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ABOUT Maxwel

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A nature and wildlife cinematographer & photographer with a passion for showcasing the world's stunning natural diversity. Maxwel grew up on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia before travelling around the world evolving his skills as a photographer. Maxwel is a certified commercial diver, rebreather diver, underwater and above water RED camera operator, tech diver, cave diver, experienced drone pilot, and acclaimed photographer. He's also a brand ambassador with Divesoft, and Huish Outdoors, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and a proud Canadian!

Q&A with Maxwel Hohn

Photo: Tynan Callesen

What’s it like being a professional underwater cinematographer?

It's exciting, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. Filming with RED cinema cameras underwater requires a level of specialized skills, equipment and training that I've had to acquire over the years. The challenge of shooting a specific species, behaviours or ecosystems changes with each job, that's the exciting part - you never know what will happen. My background as a commercial diver has prepared me for anything a production can throw at me! Ultimately though, seeing your work broadcast as part of a larger project is an incredible feeling and something I'll never get tired of. 

How long have you been diving?

I started freediving in 1996 and got certified as a scuba diver in 2004. At 18, in 2005, I was certified as a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor - most of my life has been spent in the water. Back then I would never have thought I would eventually become a certified commercial diving instructor, rebreather diver, full cave diver, ice diver, and freediver. It's been quite the journey! 

What made you want to become a diver?

I was very fortunate to have parents who supported my decision to travel at a young age. When I was 17 I left home to backpack in Honduras. I ended up travelling to the Bay Islands where I took my open water course. My instructor was a Kiwi named Orlando who seemed to have life all figured out! Living on a tropical island, teaching scuba diving... what could be better? He not only inspired me to become a diver but also to become an instructor. The next 8 years I spent travelling and working all over the world as a scuba instructor.


What role did commercial diving play?

I hit a point in my recreational diving career where I wanted to learn new skills and commercial diving was the answer. It enabled me to make a good living from my passion for diving.

Are you still a commercial diver?

Yes I am, I no longer work in the commercial diving industry or instruct others, instead I use my commercial diving certification as an underwater cinematographer. A lot of nature and wildlife productions require specific certifications, 


When did you get bitten by the photo bug?

In the early stages of my career as a recreational dive instructor I started shooting with a compact camera. Before Facebook was around I used to email friends and family photos from my diving and travel adventures. That evolved into sharing my work and growing my social media presence, slowly my hobby progressed into a career and I'm now currently filming for Netflix, Disney, Nat Geo, BBC, Apple TV, and IMAX!


What is it about diving that you love so much?

Diving allows you to explore our world in a 360 degree environment. On land we are limited to where we can walk or climb, but underwater we have the ability to fly.

Who is your go-to dive buddy?

Scuba diving is a sport that's full of amazing experiences and special encounters, and it's great to share those moments with friends. I have many dive buddies - some that like to join me in the cold waters of Canada, some prefer the more technical challenges of exploring caves in Mexico. You can never have too many dive buddies! The one dive buddy who has stolen my heart, and I hope to travel through-out the world with, is my partner Cailin Lindsay.

What is your favourite dive site?

During the summer I really enjoy fresh water diving in the lakes and river canyons of Vancouver Island. I’m drawn to these locations for the unique photography they present with tadpoles, lily pads, and schools of salmon. During the winter months diving along the colourful walls of Discovery Passage, or the kelp forests north of Port Hardy - both are word class sites and great to photograph..

Where would you like to dive but haven’t?

Antarctica is on the top of my list. One day I’d love to get in the water to film penguins and leopard seals. I've filmed and dive in the Arctic, so it would be intersting to work in Antartica also and experience the differences. I'd also really like to dive in Chile!


Craziest thing you’ve seen underwater?

I was working underwater when a pod of orcas swim by! A large bull came very close and I’ll never forget the eye contact he made with me. It was a mix of emotions, but ultimately one of the most memorable marine encounters I've ever had. 


Favourite dive snack?

I often spend a lot of time in cold water, so hearty, warm meals like a good soup are is my meal of choice. At the end of the day, a nice beer with the rest of the crew always goes down well!

Favourite diving movie?

It was a little cheesy, but I really enjoyed 'Into The Blue'. I really loved the treasure hunting aspect and it inspired me to purchase my own underwater metal detector and go hunt for treasure of my own!


Proudest diving moment or achievement?

I was part of a team of cinematographers for a Netflix series called Island of the Sea Wolves, not only was it a great showcase of Vancouver Island, where I live, but it earned us an Emmy Award! I went down to LA with the rest of the team and we had a very exciting and enjoyable evening at the awards. In total the series won 4 Emmy Awards, which is very unusual for a wildlife series. It was great to be a part of that team and make a professional contribution that is recognized by your peers.    

What dive gear do you use?

  • Divesoft CCR Liberty Light rebreather

  • Hollis CCR Prism 2 rebreather

  • BARE Sentry Tech Drysuit

  • Hollis Neotek Semi Dry

  • Hollis LX200 Regulators

  • Hollis Elite II Harness and Wing

  • Hollis M1 Mask

  • Hollis F1 Fin

  • Suunto EON Steel Computer

  • Shearwater dive computers

What camera gear do you use?

  • RED 8K V-Raptor VV

  • Nauticam RED V-Raptor / Komodo housing

  • Canon lenses for RED 

  • Canon R5 and Nauticam housing

  • CN20 50-1000mm zoom lens

  • Iowa probe lens and peri-probe

  • A selection of custom housings, battery packs, and camera systems

  • And lots more you can look at it all here!


Proud to be a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

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