Slide shows can often be a great excuse to catch forty winks after a hard days diving. Kimmo Hagman’s slide show was an exception. For twenty minutes the crowded auditorium was treated to a visual feast of macro and wide-angle splendour. Focus, lighting, subject and composition were exceptional. Slide after slide emanated the Scandinavian’s great talent for underwater photography.
Born in Hanko, a small fishing village on the south coast of Finland. As a child, he would take every opportunity to go snorkelling in the cold, clear, coastal waters. Qualifying as a PADI 0pen water diver in 1986 he quickly progressed to Divemaster and took advantage of the numerous wreck sites in the area by working as a guide for a local dive centre. On becoming an Instructor in 1988 Kimmo moved south to warmer climes and spent a busy season on a resort island in Greece. Replying to an advert in a diving magazine transported him still further south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Maldive archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The tropical Island paradise of Kuredu in the northern Lhaviyani atoll has been home for him ever since and it was here that he has nurtured his great passion for the sea and its inhabitants with the aid of his cameras.
Within a few months of being on Kuredu Kimmo was introduced to photography through a friend and bought a second-hand Nikonos V. Restricted by the 35mm lenses and unable to afford a strobe he started using the dive centres own rental Sea and Sea Motormarine II’s with YS40 strobes. Having produced some encouraging results, but with reaching the limitations of the equipment, he invested in an Austrian manufactured Seacam housing with a Nikon 801s and a Sub-tronic strobe in 1993. With so many top quality housings on the market I asked why he had chosen the Seacam. He explained ‘ I have tried out a variety of different housings over the years but they all feel as though I have my neighbours d**k in my hand ‘, what more can you say!
Some of the shots taken in 1993 were amazing and his work has just got progressively better. Self critical of every photograph Kimmo constantly strives for improvement over the last roll of film exposed. He says ‘My goal is to try and make my best ever photograph every time I look through the viewer’.
The first competition he entered was the Louis Bouton photographic festival in Antibes, France where he came twentieth. Since then, there have been two photographic ‘shoot-outs’ organised by German magazine Tauchen. He won the Wide-angle category on both occasions and came third in the macro. Unbelievably first prize was a holiday for two in the Maldives!
There have been front covers for Asian Diver, Dive style, a South African magazine, Dyk, the Swedish version of Tauchen and numerous travel brochures. Last year he staged an exhibition of his work in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and this summer will see another in his home country, Finland.
Kimmo still works as a full time Diving Instructor on Kuredu. Whenever possible, while acting as a guide or on a rare day off, he will take his cameras with him hoping to capture a special moment on film. He always prepares two cameras. One camera for Macro and the other for Wide-angle, usually with only a single strobe. On average he exposes a hundred rolls of film a year, which equates to a roll of film every three days, and prefers to use Fuji Velvia (50 asa) for Macro and Fuji Provia (100 asa) for wide angle.
Underwater the man from Finland is renowned for being as cool as an iceberg. During a photo dive with sharks an extremely dangerous feeding frenzy developed. All the divers managed to get back on board safely if not extremely shaken. To everyone’s surprise and amazement he calmly commented `There was a slight loss of control for a moment, don’t you think`.
Since buying his first camera in 1992 the Hagman collection has grown to encompass some $20,000 worth of equipment. He now owns two Seacam housings with Nikon 801s SLR`s and is in the process of buying another housing for his Nikon F5. Not forgetting to mention all of the E6 slide and C41 colour negative photographic processing equipment in the darkroom.
For a number of years Kimmo has been running photographic workshops on Kuredu. They are specifically geared to the level of experience and type of camera equipment owned by the photographers in the group. Where else could be better than a palm fringed tropical Island for a weeklong course covering both theory, in an air conditioned classroom, and practical, in clear, warm, blue seas. The group is guided through the whole process, from camera maintenance, preparation and picture composition to processing and enlarging.
Initial inspirations came from Skin Diver Magazine and his colleagues. Now visiting photographers to Kuredu are inspired by Kimmo`s own slide show held on the island once every two weeks. Asked whether there is a book in the making he replies ‘ maybe if I could only find a publisher’. I somehow think a few offers will soon be coming his way. This won’t be the last time you see the name Kimmo Hagman.
For Information on courses etc.
Kimmo Hagman, U/W Photographer,
Tel +960 23 0343 Fax +960 23 0344