Sharks, the enigmatic creatures of the deep, have fascinated and intrigued humans for centuries. While there are various ways to appreciate their magnificence, photographing them while freediving allows for a unique perspective and an up-close encounter with these underwater marvels. In this article, Peter Marshall, freediving ocean photographer and co-founder of AGULHAS, shares the exhilarating world of underwater shark photography, offering practical tips, insights, and the firsthand experiences
1. Understanding the Environment:
Before setting out on your underwater shark photography journey, it’s essential to have a solid grasp of the underwater environment. Knowing the specific species of sharks you’ll encounter, their behaviour patterns, and the dive location will help you plan your approach. Researching their natural habitat and preferred hunting grounds will increase your chances of capturing those breathtaking moments.
2. Safety First:
Photographing sharks demands utmost respect for their power and unpredictability. Always prioritise your safety and that of the sharks when engaging in freediving activities. Adhere to local regulations, receive proper training, and dive with experienced professionals when necessary. Remember, capturing stunning images is a thrill, but it should never compromise your well-being or harm marine life.
3. Mastering Freediving Techniques:
Freediving skills are crucial when photographing sharks. Enhancing your breath-holding capabilities, perfecting buoyancy control, and honing your swimming techniques will significantly contribute to capturing that perfect shot. Practise regularly and gradually increase your breath-hold duration and depths to improve your confidence underwater.
4. Choose the Right Gear:
Selecting the appropriate equipment is vital to achieve high-quality shark photographs. Consider investing in a reliable underwater camera or a dedicated housing for your existing camera. Depending on what you want to photograph, a good place to start is a wide-angle lens to capture the grandeur of these magnificent creatures. When a shark comes in to investigate it is always nice to have enough lens to capture these close encounters.
5. Composition and Lighting:
Creating visually striking photographs requires attention to composition and lighting. Aim to capture the unique characteristics of each shark species by framing them in a compelling way. Utilise natural light to your advantage, keeping in mind that different depths will influence the colours and intensity. Experiment with angles, perspectives, and use the surrounding marine environment to add depth and interest to your images.
6. Patience and Respect:
Shark photography demands patience and respect for wild animals. Avoid sudden movements or actions that may startle or stress the sharks. By giving them space and demonstrating respect, you increase the chances of capturing their authentic behaviour and expressions.
Photographing sharks while freediving is a thrilling and awe-inspiring adventure that offers a unique perspective into the underwater world. By combining an understanding of their behaviour, mastering freediving techniques, and using the right gear, you can capture breathtaking images that showcase the magnificence of these creatures. Remember, though, that safety, respect, and responsible practices should always guide your journey, ensuring a memorable and thought-provoking experience for both you and the sharks.
Peter Marshall: “Diving with sharks very quickly demystifies the Jaws-like expectations many people have, and as you continue to dive with sharks you begin to realise how curious and beautiful they are. The best part is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a pro or in a cage or dressed in chainmail (it’s very hard to freedive in chainmail by the way.) All you need is a mask, snorkel, some fins, and a bit of freediving practice.
So, go for it, and let your camera become a window to the mesmerising world of sharks beneath the surface. Happy diving and photographing!