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Kurt Amsler

Kurt Amsler, winner of over 100 awards at international photo competitions and a world champion title, turns 60 this year, but you would never know it watching him mountain bike up a steep pass with his black Labrador running at his heels in the hills behind his house, a lovely home that sits overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean and a small picturesque village in the south of France.
Kurt Amsler
Published in X-Ray Issue: 12 - Aug 2006
Authored by: | Photography: | Translation:
Download pdf â–ş A talk with Kurt Amsler
Kurt says he still goes on dive expeditions around the world, but now he is usually the most senior underwater photographer on the boat. It doesn’t bother him. He has two young kids (“I started late,” he winks), a lovely wife who is a doctor and plenty of spunk left for adventure.

Kurt explains the humble beginnings of his love for the sea and underwater photography, which began in, of all places, land-locked Switzerland, where he was born and raised near Lake Zurich. At the time, no one dived in Switzerland. There were no dive shops or divers. So, Kurt, the adventurous and resourceful ten-year-old boy that he was, inspired by the books of underwater legend Hans Hass, devised his own underwater breathing apparatus with the help of some friends and the local bike shop, the owner of which loaned the use of the shop’s bicycle pump to Kurt on Saturdays.

Needles to say, no busted bicycle tires in town could be filled on those days when Kurt was using the pump for his underwater expeditions into the local lake... It was a small sacrifice to make for science. The apparatus was made of a breathing tube and a lung that allowed the diver to stay underwater for twenty minutes.

Kurt could take a gander around the bottom of the lake until the his CO2 replaced the air in the lung and forced an accent up to the surface. Young Kurt and his boyhood friends would drag the apparatus to the lake in a wheel barrel, much to the chagrin of the local preacher who thought there was something wrong with the boy. The priest actually asked Kurt’s father to stop the boy from continuing his excursions under the lake, asking why, after all, God made all the world and its beautiful lands for humans to walk upon and enjoy, why does this boy insist on going underwater in the lake? Kurt’s father, who was himself an accomplished photographer and mountaineer, smiled and said, “Why not? The boy is not hurting anyone, and he may just find out something interesting.”

Indeed, the boy Kurt who wanted to emulate his father’s adventurous life, continued to aim for terrain not high in the mountains, but in the opposite direction -- below the water’s surface for the rest of his career, to explore the mysterious and captivating scenery and life under the sea.

The Business of Diving
Eventually, Kurt became properly certified as a diver and instructor after completing a four-year degree in professional photography. After diving in the Red Sea and living in Kenya and the Bahamas, he returned to Switzerland to open a small dive school with his ...

Download the article to read the full story â–ş A talk with Kurt Amsler

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