The StoryAboutShayne Thomas

Photo by MelliLoveLight

People often ask me where I come from. My accent is hard to place and is not really from anywhere – but actually, its a combination of things. I was born in South Africa in 1990, in a small little town in the Transkei. In 1997 my dad was offered a job flying for Air Mauritius (Pilot) and so before I knew it – we were on our way to the tropical island.

I spent the next 15 years growing up in Mauritius in an extremely multi-cultural environment, both amongst my friends and in the general public. During High School, I completed my PADI Dive master course where I fell entirely head-over-heels with the underwater world. So much so that I desperately wanted to show my friends & family this new “world”. What better way than to use the medium of photography?

As a bit of a geek, it didn’t take me long to dive into self-taught lessons on all aspects of cameras, compositions, styles. I brought this new-found-love of photography to the surface where I was shooting surfing, kite surfing and the occasional random project. With this, I slowly got noticed in Mauritius and landed my first paid gigs. Awesome!

One thing with islands, besides being immensely beautiful & an incredible place to grow up, they do get… small. I grew tired of Mauritius. I got over the same places, the same people, the same everything. It was until the end of 2010 where I finally decided to move on. But guess where?

To another island. Yes. I know. I moved to Zanzibar (Tanzania). I initially went to Zanzibar with an intention to leave after some time but little did I know that my life would change so much in those 3 years I spent there that it pretty much equaled the 15 years in Mauritius in terms of how much changed.

After 3 days of being in Zanzibar I was offered a job managing a small Diving Center where my job was to take guests out on dive excursions and conduct some basic courses. It was an absolute dream! Photography was still very much by my side, and kept the passion for the craft alive by shooting as much variations of things as I could (Portraits, Hotels, Weddings, Commercial gigs etc..). Though Photography was not my main source of income, it was so great to feel important on the island. In 2011, July, my birthday… I had a Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung).

Now most people would blame the diving; and I would have too. But the fact that the last dive I did before I had the accident was approximately 6 weeks (low season), it was unlikely to be the cause. The doctors said they really couldn’t figure it out and that they did read somewhere (These were British volunteer doctors on the island) that it could happen to Tall white Males..spontaneously. So… yeah. That was great… #not.

It dawned on me that I had to say good bye. Not to the island. Not to people. But.. to diving. My career pretty much came to a full stop. But being positive, even through the worst of times, i quickly realised the truth in the saying that “when one door closes; another opens”. I had my photography. and I loved it!

From there on, I focused entirely on photography. I limited what I was shooting down to Weddings, Hotels, Portraits & Kite Surfing. The 4 things I held the biggest interest in and before I knew it, I was racking up a portfolio & being sent all over the island.

In 2012 I first met Melanie. In Zanzibar. She came to the island as a tourist and on her last night, we met. We stayed in touch and I remember noticing just how much color she brought to this already saturated island. In 2013 she returned and as if we were in a relationship for 5+ years already, we immediately fired everything back up. In April of this year, I decided to make probably the second biggest change in my life (first being moving to Zanzibar).

I left the tropics of Africa and flew directly to Finland, where Melli was commissioned at the time. Talk about a drastic climate change? Oh yeah. +30 degrees to -20 degrees in like..24 hours. First time I ever saw / touched snow too! After spending a year in Finland together, and running my brand new commercial photography business, we had to move to Germany. Work reasons.

So here I am now. In Germany. With the girl of my dreams, a dog I love like a child, a Wedding Photography business as well as this… my labour of love. My commercial photography. And Im loving it! (McDonalds… wheres my pay check?).