From a very young age I was fascinated by animals and was always reading wildlife books or glued to the TV watching wildlife documentaries. When I was about 10 years old I watched the original Jaws film. I know that these films were enough to put some people off of going in the sea for life but I was left thinking wow – wouldn’t it be cool to see a Great White one day.
My parents also helped as they knew that Jaws didn’t necessarily portray sharks as they really were so they brought me a book “Great Shark Stories” by Ron and Valerie Taylor who were very famous for their work on sharks and contributed massively towards the films in terms of the real footage that was used and how the animators needed to design the shark for the films.
In August 2010 I took myself off to Cape Town in South Africa. While there I took an introduction to Scuba Diving course and booked myself on to a Great White cage diving trip. The trip ran out to Dyer Island and shark alley which is world famous as being one of if not the biggest Great White hotspots in the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework and went out of season which meant after a very long drive and a long day at sea I still hadn’t seen a Great White.
Upon my return to the dive shop my instructor asked me how it was. He could see the disappointment on my face when I told him I didn’t see one so he made a suggestion. He said finish my Open Water dive certification as I was half way there with the introduction course that I did which was a pre requirement to go cage diving. When I had completed my course he presented me with my certificate and told me to go to the Waterfront Aquarium and ask for one of his friends and said that he had a surprise for me. I turned up and found the guy I needed to speak to who then took me off to a cupboard to find me some dive gear. When I asked him where we were diving he replied “I’m putting you in the main tank with the Ragged Tooth sharks!”. I’m not going to lie – I was a bit nervous but was also grinning from ear to ear at the same time. He briefed me on how to behave and what to look out for and we dropped in. From that moment I knew it wouldn’t be my last shark dive, I was hooked!
My journey in to photography
My interest in photography began when I took a mixed Art & Design course at East Berkshire Collage (BTEC National Diploma) where I was able to specialize in the subject in my second year. After graduating my work path changed direction and I moved to Germany to pursue a career in television.Upon my return I worked part time as a journalist & photographer for Wakeboard Magazine and also wrote and shot pictures for the occasional water sports article in university magazines and restaurant reviews in the local papers. Apart from this my photography remained mostly a hobby where I would try to shoot when I could.
After gaining qualifications as a PADI Divemaster and an Advanced Diploma in Marine Zoology my journey in to shark diving and underwater photography began. From then on I spent my spare time travelling to spectacular diving locations and volunteering for different marine organizations such as White Shark Projects in South Africa and the Whale Shark Research Programme in the Maldives.
A few years ago I met Shark Expert “Eli Martinez”, he set up Shark Diver Magazine which used to run as a printed publication. Through the magazine he started running expeditions to dive with the large predatory species of sharks in the best places in the world to see them. I have been a regular on his trips over the last four years and these excursions have enabled me to learn a lot about many species of marine animals whilst also enhancing my skills as an underwater photographer.
My underwater images have won a few competitions on Viewbug and I have had some of my work featured in calendars, articles and websites of different Marine Science Charities & Organizations such as: sharks4kids.com (Sharky education for kids and teachers), earthtouchnews.com (earth touch news network) and marinecsi.org (marine conservation science institute).
I think that it is important for the general public to be aware of the many aspects of marine conservation. A lot of people sit there eating things like tuna and prawns and have no idea about the dangers of over fishing and the rising levels of mercury and other contaminants that are finding its way in to our food through ocean pollution. If the general public made small changes like buying fish from sustainable food sources, it would make a huge difference to the health of our fish populations. People don’t understand that having an unhealthy ocean eco system can severely affect our life as land dwellers, since a well balanced and health ocean is very important to the overall life of our planet.I am and have always been a lover of sharks and one of the issues closest to my heart is the un necessary death of thousands of sharks due to finning. It sickens me to know how many sharks are loosing their life daily all for the sake of a bowl of tasteless soup that only serves to increase the status of the consumer!
I am looking forward to working with sea changers as I am keen to help out organizations like this that do great work to research and help protect our marine environment.The ocean and the animals in it are very important to me as I save all my money to travel the world and learn more about and photograph these wonderful creatures. I hope that my images will intrigue and inspire people to learn more about these animals and what they can do to help them. It is also nice to receive recognition and promotion for my photography while helping a good cause at the same time.
All the fantastic images in this blog are used with the kind permission of Chris Knight and subject to copyright.