Manta Fest Kick Off

IMG_0046The resort is hopping with energy and full of new faces, repeat guests and this year’s pro presenters.

For the next two weeks you can ride shotgun with me and my Canon and look inside this year’s Manta Fest in and out of the water.

Things started off at the bar with a welcome cocktail and meet the managers meeting where Bill introduces himself and some of the folks behind the hospitality.

IMG_0047Manta Fest comes complete with a full itinerary of diving, education, entertainment, activities and tours.

Throughout the week the pros are offering classes, workshops, one-on-one training as well as evening presentations of their work with more photo tips and information.

One of the big deals here is that the contestants have virtually unlimited access to some of the best shooters in the world who are here to help you become a better photographer.

Your Hosts and Pros

From left to right is David Fleetham, Numie and Bill Acker, Tim Rock, Marty Snyderman and Frank Schneider, this year’s Manta Fest party hosts and pros.


IMG_0056Perfect weather kicked off the first official day of the diving.

Contestants can dive up to 5 times a day and will be entering up to 3 images for each photo category.

  • Big animals
  • Macro
  • Reef scenic
  • Land / Culture

So far, DSLR and point-and-shoot classes are the only ones – video and smartphones have yet to make the roster.


In the water

IMG_7269 The lagoon was so glassy that the boat captain couldn’t see the reef in front of us and it actually slowed down our ride to our first site.

Today’s dive boat was with Tim Rock and his model as well as Judy Bennet, at her annual appearance – Judy’s never missed a Manta Fest, she made her reservation for 2014 on Sunday, the morning after she arrived.

Note to self… reserve your room for next year, now.


IMG_7279 Ever wonder where those pictures come from with the model that never exhales in hot pink 1980’s gear? Probably Tim’s hard drive.

Tim has been shooting Micronesia since people have been shooting Micronesia… he’s one of the originals here.

Today we got to watch him work and see where those magazine pictures come from.


Pro Support

IMG_0058Another benefit that the pros bring is on-site technical expertise.

Tim is also a rep for Aquatica and performed surgery on Judy’s 7-year old Nikon housing right there in the dive shop.

He’s also testing an unreleased D7100 housing this week, which Judy is upgrading to – so she’s getting to test drive some of the latest equipment at this year’s party.

Whatever you want to get it on is happening; from drinks in the pool, shooting models in the lagoon, developing RAWs at the bar and gear talk in the shop. The poolside game is strong during Manta Fest as well.



Kicking off the classes is Marty with a gear prep and maintenance workshop.

He’s made his life’s work underwater photography and has yet to flood a camera – tonight he’s sharing his secrets to success in the conference room.

We’re getting the inside scoop on how photography equipment dies, from flooded housings, to cut synch cords and dead strobes – and how to avoid this in our photography future.

Pro Media


Each night one of the pros presents their work on the Mnuw.

Marty kicked off with a dinner lecture explaining how he gets the best images.

This covered everything from shutter speeds to composition, lighting and knowing your wildlife.

The third deck of the restaurant is full, cocktails poured and dinner being served with one of the foremost professional wildlife photographers there is, handing down his experience.


Get on it

This is a good time to be here with or without Manta Fest – the whole island dive map is open and we have calm seas.

When you book during Manta Fest, you get the same diving, plus a guaranteed great international crowd and some of the hottest photography information going by the best in the business.

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