Stephen Frink is among the world's most frequently published underwater photographers, and is a Canon Explorer of Light, the only marine specialist within this very elite group of photographers who share their expertise with professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts through education.
He publishes a magazine for Divers Alert Network, Alert Diver, has authored a coffee table book, Wonders of the Reef, and teaches Masters level courses of Stephen Frink School of Underwater Digital Imaging.
Clients for assignment photography over the past 30 years have included Canon, Nikon, Rolex, Victoria's Secret, Aqualung, Oceanic, Scubapro, Subgear, Mercury Marine, Jantzen, Alcan Aluminum, R.J. Reynolds, Seaquest, Henderson Aquatics, Neosport, American Express and Club Med.
Other Frink enterprises include a dive travel company, WaterHouse Tours and Reservations and a stock photo agency, Stephen Frink Collection. Stephen Frink Photographic is the North and South American distributor for the Austrian camera-housing manufacturer SEACAM.
Q & A
What makes the Florida Keys special for photography?
My specialty is underwater marine photography. Clear water and lots of fish make this destination very special; the fish trust that when an underwater photographer approaches the intentions are benign, and in a discipline that requires proximity to do well, this is exceedingly important.
Tell us about your favorite shooting location in the Florida Keys?
I live in Key Largo. Its access is convenient, but the wealth of natural shipwrecks and artificial reefs combines nicely with a well-developed coral reef tract to create a superb backdrop to my underwater images.
Other locations you'd suggest?
We have a fascinating Shipwreck Trail with very meaningful wrecks from Key Largo to Key West. Some of these include the Spiegel Grove, Duane, Eagle, Thunderbolt, Adolphus Bush and Vandenberg wrecks.
What is your favorite time of day to shoot pictures in the Florida Keys? Why?
Submersible strobes add color underwater, even when the daylight is brightest, but I can shoot anytime and find some new behavior or predominant fish species to photograph. Topside, that warm light just before sunset and just after sunrise is magical.
Can travelers shoot decent pictures with a simple point-and-shoot camera in the Keys and what tips can you offer for people with this kind of camera?
Point and shoot cameras (compact cameras) are far more capable today, and can render wonderful digital images. I prefer the cameras that have at least a 28mm equivalent at the wide end, just because our landscapes and seascapes are so compelling.
For serious amateurs, who have digital SLR cameras, what advice can you give them about lens selection (and other equipment) when traveling to the Keys?
I prefer to address the underwater aspect, and to that end an underwater housing and strobes to protect the DSLR is critical gear. If I had to use only 2 lenses to photograph our coral reef ecosystem it would be a wide angle zoom, like my Canon 16-35, and a macro focusing fish portrait lens in the 50-60mm focal length range.
If you could impart only one piece of advice for a traveler shooting photos in the Keys, what would that be?
Allow enough time to learn the underwater world, for time needs to be invested. Of course, you can be lucky and see a whale shark or a manta ray, but the more likely subjects are queen angels or blue-striped grunts. Capture the familiar with artistic skill, and be prepared to react when the unexpected and rare swims by.