It all started way back in 2004. My wife and I were living in Rapid City, SD, a long ways from the sea. Out of the blue Aimee received a call from Curacao "an island we had never heard of " asking if she wanted to come down and work with dolphins which she had already done for most of her life. We had just bought a home, life was good but after that one little call all would change. I can still remember the look on her face after hanging up the phone and me asking "who was that"? She said, I just got offered a job in Curacao working with dolphins again and after very little thought or time I said, "you gotta go"! So like the Beverly Hillbillies we loaded up the storage units, sold the house, sold the cars, packed what we could, grabbed our dalmatian puppy Inca and off we went to an island in the Caribbean.
Before I left I did some research and ordered my first IKELITE/nikon D-100 underwater housing and 2-DS-125 sub-strobes it was a thing of beauty even though I had no idea how to use it.
Upon our arrival it was love at first sight, other than the insane humidity and heat, I think we were both in the water within hours of landing, including our dog Inca. Aimee started work at the Dolphin Academy located at the Curacao Sea Aquarium almost immediately I on the other hand didn't have a job and proceeded to learn how to use my new IKELITE underwater system day and night. Thankfully there was a man named Gordy Cox who was an old time IKELITE user/diver/photographer who befriended me immediately and helped me with finding the necessary settings for my new housing, he was a big help even though to this day he claims he didn't do much. So while Aimee worked everyday with dolphins, I dove and dove and dove, I was completely addicted! After about a year the Dolphin Academy discovered I could take pictures and hired me as the photoshop manager, so life just seemed to be getting better and better and now I was in the water taking photos of dolphins which was a major bonus for me.
When I wasn't diving I built single-track mtb trails "by hand' all over the island. When we arrived there was only one trail to hike on from the Sea Aquarium to Zanzibar which got boring real fast. The trails turned out to be a big hit with the locals although no one other than my friend Stijn ever wanted to help work on them. I spent countless hours out in the bush/jungle/desert each day with my faithful dog Inca who was the best dog a man could have, I even named the first one mile section of trail after her. The trails became such a big hit that in 2006 they were used for the UCI MTB World Cup and our friend and World Champion Bart Brentjens was that years winner with Julien Absalon coming in second.
In 2010 I left the Dolphin Academy and went to work for a new company called Substation Curacao which was also located at the Sea Aquarium where Aimee works. The owner and builder of the Sea Aquarium Dutch Scrier, had purchased a 2.5 million dollar custom made submersible from a company in Canada called Nuytco. This 5 person submersible was capable of going to depths of 1000 feet and came equipped with a robotic arm, vacuum system and collecting basket which immediately turned this thing into a scientists dream machine. This is how I first met Carole Baldwin and other top marine biologists from the world famous Smithsonian Institution. My main job at Substation was to dive with the submersible to 50-100 feet each day and take photos of whoever was in the sub headed down to the abyss, upon their return I would have their underwater photos ready for them to take home on a flash drive, it was a major hit. Once the Smithsonian showed up usually a few times a year, they were renting the submersible in search of new species from the 200-1000 foot zone and I was the lucky person who got to photograph their incredible findings which you can see here on the site. The Smithsonian group and Substation Curacao discovered everything from new species of fish to all kinds of beautiful invertebrates, you never knew what was going to be found. In order to explore new areas Dutch the owner and operator purchased a used research vessel from South America and brought it to Curacao where he spent the next few year completely overhauling it turning it into a world class vessel and could now carry his submersible anywhere. Our first trip was to Klien Curacao then Bonaire the following year, then off to Dominica and our last trip was to Saint Eustatius all in the Caribbean.
The rest is more or less history, over the next 14 years I went from my first nikon D-100, to the D-200, 300, 300s, 90s, 500, 600, 800 and 810 "which I currently still have" and each time I switched cameras I had to get a new IKELITE housing. From the start IKELITE was 100% there for me, the customer service was and still is off the charts! I was always needing something and my buddy Mike Rabideau was always there to help, I owe him so much for all the years of assistance. At some point in our relationship I started taking promotional photos and testing equipment for IKELITE and in turn I became one of their many ambassadors which was an honor from the start and still is. Lets face it when you have great equipment it's much easier to get more amazing photos, using the two IKELITE sub-strobes is for sure one of the key ingredients, the light produced by these strobes is unequalled whether you are using it for TTL or on manual they will not let you down. When I arrived on the island I think I only had 32 dives under my belt "originally certified in San Carlos, Mexico" and I left with over 6000 and hundreds of thousands of underwater and topside images I still haven't even looked at.
Many of my photos can can be found on GETTY images under WILDHORIZONS if you looking for something specific let me know and we start digging.