Some passions really drive a person crazy. I didn’t even realize how badly I was infected with the blue water bug. Even during my initial diving lessons in Srilanka, I was always carrying my camera trying to capture whatever comes my way. I had just finished my advance open watercourse and was about to fly back to India. I read about some shipwreck dive sites at Colombo and a few specialty courses available to dive on wrecks. That decision also was so instant that I wanted to shoot those wrecks and I cancelled my flight and took up the wreck specialty course. Over few months I was actively browsing the net about diving opportunities. All I knew is that I just wanted to shoot, shoot and shoot without any reason.
I started focusing more on underwater photography. By then, I had collected a lot of data about dive sites across the globe and just wanted to dive and shoot. I came across a world war ll wreck site at Bali and some of the world’s best dive sites at Komodo Island. This is when my entire perspective about dives and underwater photography changed from just mere adventure to love and care for the oceans and its marine life. The dive masters and the divers around were extremely concerned about practicing safe dives and protecting the reefs and marine life from damaging. I learnt a lot from all dive masters and buddies on my dives.
This addiction soon led me to pursue deep dive courses and technical diving, as I wanted to explore deeper depth that was not possible during recreational diving. To photograph the wreck of HMS Hermes – a world war 11 aircraft carrier was my main reason to take up technical diving as the wreck is submerged beyond depths of 140 ft. I almost had a near death experience during one of my technical dives while penetrating inside the wreck. This didn’t stop me from underwater photography but made my more confident and stronger as I had to learn from my mistakes.
Soon, Sharks, whales and shipwrecks fascinated me. Getting in the water and capturing the ocean’s most intimidating predator- The Great white shark was on the top of my bucket list followed by whales and crocodiles. This soon happened when i planned a trip to witness one of the greatest shoals on earth, “The Sardine Run” at South Africa. I just had very few dive logs and had never seen a whale ever. I was also not prepared for such rough sea conditions. The first ever blow out of the water and the size of the whale actually made me skip a heartbeat and getting into the water just a few feet close to them was actually nerve wracking. They are such gentle creatures weighing almost 40 ton and couldn’t even imagine that I was in the water swimming and taking pictures of them. Every time I looked at the pictures I was very greedy for more and more. This got me extremely addicted to photograph the whales across the globe and soon started planning my trip to shoot the whales and sharks.
I realized that my fantasies were weird and wild. All I wanted was just to take a picture of a whale few feet away, a picture inside a mouth of a great white shark and crocodile, getting close and shooting feeding frenzy bull sharks etc. I soon planned a trip to Tonga, Fiji and Guadalupe Island to witness and shoot these creatures. I also realized that I was so badly addicted to underwater photography, I never had the fear or anxiety of getting into the water, but with only a hope of getting that one shot which I had dreamt.
As I started diving frequently and shooting the marine life, I had developed that immense love and concern for the oceans. Not many people realize that the world’s oceans are under major threat due to unsustainable fishing, pollution, coral bleaching etc. As an underwater photographer I strongly feel that underwater photography is a fantastic medium to visually communicate the beauty of oceans and its life, which can help, and change the way people see nature and in-turn care for it.
The beauty, magnificence and mystery of the oceans and the urge to get that one great shot has inspired me to pursue underwater photography as my career and my passion for it has actually been the backbone to venture into this beautiful world.
There’s also so much that gets into shooting underwater- Diving skills, Practice, Courage, Challenges, Fitness, Patience, Concentration, Knowledge about oceans and its life, Education, Conservation etc. Now I wonder where the hell did I get all these. Thanks to Underwater photography,
Ajit S N