The Natural World. As it appears through the lens of Kevin Deacon
In an ever changing retail landscape that is transforming the in-store experience to an “optimized, algorithmic, and one click checkout” we can acknowledge that technology has greatly disrupted the shopping experience while being an amelioration for the shopper. However this advance towards digital commerce has removed some key experiential components that can turn what should be an authentic, delightful, and rewarding experience into a cold, confusing, and overall underwhelming situation.
As we further emerge into the ocean of digital commerce, fin tech, crypt currencies, and mind numbing meta-verses affording our human capital to shop and support platforms as opposed to plazas can we also reimagine the value of customer service and the pleasures of the customer experience?
In the 20 plus years that our family has traveled the distant landscapes of Mexico, exchanged goods and services with clients across the United States and abroad. Among the most rewarding experiences of this endeavor has been engaging with people and communities foreign to our own. "E-commerce" and "community" are two terms that may seem at odds with each other yet Zenwaro has created a sense of community by affording opportunities to interact with a diverse class of esteemed patrons from around the world then to share these insightful interconnections in blog posts like the one you are about to read .
For years we've treasured these encounters beyond the obvious reason of a joyous inclination to conduct business, more so we have taken the approach to appreciate these points of engagement less as a transaction and more of an experience. Honoring that our customers have come to "check-out" with their own intensions and stories, they are not just another conversion intending to be monetized for future gains. Before, these experiences were limited to a one to one in-store environment, which limited the ability to share a customer's story therefore minimizing the possibility to build a community.
Similar to how our family of artisans have invaluable stories so to do our customers and in the case of Kevin Deacon the story is quite profound...
01 - 02. An article from the publication Scuba Diver featuring Kevin's early work. "Spearfishing was the motivation in the original decade of diving in Australia, as evidenced by this photo of Kevin Deacon taken in 1966. By 1980 the pure pleasure of exploration and underwater photography dominated." | 03. One meter from a Great White Shark captured by Kevin in the waters off Neptune Island, south Australia. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
Kevin Deacon grew up in the seaside and bush land suburb of Manly located in the northern beaches of Sydney Australia. A native Aussie, his childhood was spent swimming in the surf, fishing with his father, and snorkeling in the pristine waters of Manly on the northern tip of Sydney's expansive harbor. Eventually Kevin's ability to tread water became second nature to walking and he began spear fishing. It was during this time that he was inspired by the pioneer of Scuba Diving, Jacques Cousteau, while other kids were dreaming of becoming astronauts Kevin was determined to become an "Aquanaut like Cousteau and explore the World underwater". A fascination for the deep blue took hold of a young Kevin, channeling the relentless raw nature of adolescence intrigue he talked his mum into buying some basic scuba gear and taught himself to scuba dive in the shallows of Sydney Harbor.
Fear can be a strong deterrent for anyone pursuing their dreams often it is the little moments of adversity poise the mental options to give in or to push through."I had no fear, I was already adept at snorkel diving, swimming and surfing so I found it quite easy to master."
On the basis of Kevin's self taught ability to scuba the ocean and his passion to pursue a career that did not yet exist immediately after leaving school at age 15 he began volunteering at the local sports store. "I made myself as indispensable as possible and in 1966 at the age of 18 in 1966 they hired me full-time and put me in charge of the diving department and the scuba school."
It was also around this time, inspired by the underwater photography being produced by the first pioneers of this craft that Kevin retired his spear gun forever and purchased my first underwater camera system.
01. Coral reefs only exist within narrow band circling the globe on either side of the equator and are exceedingly endangered world wide. Captured by Kevin Deacon Great Barrier Reef Queensland Australia. | 02. Kevin emerging from a dive where his team studied the remains of a WWII American destroyer that was torpedoed by Japanese bombers and is now 60meters below the surface. A depth of this size is considered a danger zone even for the most skilled divers. | 03. Off the coast of the Bimini Island of the Bahamas a 7 meter Great Hammerhead approaches during a shark feed. While greatly feared and largely misunderstood hammerheads are far less threatening than most humans understand. Their cephalofoil shaped heads allow the shark to maneuver incredibly well one of the reasons they are an apex predator. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
Kevin was 18 when he sheathed his spear, a defining moment where he transitioned from hunting to documenting life in the ocean. Kevin understood at this very early stage of an industry which barely existed if he was to realize his dreams, drawing attention to the mysterious and magical ecosystems of the sea and any future monetary success would be intertwined.
Knowing that Kevin was mostly self educated up to this point in his passion to become an "Aquanaut" I asked if he had any formal education in photography or UW photography- "I have never had any formal training in photography or anything else for that matter. I left school at the first opportunity. I hated school, I always felt caged there. So I taught myself everything I needed to know in order to pursue whatever I saw as a business opportunity that related to my passion to explore the marine world, photography and a life of adventure. I would credit my passion for reading all available published material related to these things and following the example of others who, like me, were pioneers in these fields."
Kevin point's out- "In the beginning underwater photography equipment was in its infancy, we didn’t have the equipment that above water photographers would take for granted. The technology simply did not exist!. Our cameras were installed in basic waterproof housings with very little control of the camera. These would accommodate just one lens, we had no choice of other lenses, no macro, no telephoto and most important to us, no wide angle lens.
Imagine if you will, going for a dive with just one hour of air supply in your scuba tank, 36 shots on your roll of film and if you needed lighting you had to carry 36 disposable flash bulbs!
Once your air or roll of film was finished, that was it, dive and underwater photography all over until you could return another day!
Today it’s all changed for the better, we have digital cameras from Nikon, Canon or Sony that never run out of image capture space, electronic strobe lighting that can illuminate the underwater world all day long, we have the use of every kind of lens Nikon, Canon or Sony have ever invented, and we have unlimited air supply. And best of all, the cameras and lenses are just as suitable for my wildlife photography above water! And finally, we can share our images Worldwide, instantly if need be!"
Love, Africa, and Business...
01. Kevin was just 3 meter from these two desert queens as they rest on the desert sands of Namibia. Kevin commented on this particular image that in order for him to take this shot required a very thin proximity. This demands skillful and calculated movements and a mindful watch for any signs of stress or defensive behavior. | 02. A bull elephant known as a "Giant Tusker" due to two centuries of poaching for their ivory Giant Tuskers are now extremely rare and highly protected in Africa. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
As Kevin's groundbreaking work with underwater image capture of marine life grew so did his accomplishments in marine documentary film making, authoring several coffee table books and becoming a prominent dive expedition leader. With 80% of the World underwater Kevin had plenty of life and ecosystems to explore and from his lens share with the rest of the world. Terrestrial subjects like Wildlife didn’t enter Kevin's focus until his first trip to Africa which subsequently everything changed. "Africa, does that!" Kevin exclaims- "It is the only place I can go that provides the ‘up close and personal’ in your face encounters with a hint of danger, plenty of excitement, just like when I am underwater. There is very little difference being face to face with Lions or Sharks! And I need that adrenaline rush. I am addicted to the exciting pictures! My time and experience in Africa afforded me the opportunity to capture Wildlife and Marine life in a range of environments. Africa broadened my horizons, and taught me to appreciate wildlife and birdlife of my homeland Australia which has eventually allowed me to pursue my photography passion at home between trips elsewhere in the World." During Kevins years discovering, diving, and capturing Africa is also when he met the love if his life "Cherie". Not long after Kevin proposed to Cherie during a diving safari in Papua New Guinea . Cherie and Kevin later married on the continent of shared passion, Africa! I asked Kevin, what is it like to work with the person you not only love but are married to? "For the past 26 years Cherie has enriched my life; her passion for adventure, diving, marine life and wildlife burns as fiercely as mine so we share this life in complete synergy! We also share the same taste in art and lifestyle."
01. Cherie Deacon and 2 of her diving diving buddies. When Kevin began his diving career it was like many industries of this time, completely male dominated. Today woman divers now occupy 40% of the recreational diving industry. | 02. A coconut octopus enchants its way across the ocean floor of the Lembeh Straight No. Sulawesi Indonesia. | 03. Cuban dive master using a technique to put a Ground shark into tonic immobility. A technique Cuban divers have mastered, much safer for studying biologist and less harmful to sharks than traditional tranquilizing methods. Allowing for tracking, measurements, and inspection of the species. Gardens of the Queen Cuba. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
Kevin started Dive Centre, Dive 2000 in 1982 and later expanded the business with his wife Cherie. By the early 1980's the recreational diving industry was now well established in Sydney. But Kevin and Cherie felt that every scuba business models was the same, all offering scuba training, scuba sales and a bit of guided diving at the local dive sites. Based on Kevin's years of experience and skills introduce Cherie's knowledge for how to build and scale a multi-faceted marine enterprise of this sort they felt they could offer Australia something far more advanced. Consequently Dive 2000 was Australia’s first and only dive centre that offered the usual services but also underwater photography training. Dive 2000 now trains and certifies enthusiasts of all ages knowledge building courses to help them pursue their passion to discover and document the natural world options that were not available to Kevin when he was young. Dive 2000 is still the only business in Australia and possibly the World which offers all options under on roof.
From the moment I began speaking with Kevin I sensed no small amount of charm and enthusiasm, but as we spoke more and I got to know him I stumbled upon a fair amount humbleness and appreciation in his nature. When speaking more about his achievements in life and business Kevin shared- "I have to give much credit to my wife and business partner, Cherie Deacon, and to many other great people that included my diving family related by marriage, my amazing brother, Jeff, my dive masters and instructors who were also inspired by my example and supported me all my life. They deserve enormous credit! I guess I can take some credit for teaching them scuba diving and inspiring them to pursue this exciting lifestyle and business opportunities."
01. Kevin and Cherie Deacon making a new friend while on safari at the Giraffe Center Nairobi Kenya. | 02. Cherie Deacon shooting the breeze with a Giant Galapagos Tortoise. | 03. Kevin and Cherie take a rare moment to be in front of the camera while leading clients on a recent African safari. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
As my time with Kevin came to an end I thought I would bring it home, literally and ask what home life is like for this accomplished yet humble Aussie?
"I am a third generation Australian and a classic example of what many Aussie’s like me love. Wide open space, a vast land of sun, surf, beaches, bush and endless untamed outback, very little pollution and best of all, a lack of crowds.
I love that I can live in Sydney, Australia’s most populated city, yet in the suburbs here still be surrounded by pristine bush land, native animals and birds, yet just a short drive to the ocean and I am surrounded by marine life unique to this part of the Pacific Ocean. Salt water runs in my veins and I hate concrete jungles so I am in paradise here."
Since Zenwaro was how Kevin and I initially came into contact I finished our conversation by inquiring about He and Cherie's home. Specifically what is the architecture like? What elements have you incorporated from all your and Cherie's years of travel and discovery? What makes it your Sanctuary of Zen?
"The style of our home décor is influenced entirely by the countries and environments where Cherie and I have experienced our marine life and wildlife safaris. Every sculpture or piece of décor has a story to tell and the pictures on our walls are images of marine life or wildlife that has strong artistic elements.
The theme for our courtyard was inspired by our visits to the resorts of Baja while diving the remote islands of Pacific Mexico, Cave Diving the Yucatan Peninsula and exploring the ancient Mayan city, Chichen Itza. The Talavera Longhorn sculptures we purchased from Zenwaro were the perfect addition to this theme.
The theme of my home office includes my underwater images and reflects one small part of the many Dive Adventures we have had.
The dining room exhibits photography and tribal artifacts we purchased from the indigenous artisans during our Papua New Guinea and Africa Safaris.
Basically we enjoy our home having a resort feel that also reflects our career and life of adventure and our connection with the World's Marine Life and Wildlife.
Our home is multi level, and three of those levels are completely outdoors! The two rear courtyards back onto a sandstone cliff. The front balcony has valley views below with the sea in the distance. We don’t have a favorite, we use the location based on wind, rain and sun as we are spoiled for choice. But outdoors is always our preferred choice at every opportunity. Especially the courtyard that has a large Stainless Steel BBQ and a Bar Fridge! It is an Aussie tradition that the ladies cook in the kitchen and the men cook on the outdoor BBQ! Always with a drink in hand."
01. "In the backy" as said in Aussie land. Kevin and Cherie's backyard that literally presses up against Australia's great brush land. They have created a magical and inviting spaces throughout their home. Zenwaro's Talavera Longhorn's add a touch of culture and authenticity. | 02. A pair of Kookaburras making their daily refuge into. Kevin and Cherie's backy the wild birds have adopted Kevin and Cherie when they are too lazy to hunt. Kevin remarked that- "They gently take meat from our fingers as they have developed a total trust in us, but we keep it minimal to ensure they still hunt. Photo Credits: Kevin Deacon Ocean Earth Images.
All images featured in this blog were taken by Kevin Deacon and his team of amazing professionals at Dive Centre 2000. Dive 2000 is truly a multi faceted company that offers so much more than just wildlife and marine life photography, though their photos are some of the most intriguing on this and of this diverse planet! Cherie and Kevin's journey is far from over so we urge to check out their website and follow their instagram!