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Underwater Photographer Spotlight: Kimberly Jeffries

By Scuba Diving Partner | Updated On August 25, 2023
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Underwater Photographer Spotlight: Kimberly Jeffries

Kimberly Jeffries is based out of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. She owns a small pack of wild huskies and enjoys long dives underwater.

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Tiger Shark in Kona, Hawaii

Tiger Shark and CCR diver, Kona Hawaii

Kimberly Jeffries

Behind the Shot
I shot this image during the Kona Underwater Shootout in Hawaii last May. I’d never participated in a contest like that before and I had originally planned to hit multiple sites to get a large variety of images. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I hit a site that tiger sharks are known to pass through first. I caught a glimpse of my first tiger shark and ended up addicted. I spent 8 hours in the water at the same spot, interested in nothing else but more glimpses of these beautiful animals. We saw a total of five distinct females. We believe this particular female was pregnant which is quite heartwarming when you see the poor condition of many of them.

Q: How long have you been a scuba diver/what’s your certification level?
A: I’ve been a water baby most of my life, but didn’t get officially certified until maybe seven years ago when I stopped surfing. I went on to get my PADI MSDT, then crossed over to IANTD for CCR Trimix on rEvo, which is the unit I'm currently working towards my instructor rating on. I’m currently a PFI level 1 free diver but I’d like to get my level 2 soon. I also have my 50 ton rating.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, Hanauma Bay Oahu Hawaii

Kimberly Jeffries

Q: How long have you been an underwater photographer, and how did you get started?
A: Well, for the longest time I ran around having fun with a GoPro. In August 2016, a friend invited me on a trip to the Galapagos for the following year. I decided I couldn’t wait a year, and booked a ticket for October. I also immediately wanted to get a nicer camera so I could get really good photos of the marine life I would see on my trip. All my friends told me to be practical and not buy a full frame camera. When the camera arrived I had no idea what to do with it, which is when I remembered that getting good pictures isn’t just about having a nice camera. So I spent a lot of time in the water in the next couple of weeks before my trip, and committed to having the camera with me on every dive. I was honestly surprised by how well the pictures from the trip turned out, so I’ve kept my camera with me.

Tell us about your camera rig
Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV
Housing: Subal
Lens(es): Canon 8-15mm fisheye and I just got a 100mm!
Lights/Strobes: Sea&Sea YS-D2

scuba diving through your lens photo contest

Jeffries took home second-place in the Conceptual category of Scuba Diving magazines 2017 Through Your Lens photo contest with this photo.

Kimberly Jeffries

Q: Do you prefer to shoot on scuba or freediving?
A: Neither! I love CCR, open circuit has it’s own fun perks and nothing compares to the freedom of freediving. A lot of people in each sport tend to look down on the other methods. I prefer to embrace them all. They’re all pretty different, and the results can reflect this.

Q: What is your favorite photo-sharing platform?
A: Instagram! It’s a really great way to expand beyond your personal friend circle. I love looking at everyones photos and reading the stories behind them. Sometimes even the places I choose to travel to are inspired by pictures I see on Instagram.
Follow Jeffries on Instagram

Hawaiian Day Octopus

Hawaiian Day Octopus, Oahu Hawaii

Kimberly Jeffries

Q: What are three of your favorite social-media accounts to follow?
A: Oh, this is hard. I could sit on social media and lurk all day.
• @Cristinamittermeier - Her photography is so strong and how can you not admire someone so dedicated to protecting the ocean.
• @paulnicklen - His work is really just so clean and ridiculously important.
• @natgeoyourshot - I love seeing the work of newer photographers, with fresh ideas, and they do a wonderful job of aggregating an amazing selection of photographs, as well as advice and commentary on what they liked about photos.

Q: What hashtag best describes your underwater photography style?


Q: What or who inspires you?
A: I’m inspired by conservationists who are doing really necessary work, like the Exposure Labs crew I got to know during the filming of Chasing Coral here on Oahu. They were all so passionate and are working to send an important message in a meaningful way, because not everyone is able to see what’s happening to our coral reefs and our oceans.

In terms of photographic skill, I really enjoy work from Brian Skerry - His photography is unreal. All of his shots are larger than life to me. I can’t even imagine how many hours he logs in the water. He captures the action and brings the excitement of the moment to a still photo.

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Darwin's Arch Galapagos

Kimberly Jeffries

Q: What do you love most about your work?
A: The ability to show people what’s out there that’s worth protecting. These animals, these underwater scenes and dive sites are the reasons we should give up single-use everything and try desperately to reverse our negative impact on the environment.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge and/or your most rewarding moment?
A: My most rewarding moments with underwater photography have always been less about the photography part and more about the underwater part. When I go diving with my friends and we pick off whatever fishing line or trash we find on the reef, I feel most rewarded. My photography is really a by-product of having a good time in the water. And working with strobes has definitely provided a new challenge to laugh at. This one time I realized in the beginning of a long, arduous shore dive that I hadn’t plugged the hot shoe cable in. For the second dive I fixed that, only to realize in the water both the connections were wet. That was really fun.

Q: What was your favorite trip and why?
A: I just returned from a live aboard to Sea of Cortez and Revillagigedos. The water at Sea of Cortez was freezing and visibility was horrible but the sea lions were a blast. The best part of the trip was Roca Partida. We did the trip on our rebreathers and saw a tiger shark on a dawn dive one day. We saw hammerheads, dusky, silky, galapagos and whitetip reef sharks. The mantas were pretty much a spiritual experience, they really interact with you, and the visibility was amazing. I also love what Mexico is doing towards taking steps to preserve their beautiful marine habitats.

Manta Mexico

Manta Birostris at Roca Partida, Mexico

Kimberly Jeffries

Q: Where do you most want to go?
A: Everywhere! Thats a really hard question, the ocean is so dynamic and the life changes from season to season. Anywhere the next opportunity really presents itself.

Q: Any advice for budding photographers?
A: Haha, wow. I’m pretty sure I am a budding photographer. I guess my best advice is to bring your camera with you on every dive, because there’s so much to witness, but remember to experience the dive as well. Do every dive! You can’t get the shot if you’re not there. Stay humble, stay hungry and always remember where you came from. Fall in love with what you’re shooting because as divers and photographers, we’re really the frontline of awareness and one of the only voices the ocean has.