Growing up along Florida’s delicate and diverse coastline struck a passion for conservation in Kyle Soto. As an underwater photographer based in Boca Raton, Kyle’s life along the beach showed him not only the true beauty of the natural world, but also the value of preserving the ocean and its inhabitants.

After discovering the power of a camera, Kyle knew that photography was the perfect medium to bring what he saw in the ocean to the eyes of everyone around him. Whether it was dolphins acrobatically flipping through waves, or sea turtles triumphantly pushing through the sand to lay their eggs, Kyle constantly searched for special moments provided by nature.

Not only is he determined to shed light on fragile species and ecosystems but to capture them in unique and challenging compositions that will resonate with his audience. For Kyle, each and every image is an opportunity to inspire conservation and spark creativity around the globe.

“Some days, I go out into the ocean with a specific shot in mind. I knew from the time that my alarm went off that morning that I wanted to capture a tight and intimate shot of a sea turtle breathing. My girlfriend and I packed up the gear, loaded the paddleboards onto the roof of my car, and headed to the beach.

This day I was armed with a Nikon D750 and a 35 mm f/1.4 inside of an Aquatech Image Solutions water housing. I brought out the 35mm lens because I knew I wanted to photograph the turtle up close and tack sharp. I had a vision for the shot but next came the difficult part, actually capturing it! After about 30 minutes out on the water, we spotted a super mellow turtle cruising along the reef and grazing on algae.

I kept my distance and observed as he glanced up at me, only to go back to his everyday business as if I wasn’t even there. I knew he was the perfect candidate for a powerful headshot. While swimming along the reef, he would come up to the surface for a breath of air about every 10 to 15 minutes and only spend a few seconds filling his lungs.

This was going to have to be a split-second shot. With my aperture set to f/3.5, I knew the focus was going to have to be perfectly fixed on his eye. I see the turtle rise in the water column; I think to myself ‘is this going to be the moment?’ He reaches the surface as I raise my camera up to the waterline and aim the lens slightly above the small waves. With only a few seconds to capture the shot, the lens struggles to focus in the dynamic conditions.

Finally, I see the turtle’s head perfectly framed in the viewfinder [and] press the shutter, unsure of the final product. I get back on the paddleboard and click through the playback; I was more than happy with the photo. I wanted a shot like this to evoke emotion in my audience, to give them a face to think about when the topic of conservation comes up.”

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