Photographs like this make us long for awesome adventures under the sea. The guy behind this photo is Thomas Conrad, who hails from Bavaria. He is living the dream—plunging into oceans and caves, capturing every shot from wide angle to macro. When we caught up with Thomas to chat, he was prepping for a trip to the Galapagos. Read on, and dive into his experiences with sharks and other creatures of the deep!

1. Main body: Canon EOS 550D
2. Housing: Sea & Sea RDX 550
3. Strobes: Sea & Sea YS 110 Alpha
4. Lens: Canon 8-15mm f/4
5. Lens: Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8

How did you get into underwater photography?
THOMAS CONRAD: I am an autodidact, so I learned all about photography on my own. The best start would be UW Photography. On one diving trip, I went with a buddy of mine who was taking some classes at UW Photography. When I saw the photos at the end of the week, it really got me, and I was addicted. That was seven years ago. I don’t know where UW Photography will take me. But at the moment, I am very happy showing my images to my friends and to the 500px community. I might sell some stuff in the future to raise money for the conservation of our oceans.

Do you have any advice for amateur photographers who want to venture underwater?
THOMAS: If you want to start with underwater photography, you should learn how to dive first, and learn all about behavior of the subjects you shoot. Your diving skills and knowledge about your subjects are the most important. You have to be an expert in buoyancy to position yourself at the right spot, without destroying any of the life down there. Most of the time, you take the shot free-floating. Since the water is dense, and there are a lot of particles in the water, you have to get really close with your subjects. This is the part I love most! When you get up close — about one to three feet away — you are interacting in some way.

Your shark photos have been making a splash in our community. In your photo sets, we noticed how passionate you are about sharks and shark conservation. Can you talk about that more with us?
THOMAS: Yes, I love the oceans and the sharks. When I saw my first shark underwater, I was very afraid. But when it swam up close, my fear changed into fascination. Most people are afraid of sharks, because they don’t know much about them. They believe what they see in movies like “Jaws”, and what the media tells them. Even on the Discovery Channel or National Geography, you sometimes see sharks shown as some kind of monster. Yes, they are apex predators. But we are not part of their evolution, and therefore not on their menu. The five to seven people who get killed each year by sharks are real tragedies. But I don’t think the best answer is to kill 100 million sharks per year. Sharks are so important to the balance of the marine ecosystem. In the meantime, sharks are now endangered. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. And now for something more fun. If you could be any sea creature, what would you be?
THOMAS: I’d be a whale or a shark to get down into the deepest part of the sea, and explore the beauty no human has seen before. My second choice would be a sawfish. The saw fish is really helpful in saving buddy fish caught in fishing nets.

Explore more of Thomas’ photos here. Or browse what’s trending in our Underwater category!

Got any questions for Thomas, or any of your own ocean adventures to share with us? Comment below!