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.
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.