In this new section in our blog, we will feature our amazing Mozaik ambassadors so that you can get to know them better and learn about their fascinating lives.
The ambassador of this month is Khaled Zaki!
PADI Ambassador & Master Instructor , Diving Consultant. He’s passionate about diving and marine conservation and spreads his message through award winning underwater photography and videography, most recently a collection of his photos were chosen to be on the official Qatar postal stamps.
Khaled was first introduced to diving when he went on holiday to Sharm El Sheikh in 1990 . After a 30 minute introduction dive Khaled, had knew that he had found his passion and began to work his way through the PADI syllabus eventually working in Sharm El Sheikh as a PADI Pro.
With 25 years of experience working in the diving industry in the Middle East and Egypt Khaled has a lot of experience under his weight belt, certifying thousands of divers over the last two decades! He has also produced a variety of marine documentary films with networks such as BBC network, Qatar TV and Alrayan Chanel. Alongside this Khaled is a prolific writer focusing his work on diving, tourism and environmental issues.
Khaled, tell us a bit about how you became a diver?
Growing up by the Mediterranean I went swimming / snorkeling on a daily basis. This is how the relationship started between me, the Ocean and marine life .
Back in 1990, I went to the Red Sea – Sharm El Shaikh for a 2 weeks holiday where I did an intro dive for about 30 minute. I completely fell in love with the sport and all I wanted was to do this again and again. I enrolled in the next PADI course and did my Open Water followed by the Advanced, Rescue and then PADI Dive Master. I was totally inspired by the Red Sea & lifestyle away from big city.
I was also lucky to be in the Red Sea’s world class diving spot Sharm El Shaikh during the Golden era of the early 90s, surrounded by top notch diving professionals and learning from the old school generation everything I could about the recreational diving industry and marine life.
I have participated in building, designing and operating many prestigious diving centers and diving boats and currently am still doing so by promoting and supporting divers, dive centers, boats and resorts in the Middle and the far East, through educational UW photography classes, workshops and programs to increase and promote diving with a goal to expand the dive business and dive traffic in several new locations world wide.
How did you get into underwater photography?
I was very lucky to be a diver, meeting new people every day and helping them to make their dream come true so they can enjoy diving.
I like nature photography since I was doing a lot of Safaris in the western desert Oasis and Sinai, so when I started diving as a career it triggered the old passion with photography and at the same time really helped me enjoy my new love for diving. Diving and photography were working together to show people the underwater magic, rather than having a typical kind of job like many others.
So I started with a simple waterproof case for my Minolta camera, which worked only down to 3 meter deep. Then I borrowed a Sea & Sea motor marine II from a friend, after than I started to think about buying a camera. In the good old days it really wasn’t easy to take photos and see the result right away like digital cameras today. I used to take 36 photo film on every dive then drive for about 100KM with my motorbike to develop in Kodak in al Tur city!
Eventually I started to upgrade slowly switching to videography and uw filming, often using the footage for promoting diving and other marine environments.
What’s your most memorable dive?
Every dive is a special dive, it is the freedom of motion, silent, and inner peace. I always say diving is not only what you see, it is what you feel.
That’s why many people are diving in very cold water with nothing to see and still enjoying their dives.
One of my most unbelievable dives was in Ras Mohamed Sharm El Shaikh during shark mating season with hundreds of sharks swimming around. I can feel my heart beat for the first time seeing sharks in 1990.
Also my last most amazing dive was in Thailand where I spotted a giant grouper with a Jackfish in his mouth for breakfast. We stared at each other for 30 seconds! I was lucky to have the camera setup and flash ready for several amazing shots before I switched to video and took a short clip. Once back to the surface I was screaming as I knew that this photo will be very special. Indeed one of those photos really made 3 years first place and Golden medal in several UWP contest and tournaments.
Which gear do you currently use?
Currently I am using a Canon 5D Mark 4 with a 100mm and 16-35mm lens, Nauticam Housing, Sea And Sea YS-D2 and YSD1 strobes with a Sola 4000 video light.
Recently I upgraded to a Canon 1D Mark 2 and a Nauticam housing that I am still practicing on. In addition I have a Canon 5D Mark 3 in a Nauticam housing, as well as a small Panasonic LX100 in Nauticam for back up and teaching.
I won’t list all the accessories I have which includes a long list of magnifiers, snoots, filters, diopters etc.
I also use GoPro cameras and Mavic Pro drones, mostly for landbased photography and videography.
Message to the World
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to dive and enjoy being close to Dolphins, Mantas, Turtles and Sharks. I really wish that my little daughters will be able to see, swim or dive with some of those great marine creatures that unfortunately are starting to vanish from the ocean due to many improper, unnecessary behavior from some humans.
I wish to see more and more activities taking care of the ocean. People, groups, private businesses, local authorities along with international organizations need to work together to encourage more public awareness programs and educate more individuals to pass the message to everyone. I am sure that every little effort we do makes a big difference.
I can surely say that UW photography plays an important part in showing people – divers and non divers, the beauty of our ocean and how fragile it is. It needs to be protected and through visual, international programs I’m sure we can make a difference. Every little effort makes a huge impact.
Visit his personal portfolio at www.ranmorphoto.com.
Latest posts by Ran Mor (see all)
- 5 Absolutely Crucial Things You Must Know Before Starting Out With Underwater Photography – July 7, 2020
- The Ultimate Guide to Shooting Marine Life Underwater – July 1, 2020
- Testing the Kraken KR-S02 Strobe – June 19, 2020