The ocean and the creatures that inhabit the underwater world are beautiful. Fortunately, our Blue Ocean Network includes talented photographers and videographers who capture breathtaking imagery that help tell the story about life below the surface. As part of Nature Photography Day, we want to showcase our Blue Ocean Summit photographer and videographer alumni, who are so critical in sharing ocean conservation messages in a way that resonates with millions around the world.
“If we can’t protect manta rays, the most magnificent and gentle of underwater creatures, then I don’t think we can protect anything. Mantas are like angels sent to us as one final test to see what we are willing to save,” ~ Shawn Heinrichs
Shawn Heinrichs is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, photographer, and marine conservationist. He has worked with leading journalists and film teams including CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Yann Arthus Bertrand, and National Geographic, and delivered projects for many of the top marine conservation organizations including WildAid, Shark Savers, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and Pew Environment Group. His award-winning work has been featured with National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Post, WIRED and numerous other print and online publications. Shawn serves on the International Board of WildAid, on the Board of Shark Savers, is an Associate Director of Manta Trust, and an Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
“The environmental organizations have communicated a lot that the planet’s in trouble. But the planet’s not in trouble, it’s gonna survive this extinction […] it’s what’s on it that’s not going to.” ~ Jonah Bryson
Hailed as “A Talented Young Voice” by Oscar®-winning director Louie Psihoyos, Jonah Bryson is an award-winning film director and musician. After receiving an award sponsored by Prince Albert II Of Monaco, at the age of 14, Jonah co-directed The Fight for Bala with Sharkwater director Rob Stewart, which was released with The Huffington Post and National Geographic.
Bryson is the first-ever recipient of the Rob Stewart Award, which he received at the Hot Docs Cinema from television celebrity George Stroumboulopoulos. The award is in honor of his late friend and mentor, Rob Stewart, who died in a scuba diving accident in 2017.
Jonah is currently in production on a feature documentary with undersea explorer and producer Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. As a talented young musician, Jonah is additionally working on another documentary about film scoring.
“I believe in the power of imagery to motivate stewardship and protection of the fragile underwater world. It is equally important to connect with the indigenous peoples of the world – man is, in fact, a part of nature.” ~ Michele Westmorland
Michele Westmorland is a prolific underwater photographer and well-respected Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). (Click on Michele’s image for a photo gallery). Her years of diving and leading dive tourism groups all over the world have made her an active proponent of marine conservation issues and marine education. Michele has to admit it’s getting harder and harder to take a pristine reef photo that magazines will want to print. “How do we tell divers the reefs are in peril when we don’t show the true story?” Michele has worked with scientists of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation on its Global Reef Expedition to French Polynesia: Her conservation photography skills were used to bring the science and the state of coral reefs to life, with her compelling images offering a medium to help save French Polynesia’s coral reefs. An image (left) from that trip “What if the earth were made of coral” has one several awards.
Michele has created a vast library of imagery from around the world and is especially passionate about ocean issues and sustainable diving. Her underwater and cultural photography has gained international recognition. Michele understands the need to tell a visual story, whether it covers exotic locations or the wonders of the natural world. Her photo book “Ocean Duets” was published in 2006 and is focused on the beauty of the underwater world. Michele won the 2016 ILCP Fellow of the Year Award for her documentary film and book project, Headhunt Revisited, which is currently in post-production.
“We have the greatest opportunity in history to do something right, to right the wrongs, to be a hero, to save ecosystems, to create a world that’s beautiful.” ~ Rob Stewart
Rob Stewart was an award-winning biologist, photographer, marine conservationist and underwater filmmaker who we lost too soon in a diving accident in January 2017. Early in his career, Rob was on assignment to photograph sharks in the Galapagos Islands and discovered illegal longlining, shark finning and indiscriminately killing of sharks within the marine protected area. He tried promoting awareness through print media, but when the public didn’t respond, Stewart decided to make a film to bring people closer to sharks. At the age of 22, he left his career behind and embarked on a remarkable journey over four years and 12 countries, resulting in the film epic Sharkwater. Sharkwater has been hugely successful, and Stewart followed the film up with Revolution, which captures some of the most remarkable marine life spectacles ever recorded, and gives audiences a firsthand look into the biggest ocean battle ever fought. His work continues even in his death, with Sharkwater 2 currently in post-production. The film has support from Sir. Richard Branson, who said, “I don’t think there’s a film that’s influenced me more than Sharkwater 1, and I’m sure Sharkwater 2 will do the same for many other people.”
Since Rob’s passing, the Stewart family have pushed for the enactment of Canadian federal government Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act that was tabled in Parliament in April 2017. Thanks to the powerful messages Rob Stewart sent out to a global audience during his lifetime, Rob’s family, friends and many supporters are confident that a national shark fin ban will be made law.
“In the Arctic, you are able to see climate change in motion. Nowhere else is it more evident. You really are at the edge of extreme, and you see skinny polar bears struggling.” ~ Michael Aw
Michael Aw is an ocean author, explorer, underwater photographer and marine conservationist. His accolades include winning more than 63 international awards and being named as one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography. In 2013 he was awarded the NOGI for Arts by the American Academy of Underwater Arts and Science. His essays and pictures have been featured in BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Times, Nature Focus to name just a few. At ADEX 2017, Michael debuted the Elysium for the Arctic, which chronicles an August 2015 expedition of elite explorers who captured the panorama, flora and fauna of the high Arctic in a perspective no one has ever seen before. The expedition showcased awe-inspiring and stunning visual interpretation of the Arctic to increase awareness about the impacts of climate change.
“Latch onto the surprises within the story, those ‘wait, what?’ moments. That’s where the energy lies. And find the universal message that speaks to everyone. When you find that common ground, true bridges can be built.” ~ Gianna Savoie
Gianna Savoie is an award-winning documentary producer, writer, and professor with nearly two decades of experience in natural history filmmaking. Trained as an environmental biologist, she pairs her penchant for powerful storytelling with the art of filmmaking to craft stories that not only inform, but deeply resonate. Whether investigating the impact of plastic on leatherback sea turtles, relaying the effects of sea-level rise on a small community in Vanuatu, or chronicling the journey of a band of South Pacific Islanders on their epic voyage across the Pacific, Gianna’s pursuit of powerful environmental storytelling has led her to sink her teeth into some of the most critical conservation issues on the planet. Her work has been featured on PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, and the BBC, among others. Gianna is founder of Ocean Media Institute, a non-profit global media collective that serves to expand understanding of ocean science through the collaborative creation and open-distribution of innovative visual media and artistic approaches to ocean education. Gianna was a featured speaker on Blue Ocean Summit 2016 who gave participants insights into the elements we need as change-makers to tell compelling stories.
“It is not too late to save what we have.” ~ Amos Nachoum
Amos Nachoum, president of Big Animals Expeditions, is an explorer, guide, and award-winning photographer whose images have been featured in international magazines and on numerous television shows. With a keen interest in conservation and preservation, he is always looking to bring attention to the most fragile regions of the underwater realm. His favorite way to raise awareness and stimulate passion for the ocean is to take guests out to experience it first-hand, but for those not able to join him on his adventures, he uses his camera to bring the oceans to the world. Amos shot the polar bear image that is the icon of Blue Ocean Summit 2016. His popular TEDx Conejo talk, “There are no demons in the sea,” addresses the misconception of sharks through his photographic journeys.
Amos has dedicated his life to capturing impossible photographs. His work is what he believes can dispel our myths and fears, and prove that humans and wildlife can coexist in harmony. Amos believes that all nature photographers have a responsibility to use their passion for photography as a medium and a message to protect the ocean environment we love. Amos, The Movie: One Man’s Journey to Take the Impossible Picture is being completed in 2017.
“We are trying to ensure that this very profitable destination remains profitable by keeping the reefs in the best shape possible.” ~Maurine Shimlock
“We take clients aside and explain to them that their photograph is not the most valuable aspect of what they are doing—it is the environment.” ~ Burt Jones
Burt Jones and Maureen Shimlock continue to capture breathtaking images from the Coral Triangle, in particular the Bird’s Head Seascape. Burt and Maureen have made it their mission to help to preserve, protect and promote this epicenter of the world’s marine biodiversity. The Bird’s Head Seascape comprises more than 225,000 square kilometers and includes the Raja Ampat archipelago in the west to Cenderawasih Bay in the east, and Triton Bay and the Kaimana Regency to the south. Burt and Maureen have helped in the creation of an informative, new website that tells the story of the Bird’s Head Seascape, plus photo galleries offering spectacular images of the marine life found in this unique environment. News and Visitor Information is also available on the site. In addition to offering guided diving excursions to the Bird’s Head Seascape, Burt and Maureen are now offering guided African Safaris.