Stingray by Kenji Croman in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

This photo was taken in North Shore, Oahu. As I was leaving the beach I saw a couple fins sticking out of the water and people were pointing at it saying “Shark!” I got excited and grabbed my camera and fins and noticed before going in the water they were stingrays. They quickly swam away when they saw me in the water, but as I got closer the mother (big one) slowed down and put her tail up warning me to stay back. It was very excited to be so up close to such beautiful creatures. I took a hint from the mom and backed off, when I surfaced after my pursuit of the rays, I looked back at the beach and noticed I was very far from shore. I guess I was so excited I didn’t realize how far I swam with them. It was an awesome experience. It’s rare to see a family of stingrays in the water in Oahu.

Name:Kenji Croman

Place you live: Honolulu, Hawaii

Place your photo was taken: North Shore, Oahu

Can you sum up Honolulu? Paradise in every sense of the world.

Occupation: Marketing / Advertising / Photographer

Preoccupation: Wave Photography / Surfing / Traveling

What is a perfect day in Honolulu? Low 80’s, a good breezy trade wind blowing offshore, waves double overhead (10-12 ft). People enjoying the sun, families on the beach, kids playing, everyone happy.

If someone was visiting, what must they do? Drive around the island, eat shave ice, watch the sunset, have a Maitai, say “Mahalo” and “Aloha” a lot.

A perfect meal in Honolulu? A good steak at Roy’s Steakhouse.

What is the best thing about your spot? Being part of nature…to be inside the barrel is an amazing experience, as they say “Only a surfer knows the feeling”. It’s true with wave photography too, it’s a rush.

What is the worst? I’ve been hospitalized more times than I can remember, broken nose, dislocated shoulder, dislocated elbow, concussion, near broken neck with 5 days in the hospital, broken fingers (yes multiple), spinal fluid leaking from your ears after hundreds of tons of water slam down on you so hard. Shark encounters, being held under water for nearly a minute, 25 foot waves, multiple near drownings every year. I’ve nearly died more times than I can count on both my hands, it’s extremely dangerous to say the least, but very rewarding when I get that shot.

A little known fact about where you live? On a typical day, you can see a rainbow multiple times, some of the greatest rainbows you’ll ever see stretching miles across.

Where is your favorite place in the world? My home, Hawaii… but a very close second would be Samos, Greece.

Who are your favorite photographers? I’m quite embarrassed to say I don’t follow many photographers, I enjoy their pictures and I read a lot but I don’t follow any that closely to really have “favorites.” Not because I don’t respect their artwork, but because I don’t want their visions influencing my own art. I want to be unique and have my own style. I hope that makes sense. One photographer I really like is Peter Lik.