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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Jillian Morris Brake

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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: Jillian Morris Brake.

I am a marine biologist, shark conservationist, photographer and founder of Sharks4Kids. I live in the Bahamas with my husband and adopted pit bull. The ocean inspires me and is always where I go to reconnect. Photography is a beautiful way to be a voice for the oceans. I love sharing my shark photography and use it as a critical educational tool. I am a PADI Ambassadiver and proud to share my story with other people around the world. I hope my story inspires other women and young girls who are interested in marine science, sharks, diving…etc. I want them to know these careers are for them too. It was an honor to be named as an ocean hero by Scuba Diving Magazine and be listed in several articles alongside some of the incredible women who have inspired my career. Creating Sharks4Kids is my proudest accomplishment and it’s been an incredible journey. Writing my first children’s book, Norman the Nurse Shark was also an amazing experience. My life revolves around sharks and I feel so lucky to be living my passion.

You can follow my adventure on Instagram and twitter @BiminiSharkGirl and Sharks4Kids on twitter @Sharks4Kids and Instagram @SharkEducation


NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

JMB: My mom always took a lot of photos when I was growing up and I was fascinated by her camera. When I was in high school I started using her camera and really enjoyed it. As I started to travel for various internships and research projects, I decided to get an underwater camera setup. I bought a Sony in an Ikelite housing from a friend and the adventure began. I started by photographing flamingo tongues. They are beautiful and they cannot swim away from you. I have no professional training, but have just kept shooting and always learning.

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

JMB: I really loved my Nikon D80. It was my first DSLR and it was amazing. I loved the challenge of learning how to make the camera do what your mind envisions. The first lens I purchased was the Tokina 10-17 and it’s still my favorite lens.

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

JMB: Shoot! Shoot Shoot Shoot! The more you shoot the more you learn. Practice really does make perfect. Also, learn your camera topside first. It will help you make the camera do what you want once it’s in the housing and underwater.

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

JMB: I am most proud of the images that make me happy. They captured a moment I want to remember forever, and they always make me smile.

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

JMB: I love Bimini. So lucky to live in this incredible place and have remarkable wildlife to photography any day of the week. Sharks are my favorite thing to photograph.

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

JMB: I love the challenge of capturing a moment as it happens naturally. I know this is not always possible, especially if you are shooting for a client. The magic of photography is being in the right place at the right time and capturing an incredible moment.

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

JMB: I look for cool angles and a unique way to share the story. How can I capture the “personality” of an animal? Does it look like a smile or a laugh? I think it’s fun to show a side people might not think of.  I also just take in the moment and see what happens. If you try to force something, it never comes out the way you envision it.

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

JMB: I believe in the power of images and their ability to tell a story. I want people to see sharks for their beauty. I use images to turn fear into fascination. I want people to see the ocean and sharks the way I do. Images help us change the conversation.

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

JMB: I really want to photograph Greenland sharks. They are fascinating, and I really want to dive with one.

To see more of Jillian Morris Brake’s work click here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 3

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somabay

Today we are diving one of the outer reefs from an inflatable. As we reach the bottom, a reef octopus eases its way into the cover of a small crack in the coral while displaying it’s incredible ability to change colour. They are arguably one of the most charismatic of reef dwellers and it is always exciting for me to simply hover and watch. I would have spent longer and waited for it to come and investigate me, but as dive time is limited we wanted to move on and find a turtle.

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The waters around Somabay are well protected and hold a rich variety of marine life. The reef edges are thriving colonies of coral and shoaling fish, while nearer the sea bed plenty of wildlife is still to be found.

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Then we located the turtles. They are very used to divers and so show little concern when slowly approached. In fact occasionally one will come over to see what you are doing. There is always huge excitement when diving with a turtle. The shear thrill of sharing a moment with another species.

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What a fantastic way to finish a wonderful few days diving and I would like to thank SOMABAY, ORCA DIVING and THE BREAKERS for making my stay such a good one.

I had a great time, with diving everyday either on the house reef or on one of the offshore reefs by inflatable or larger day boat. Orca diving provided high quality equipment and facilities while the staff were all very friendly and welcoming. The Breakers was right on the coast with nice rooms, good food and once again friendly staff making the whole trip a real pleasure.

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Soma Bay covers an entire peninsula and is home to several resorts as well as residential  compounds.

As well as scuba diving, Somabay caters for many other sports and activities, and so is perfect for families as well as individuals and/or groups. And of course there is always time to lay peacefully on the beach under the Egyptian sun.

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Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 2

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Day three of my trip to Somabay and we were spending the day on the Lady Christina and diving on the wreck of the Salem Express.

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Diving wrecks for me is always one of mixed emotions. The excitement of diving a wreck is more than often tempered by the thought of loss of life when she sank. The Salem Express was a passenger ship and a roll-on/roll-off ferry travelling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Safaga, Egypt. Most passengers were of poor class travelling home from their holidays while around 150 people were returning home from their pilgrimage to Mecca.

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The ship struck a reef and sank within 20 minutes. Passengers were trapped below deck and the ship was filled with fear and panic.

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The wreck area is strewn with personal belongings from the crew and passengers such as a transistor radio and a flat iron for clothes. A diver at sometime has put them in a prominent place to be seen.

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Tragically only one life boat was launched while the others went down with the ship. More than 600 men, women and children lost their lives here.

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It’s a stark reminder that the sea can be unforgiving and so when we dive on such wrecks we should do so with humble regard.

Returning to the surface, shoals of fish are gathered under our boat and seem to be welcoming us back into the light.

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Back at the Breakers I sat in the dining area with a beer and a very good meal while my thoughts still remained with the day’s dive on the Salem Express.

Check in for part 3 tomorrow for Jeff’s last day of diving with Somabay on the off-shore reefs looking for turtles.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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