the world, and no mater where I've been I always look forward to coming home to my wife and son, because I live on the most beautiful island in the world.

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