Book Review: Small Blue World – Massive Imagination


Small Blue World coverHaving followed Jason Isley’s work on the Small Blue World Facebook site for some time now, this was another eagerly awaited book that we were looking forward to delving into. It is a compact hardback packed with imagination, humour, excellent photography, marine life and conservation messages. So what it is all about?

Set over 200 years in the future, Climate Change has caused devastation to planet earth and mankind has had to take to a life underwater to survive the rising sea levels. At first, the tiny people that inhabit Small Blue World are determined to conquer the initial life that they encounter, fearful of these strange creatures that they encounter for the first time. This first chapter depicts this conflict with images of soldiers battling scary eels, bobbit worms and blue ring octopus. In time, humans learn that they will only survive by “living in Harmony” with the marine life they now share their lives with. This wonderful chapter depicts a more day to day story of home life, holiday adventures and work-day tasks in the new underwater utopia. The final chapter is a masterpiece called “The Future” where Jason depicts humans falling back into their old ways and ruining the environment they live in. From toxic waste being dumped to dynamite fishing, the tiny humans in Small Blue World ruin everything. These are by far the most potent and thought provoking images on current marine issues that I have ever seen and they make up a superb final chapter.

Jason Isley

Jason Isley

Each image gives the reader a bit of knowledge about the marine creature depicted with the tiny humans, so as well as telling his apocalyptic story, Jason also hands out snippets of information to enhance the narrative.

The imagination and hard work that have gone into making this book is incredible. Each image must have taken a great deal of time to capture. Finding the models, adapting them not to float away, thinking of the marine life and dive site to get the perfect shot to tell each story, and then actually getting in the water and getting the right conditions to nail the shot – it is hard to comprehend the work involved. Having spent many an hour frustratingly trying to photograph mating mandarin fish, we can only imagine how long getting this one shot took to get. All we can say is that it was worth it.

Small Blue World

Peeping Tom

The foreword is written by “Her Deepness” Sylvia Earle and it is hard to beat what she has written:

“In this book, skilled photographer and storyteller Jason Isley artfully combines fact with fantasy, whimsy with reality, and mischievous fun with serious messages, yielding a captivating journey among little-known creatures of the sea where humans are the diminutive visitors.”

If we have one complaint about the book, it is that is left us badly wanting more. We greedily digested the images and text on the pages of Small Blue World, and now wish we had more! Perhaps this is deliberate, and a second volume is already planned?! For now, you will have to make do with this wonderful book that packs a heavy weight punch with its tiny inhabitants. We are already having fun deliberating on which is our favourite image in each chapter. It will make a great present for the diver who has everything. Underwater photographers will love it too. But the best thing is that even for those that have never dived, this is a book that will please any reader, of any age and, we hope, will make them want to get behind the conservation messages at the end of the book.

Small Blue World: Little People. Big Adventures by Jason Islay is published on 28th April, £12.99 (Michael O’Mara, hardback) and is available for pre-order 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

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