Scuba diving at Oak Park Beach, Cronulla, Sydney

Twelve months ago I completed my Open Water scuba diver’s certificate. It was something that I have wanted to do for many, many years, and I am very pleased that I finally did it.

scuba diver with underwater camera, over seaweed bed
scuba diver over seaweed bed

I recently had a chance to dive at Oak Park in Cronulla, Sydney. It’s a fascinating and popular dive spot that is relatively easy to access straight from the beach. I dove with a a local group and was “buddied” with a diver who, like me, was also a photographer. So we headed out and spent forty minutes on the bottom photographing the fish life off Oak Park Beach.

I am always surprised by just how “tropical” the fish around Sydney are. And the seemingly never ending variety is quite amazing.

Female blue grouper comes up to check out me and my dive buddy for that day.

The highlight of the dive for me was finally meeting some of Sydney’s famous blue groupers! These fish are HUGE. The males being the biggest, with a striking blue colour, while the females are smaller and a green/brown colour. They are quite comfortable around humans (due to being fed, which is not ideal) and when they spot a diver, will come to investigate and often hang around in the hope of a sea urchin treat!

A male blue grouper hanging around, hoping for a treat of sea urchin
The resident male blue grouper Gus (there is only one male at a time in any given area) hung around, hoping for a treat of sea urchin. When a male blue grouper eventually dies, one of the females with change sex and become the new Gus!

The fish life is so varied – most of which I have never seen, or even know the name of.

These fish stayed close to the rock walls at all times and moved in large highly synchronised schools. I have no idea what they actually are! And fish identification, I have found seems to be even harder than bird identification!

Fish that I have yet to identify – hanging out along the sandstone wall that you follow out from the beach at Oak Park
My dive buddy photographing the “old wives” (Enoplosus armatusthat are very common off Oak Park beach
Another species that I couldn’t identify, doing a great job of camouflaging itself among the plant life on the sandy bottom
“Don’t mind me…” Gus chilling with my dive buddy

If you are a certified scuba diver – or you would like to get your Open Water certification – I am available for adventure bookings, whether it’s a day diving in Sydney, or a week on the Great Barrier Reef, or diving in Fiji. I can am very easy to travel with and will bring you home safe with loads of beautiful photographs of your trip – both above and below the water.

John

Thank you – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all

Another year is drawing to a close and I want to thank everyone who has supported me this year.

It’s been a long and busy year, with some amazing travel – from Iceland, to Fiji, to Kangaroo Island, to New Zealand. Meeting new clients and seeing more of the clients who I have been seeing for as long as seven years! It continues to be an amazing journey with all of you.

Some clients have moved on, their lives taking new – and I hope – fun and fulfilling directions. It is my pleasure and my honour to have known you and I hope that I have been able to add fun and happiness to your life.

I am extraordinarily lucky to be supported in my work by so many generous and wonderful women.

John Oh with camera

This year has seen me launch of a regular short video series on Twitter and Youtube about sex work, aiming to raise awareness of the industry, its benefits, problems, and challenges. It has been a huge challenge putting out a short film every day, but I have learned a lot from the effort and it has brought me into contact with people both inside and outside the industry that I would not have met otherwise.

I intend to keep publishing my “ShortTakes” on sex work into the foreseeable future – but they have also inspired me to do more as a filmmaker and this year I hope to begin publishing a series of educational films about sex and sexuality that are frank and also beautiful.

The year ahead has more exciting travel booked and my diary is filling up, which gives me a sense of security that I cannot thank all of you enough for. The support that you give me has made my life secure and given me opportunities to explore my passion for photography and film making that I have never had in the past.

So in conclusion – thank you! To everyone I am lucky enough to have met this year – clients and peers – I hope you have a wonderful holiday, stay safe, and I look forward to another exciting year with you all!

John.

Stopping to “smell life’s roses”

I’m sure that like me, for most of you reading this, the end of the year is a busy period. This year hasn’t been as bad for me, as I have had some travel to New Zealand to break up the usual end of year busy period.

Franz Joseph glacier – New Zealand

But even with less things to consume our time and attention, it’s still easy to get caught up in being “busy”.

I learned a while ago that I am happiest and most productive if I make a point of not doing any one thing for too long. So each week I try to take a couple of days away from work and my various personal project to do something completely different.

I haven’t been doing much photography for my own pleasure recently, so I decided this week, that I would make the time to look for and photograph some beautiful and interesting landscapes and city scenes. I didn’t have my good camera with me though, but I did have my phone, so while exploring, I shot some images that will remind me to go back to these places in the future and shoot them again properly!

Llankelly Place – Potts Point, Sydney

Southern Highlands creek view

John.

Sydney Harbour – Hermitage Foreshore Walk to Neilsen Park

I got out for a walk today.  Down to Sydney Harbour and along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk to Neilsen Park.  It’s a long time since I have been down that way, so it was lovely, despite the initially cool weather to see the views over the Harbour and walk along the cliffs.

It was very much a “stop and smell the roses” kind of day today.  So I took the camera along with me and made the most of the excursion…

John.

 

 

Enjoying a beautiful day

The last few weeks have been pretty rough for the sex work community world wide.  You may not be aware of this, but the US government has created new laws that make promoting sex work a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Sex work is still decriminalised here in NSW, Australia, but the ripple effect (more like a tidal wave) has effected sex worker even here through uncertainty, the closure of advertising platforms, and the creation of a climate of fear.

It’s been a stressful time watching friends and co-workers, both here and abroad losing their incomes, being persecuted, and generally having a very bad time.

It’s times like this that self care becomes important.  And while you may not be in my industry, I think that the lessons still transfer.  We all encounter stress in our lives and our jobs.  And that stress can be very damaging if we don’t recognise it and give ourselves the time and space to recover from it.

I know that many of my clients come to see me for exactly that reason.  You don’t need to visit a sex worker though – it can be as easy as getting out in the sunshine – which is what I did today, taking my camera with me.  So here are a couple of photos of me from sunny Darlinghurst in Sydney for you.

The Kilt

It was my birthday recently – I turned 46 in case you were wondering!  And I received a present that I had been thinking of since I saw one at Burning Seed last year.

It is a kilt.  It’s black.  It has shinny bits.  It is very cool and it goes really well with my Dr Martens boots…

It’s heaps of fun wearing a kilt in public.  It gets heaps of looks and even comments, so it’s not something to wear if you’re feeling shy!

John.

South Lawson waterfall circuit

Sydney has its problems, but distance from various spectacular natural attractions is not one of them.

I had some time this afternoon, so I decided to take my new camera – and drone out of Sydney and explore nature.  My destination was the South Lawson waterfall circuit.

It’s an hour a little over an hour drive from my place in Olympic Park to Lawson, so it was a convenient destination that is reputed to have some fabulous scenery.  And I have to say – it did not disappoint!

Don’t forget to click each image to see the full size version.

So, if you are contemplating a date with me and would like to take a walk in nature, then just let me know.  There are so many special places to explore in Sydney and close by.

John

 

The Camino Way

St Jean Pied de Port“The Camino de Santiago known in English as The Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups” – from Wikipedia

BiarritzFor those who follow my Twitter account (@JohnOhOfSydney) you will know that I was lucky to be booked by a client to join her for a few days walking The Camino de Santiago from the South of France down into Northern Spain earlier this year.

It was a fabulous trip – filled with beautiful scenery, physical challenge, and the solitude of wild places.

Golden eagle on the French PyreneesI am not a religious or spiritual person, but you don’t need to be to enjoy this trek and to grow as a person from the experience. I had the opportunity to practice my photography skills along the way and I can say that the scenery was truly stunning – like nothing that I have ever experienced. I love Australia and the Australian landscape, but I have always had a strong reaction to the deep and vivid greens of European lands and forest.

Camino way Pyrenees forestSomething that surprised me was discovering that there was very little animal life – other than domestic animals – as we walked over the French Pyrenees Mountains. There was some bird life (including golden eagles which were most impressive), but I literally didn’t see a wild animal until we reached Pamplona – and that was a solitary red squirrel.

The food in southern France and Northern Spain was surprising to me. It was probably the biggest cultural difference from Australia. The local food was very limited in its variety. A lot of bread, cured meat, and cheese – and quiche! I love all of those things, but you can have too much of a good thing…

Lunch at OrissonIt emphasised to me how much Australia has benefited from migrant culture. We have such diversity in the food available to us on any given day on in any place. There will always be Asian food, European food, American food – the list goes on. And our fresh produce is, I think, second to none in the world, and that makes a huge difference to the quality of dishes.

The walking itself was serious and requires preparation. The first day from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles is approximately 27kms. Forest path near RoncesvallesIt would be a long walk just on flat ground, but this part of the trip climbs 1,200 meters over the French Pyrenees and down another 500 meters into northern Spain. It’s a walk that many people split over two days rather than one, but we did the whole thing in one go. It was quite an achievement and a spectacular experience.

For anyone contemplating this walk, I would definitely recommend that you take your time. Don’t rush to get to your next destination. Walk slowly. Stop often. Look around. Take lots of photographs.

There is always another days walk ahead, but taking the time to really enjoy where you are (and will likely never be again!) is invaluable.

If you are contemplating a trip and would like a companion for your travels, then please seem my Travel Page for rates and conditions.

John.

Parsley Bay – Sydney

Sydney in spring can be just glorious.

In the spirit of urban exploration yesterday I visited Parsley Bay, a place I never even knew existed until recently.  It’s a quiet little harbour side bay that is home to beautiful waters – and water dragons and stingrays!).


It’s still a little cold in the water, but it made for a pleasant hour or two sitting in the shade admiring the view and photographing the scenery – you can click on any of these images to see the full sized version.

As the weather warms up (and the water too!) I will definitely have to come back for a swim in this delightful little spot – and hopefully see some stingrays!

There are some lovely overhanging rock features.


Definitely time for a haircut…


John.