Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Zac Macaulay

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In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Zac Macaulay

ZM: I am a lighting underwater cameraman and photographer shooting film sequences for dramas, feature films, music videos, TV and commercials for advertising agencies and the movie industry. My inspiration is great imagery which is truly been thought about and crafted.

I live in Brighton with my wife and three kids (now teenagers) but was originally from Richmond in Surrey. When I was small my father and I (who lived in Swanage in Dorset) used to stare at the big burly divers venturing into the water and I knew somehow I wanted a part of that.

I started in photography specialising in underwater work from 16 years old signing up to several Martin Edge photography courses and getting my first major professional break in 1997 when Diesel Jeans asked me to shoot a worldwide campaign for them.

On top of that Steve Weinman and Diver Magazine have been extremely kind, sending me all over the world shooting wildlife and allowing me to hone my eye over the years practicing my craft as well as lounging about on some really fabulous beaches.

Since then I have shot loads of campaigns all over the world for clients as diverse as Guinness, The Royal Ballet, Take That, Myleene Klass for Littlewoods, The Disney Channel, Pantene Pro V, Fit Bit, The British Army, The BBC and The National Lottery amongst others.

Artist Statement

I consider myself a team player and like to use a strong graphic element in my photographic and film style, using colour and composition as a thread that runs through my work.

As a lighting underwater cameraman and photographer I enjoy the craft of shooting and lighting underwater and the extra dimension the medium gives you. Whether it be in the open sea, an underwater studio or pool for ultimate control, all present different and interesting challenges, but always enjoyable.

There is no secret to success in anything done well. Its just hard work, focus and a gene or two from your grandparents.

Water allows me to have space to shoot creatively and in three dimensions like no other medium.

Finally my aim is to make it much more interesting…

Awards

I have won three international awards for my work including the prestigious Winner, Palme d’Or, Advertising category for best stills image, Antibes Underwater Film and Photography festival.


NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

ZM: I started when I was 16 learning to dive and running my interest in photography alongside. I soon found a job in a London advertising studio making the tea and asked who was the best underwater photographer at the time. Mike Portelly came back the answer, so I called him 100 times till he gave me a job.

NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?

ZM: Today I own and shoot with a Nikon D800 and Seacam housing for stills, and a Seacam / Panasonic GH5 and Red Epic Dragon / Gates Deep Weapon housing for film.

My oldest and proudest working system is one of 10 Peter Scoones built housings for a Mamiya RB 67 roll film camera. On 220 film you can have as many as 20 exposures up your sleeve!

NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

ZM: Enter it as an exciting hobby that will take you all over the world. Professionally underwater photography today is very challenging and extremely difficult to make a living from if you have a mortgage and family.

NRB: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

ZM: Mike Portelly

NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?

ZM: My ad for Diesel because it launched my career.

NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?

ZM: Cuba, well yes and no, great Rum and a travellers destination.

NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?

ZM: Personally I haven’t done it.

NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?

ZM: Learn to see and not just to look.

NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

ZM: It’s in the blood, the 3 dimensional movement the calmness and the creative buzz from doing something difficult.

NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?

I would go back to Sipadan in Malaysia.

To see more of Zac’s work click here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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