Behind the Scenes

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2

Ambassador Andrew Raak and his roommates are still able to swim, snorkel, and surf off the shores of Maui, Hawaii. Photo © 2020 Andrew Raak

The second part in our series about how our Ambassador team is keeping active - personally and photographically - in a time of government mandated shelter in place orders.

copyright Alison Bounce

Ambassador Alison Bounce - and her sous-marine Barbie - were up to the challenge to dress themselves with a pillow for a challenge on the social networking app TikTok. Photos © 2020 Alison Bounce

Alison Bounce | St Peray, France

But this my quarantine ... I discovered the famous application TikTok and many of my friends challenged me on. The last deal was about Pillow. You have to dress yourselves with a pillow as you style. I chose my Ikelite outfit for it. My second occupation is about my bath. I miss ocean so much. So I spend my time in bath with my new muse. For this special occasion, her outfit is similar to mine :) #pillowchallenge for everybody :)

Keep going and obviously stay home !


Copyright Erena Shimoda

Screen time seems to be ubiquitous during this stay-at-home period. Ambassador Erena Shimoda takes a break to do a jigsaw puzzle. Photo © 2020 Erena Shimoda 

Erena Shimoda | San Francisco, California, USA

What am I doing since the lock down?

Right before things got crazy, I took a risk to go to Cabo Pulmo and La Paz, Mexico. I read the news everyday to make sure I can still get home safe and sound. And I'm glad I made it home! My beautiful tan faded already but I still want to keep my spirit high! When I feel sad, I look at underwater images and videos to de-stress. I've been editing images from the Mexico trip and they still make me smile. I got to see bull sharks and hear whale songs underwater for the first time. Sea lions are playful and I was mesmerized by their beautiful body movements.

Copyright Erena Shimoda

Cabo Pulmo and La Paz, Mexico are well known for their abundance of larger marine life including sea lions, bull sharks, turtles, and whales. Photo © 2020 Erena Shimoda

Other than that, I've been entertaining myself by working out with YouTube, watching Netflix, cooking new recipes, learning new editing skills and doing FaceTime with my friends and family. My greatest accomplishment was to finish doing a jigsaw puzzle. It has an illustration of animals on a world map. This made me feel missing travel so much!

Erena Shimoda Puzzle Gif

When the world revives, I would love to plan for my next trip. In fact, I should search for flight deals right now! I don't know exactly where I want to go yet but I want to see humpback whales in the near future.

Copyright Erena Shimoda

Signs of life in urban San Francisco, typically teeming with outdoor activity. As most of us are stuck eating at home, it's a great time to dust off the cookbooks (or google) and try out new recipes. Photos © 2020 Erena Shimoda

I hope everybody is staying healthy and safe. Sending deepest sympathy and 1000 cranes to people who had lost loved ones. And thank you to all the doctors and nurses for saving people's lives.


Copyright Grant Thomas Ikelite Ambassador

Grant Thomas has been inspired by fellow Ambassador Steve Miller to check out the local pond in search of mating frogs to photograph. Photo © 2020 Grant Thomas

Grant Thomas | Glasgow, Scotland, UK

I should be on a boat somewhere in the far east of Indonesia right now but Covid-19 had other ideas and instead I had to make a last minute dash back to the UK to spend the foreseeable future quarantined at home. There are positives in this though... I think. No there really is and one of them, for me, has been having time to go back through old hard drives looking for those lost and forgotten images and video clips. It really has surprised me the things I looked over in the past.

Here is a new video I put together of diving highlights from around the world, filmed over the past 12 months: 


We’re very fortunate here in the UK that we can still leave the house for exercise, which has been a great way for me to explore my local nature spots and stumble across some amazing places that I never even knew existed. One particular area I came across was a small pond full of mating frogs which, after being inspired by fellow Ikelite ambassador Steven Miller, I have decided to head back next week and try my hand at taking some pictures. So hopefully will have some of those to share with you shorty! Watch for updates on my Instagram @grantthomasphotography and Facebook @GrantThomasPhotos.

Copyright Grant Thomas Ikelite Ambassador

When one of your jobs is working remotely, the transition isn't necessarily so tough. Grant produces marketing content for Mermaid Liveaboards who are based in Indonesia. Photo © 2020 Grant Thomas

With regards to work, I’m probably one of the lucky ones, in that I still have work to get on with from home, producing marketing content for Mermaid Liveaboards and various media publications however, like many of us I’m looking forward to plunging back into the ocean as soon as possible. For the time being though I will have to settle for my bathtub and inflatable fish!


Copyright Shawn Jackson Ikelite Ambassador

Shawn Jackson gives his son, Darcy, a home schooling lesson on underwater photography. Lesson 1: Setting up your gear. Photo © 2020 Shawn Jackson

Shawn Jackson | Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Well, my annual Salt Life commercial shoot back home in the Caribbean was canceled early on, followed by a project in the forests of mainland Honduras. Now Operation work-from-home-while-also-homeschooling-your-kid is underway in the Jackson household instead. My wife has our son doing cool projects and lessons but yesterday I did a little housing set up lesson for our 7 year old Darcy!

While we love the time at home, I'm looking forward to traveling and getting back in the water once things settle down.


Copyright 2020 Karen Bagley Ikelite Ambassador

Karen Bagley's underwater workshops have been delayed but she's ready to get back down to the Bahamas and get back to teaching soon. Photo © 2020 Karen Bagley

Karen Bagley | Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The great lockdown of 2020! I don’t think I have ever gone this long without shooting for work since I began my career as a photographer. This most certainly has taken a toll as I am very much so an extrovert and working with and for people is a huge part of what keeps me moving. So, while I am an extremely motivated person this has presented some challenges, if you will, with how my mindset works.

Copyright 2020 Karen Bagley Ikelite Ambassador

Karen and her husband are both in the photography business and enjoy working and traveling together. They're taking this time to review their business plans for the next 5 years and beyond. Photo © 2020 Karen Bagley

While my sense of purpose has been weird lately my brain has never once stopped thinking about the future. I also am extremely thankful for this time. As creatives I truly feel that we keep our brain so busy we rarely have time to sit and focus on our businesses. Where we see ourselves and our business in 5, 10, 15 years. So, while the current circumstances are not ideal, I am getting much accomplished! I have HUGE plans for the second this shelter in place is lifted AND for 2021. I am always trying to better my craft. The beauty of photography is… there will ALWAYS be something new for you to learn. A new technique, understanding lighting better, learning more about the gear you use… I mean the list is literally endless.

Copyright 2020 Karen Bagley Ikelite Ambassador

Working with underwater models is a niche that Karen has fully embraced from creating fine art to teaching underwater portraiture. Photo © 2020 Karen Bagley

My main focuses right now are underwater photography EDUCATION and working on my own personal underwater projects. I treasure teaching this amazing field of photography. There are so many who want to embrace this amazing niche’ and I am here for it! So, while my underwater workshops this year have had to be rescheduled for 2021, they are going to be the most AMAZING workshops Significant Moments has ever held! One of them will be held in the Bahamas working with real wildlife and amazing underwater Bahamas. I am working with other underwater photographers to add speakers AND we will be doing a beach cleanup when this workshop is done!

Copyright 2020 Karen Bagley Ikelite Ambassador

The next Bahamas workshop has been expanded to include a beach clean up in addition to speakers and one-on-one instruction. Photo © 2020 Karen Bagley

You see through every negative there always comes a positive… sometimes multiple positives. I also am using this time to start my underwater artwork gallery. It has always been a dream of mine to have a gallery with my underwater work available for anyone to purchase for their own home. I want to raise awareness for the ocean and the wildlife in it. With every piece sold a percentage of the proceeds go to ocean conservation and that makes me feel like I am able to give something back.

Copyright 2020 Karen Bagley Ikelite Ambassador

Karen Bagley is using some of her down time to create an online gallery to offer her underwater art for sale. A portion of the proceeds will go towards underwater conservation causes. Photo © 2020 Karen Bagley

The glass is not half empty, it is half full. If you are like me and have struggled with the social distancing HANG IN THERE! Please know you are not alone and this time really can be a gift if we use our time wisely. Think to the future and keep moving forward! Your underwater journey is only on hold… soon we all will back to creating in our favorite place… UNDERWATER!!!!!


Copyright 2020 Andrew Raak Ikelite Ambassador

Maui isn't the worse place to be quarantined, being surrounded by water and an abundance of nature. Residents are still allowed to swim, snorkel, and surf, as long as they do not congregate on the shore. Photo © 2020 Andrew Raak

Andrew Raak | Maui, Hawaii, USA

So, its been about 25 days since people here on the island of Maui began the initial quarantine procedures. Enforcement of policies had a slow roll out of orders and directions. As my main gig as captain slowly disintegrated, I was left with a new job to stay at home. For sometime now I would not visit the sea to watch the whales breach, or share my love of the coral reefs with new divers. Like others I began to remove myself from society, and keep to my social circle of roommates. Thankfully, that circle was comprised of other furloughed dive instructors who were also anxiously awaiting their return to a career of ocean exploration.

Copyright 2020 Andrew Raak Ikelite Ambassador

Whale watching is a popular activity in Hawaii, and drone photography can be a safe way to shoot while social distancing. Photo © 2020 Andrew Raak

Within the scope of local mandates, we have been able to hold on to some parts of our old lives. Local laws restrict the gathering of any groups in public, however we are still allowed the freedom of exercise. With the ocean being an integral part in Hawaiian culture there seems to be a compromise with social distancing and the sea. We are still allowed to swim, snorkel, and surf as long as we do not sit, or congregate along the beaches or near by parks. I’m still able to hike, freedive, surf, and shoot to keep myself in a good mental state and thats how I've spent most of my days.

Copyright Andrew Raak Ikelite Ambassador

Getting some sun and fresh air and keeping physically active are essential in staying healthy - for both mind and body. Photos © 2020 Andrew Raak

Copyright Andrew Raak Ikelite Ambassador

Working full time as a boat captain and dive instructor affords Andrew Raak plenty of opportunities to encounter some amazing underwater life like these Hawaiian spinner dolphins. But when shooting so frequently, it's common for images to collect digital dust in his archives. Photo © 2020 Andrew Raak

With additional free time I’m am able to dig back into my catalog’s image galleries and video libraries to work on creating. Working full time as a captain/dive instructor I sometimes push back developing images to the back burner when the dive season is in full swing. So, here are some images I’ve shot and developed during the last month of Quarantine. I'm truly thankful to be in a region of the world where the ocean is still at my finger tips, and be surrounded by Ohana to help me get through these challenging times.

Also, check out my Youtube Channel for the latest video projects I’ve been working on!

Copyright Andrew Raak Ikelite Ambassador

Underwater photography is a mainstay of life for Andrew Raak - whether quarantined or not. When it's impossible to get in the water, there's always work to be done on photos and videos that have collected over the years. Photo © 2020 Andrew Raak


 Keep Reading: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 3

 Related Article: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1

Stay tuned for more from the Ambassador team. We also want to hear what you're doing! Send us your story and a couple of photos for the next COVID-19 Check-In | Customer edition! 


Additional Reading 

The Power of Total Immersion | Erena Shimoda Talk at Google

Getting into the Underwater Photography Business with Karen Bagley

Shooting Florida Gators with Shawn Jackson

Planning a Trip to Tonga to Swim with Humpback Whales

Creature Feature: Scaly Tailed Mantis Shrimp

Building the Next Generation Backyard Underwater Photo Studio

Reading next

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1
An Insider's Guide to Diving Yap, Micronesia