An Open Letter to Underwater
Photographers with Images of Sharks
Dear Underwater Image Maker:
there's an old saying that goes, "Nothing is impossible for he who does not have to do it himself". I think this phrase nicely sums up why the work of so many talented underwater photographers never sees the light of day: people who have never tried taking pictures of the marine environment while flowing through it imagine that doing so is as simple as using their point-and-click Polaroids at family gatherings. It's not surprising, then, that most terrestrials assume that in order to capture good-quality shark images, all one has to do is go where the sharks are and shoot as many pictures as needed.
Having tried and failed for many years to become a decent underwater photographer, I realize that capturing exceptional underwater images is a great deal harder than the apparent abundance of them makes it seem and that good images of free-swimming sharks are harder to come by than squid lips.
In a sea of shark-themed websites, Anne and I have worked very hard to make ours something interesting, useful, and truly special. I have done my best to present the most accurate, up-to-date and interesting information about these animals and invested countless hours into creating all the original illustrations. Anne slaved away over many evenings and week-ends to assemble all my raw material into a website that 'works' as a smoothly functioning whole. We're both very proud of the cyberplace we've made.
But there's no doubt that our website could be made even more valuable and much more attractive if we had use of some really first-rate, non-cliché shark images. Anne is just beginning to hone her skills as an underwater photographer. Already she's technically better than I ever was and shows a far finer sense of compositional niceties. But she's really not at a point where she feels confident enough about her images to share them with the Cyberspace World.
If you have some images of free-swimming sharks of which you're proud and that you might be willing to let us use in our webpages, we can offer you the following: 1) you retain full rights and title to your images, 2) you will be identified by name in the caption (and elsewhere, if feasible) as the photographer, 3) your or your company's E-mail address or website will be hyperlinked to your name in the caption and other credits, 3) original material will be created specifically to showcase the scientific and artistic value of your images, and 4) we are always on the look-out for talented underwater photographers to help us document our research in the field.
We realize that it's not much to make up for uncountable hours of freezing your butt off waiting for that once-in-a-career photo opportunity to swim by. Perhaps contributing in a meaningful way to what is easily one of the absolute finest shark-themed websites ever will give you some worthwhile measure of pride. Or maybe having your images showcased in what we hope is a splendid and worthwhile place may bring you greater recognition and cachet among photo editors or agencies.
No matter what your motivation, we are confident that our partnering with talented underwater image-makers can only reflect well on everyone involved.
If any of this sounds appealing to you, please contact me so that we might properly discuss your terms and conditions as well as work out mutually workable logistics.
— R. Aidan Martin
Director, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research