Maddie Hayes

I’m Maddie, a film photographer based on O’ahu. 
I’ve been shooting film for almost three years now, and it’s been quite the adventure. 
Having roots in Hawai’i, I’ve always felt a deep connection to the ocean. I started getting into freediving in 2020 and then started shooting film (on land) in 2021. 

I fell in love with both, and when I discovered that I could combine the two, I was hooked. I’ve been shooting film underwater on my Nikonos V since 2022. 

Every time I pick up my camera and put on my wetsuit, fins, and mask, it feels freeing and exciting — like there’s a whole other world out there to explore. I love the simplicity. 
Just you and your camera in the big blue.

Film photography and freediving both require you to slow down and be present, and that’s what I love about them both. You are in your own little world for a moment, creating compositions and adjusting settings all on a single breath.

I’ve been so lucky to experience and photograph some amazing wildlife interactions — swimming with humpback whales, spinner dolphins, pilot whales, and different species of sharks, rays, and sea turtles. 

Film is such a beautiful medium because each shot is so intentional and pure. I love that I get to take a photo and then put my camera aside to just enjoy the moment. 

My favorite experience so far was a morning where I spent nearly three hours in the water with a mother humpback whale and her calf. Observing their bond up close and earning their trust was an emotional and life-changing moment. 
I’m so excited to continue exploring and photographing our 
beautiful underwater world.