A love story
After the rain the current often carries debris, and here in Hawaii, it is not uncommon to see big red leaves floating barely underwater. I’ll let you in on a secret. Sharks LOVE leaves! And if you spot the leaf before them you can predict with decent precision when they will change behavior and quickly change course to swim up and rub their snout on it. That’s one of my favorite subjects to photograph. The sharks don’t open their mouths to taste the leaf in a behavior that from a photographer’s perspective looks like simple curiosity.
I obsess over the wrinkles that appear on sharks’ skin whenever they bend or when they lift the nictitating membrane to protect their eyes. Underwater photography is often powered by chance until you photograph the same subject over and over, day after day. At that point, a world of small, perfect imperfections opens up and all you want is to get a little closer, to focus your camera on a scar, or a wrinkle. To take a photo of a look that one specific shark keeps giving you. The sharks of Hawaii will never look like just sharks to me.
Bahamas wreck diving
The ocean in the Bahamas was a pleasant surprise. Colorful, full of life, and the sharks. Oh, so many sharks and so many different species. Freediving in an ocean so plentiful made photography so exciting and almost overwhelming. This wreck was sitting miles away from the shoreline with no land in sight. I was testing out some new gear, a new camera, and a wider lens, and as I dove down to take a photo of the wreck structure covered in fish this gold nurse shark swam up from under what was left of this old boat. She looked like art more than an animal. Gently and slowly she swam along the edge of the wreck to then slip underneath the metal bars again. I still think about how different this ocean was and how all it takes is to have a healthy population of sharks to make the ecosystem really thrive.
The beauty behind the fear
It's hard to take a position on how sharks are viewed in the world, nowadays. The world went from an era of blind fear for sharks and is now slowly transitioning to just blind admiration, but I wish everyone could hold on to a little bit of both with knowledge and respect. I love sharks, and shark photography is my life. I respect them for the predators they are and if I told you I’m never nervous and cautious, I would be lying because sharks are so cool and so beautiful but still very capable apex predators. To coexist and be able to work in the water with sharks every day I had to learn to know when to get out of the water. Every look carries a message, and every body movement and behavior holds a whole language. Learning how to read that language took me a long time but made me a more respectful diver and a better photographer and I’m honored to be able to share those moments with you.