In the thirty-odd years I have worked with the Great White Shark I have heard many superlatives used to describe this iconic predator.
It is an athlete and predator of the highest order capable of dramatic bursts of flight as it leaps fifteen foot clear of the ocean surface.
But, it is also with a different stroke of the tail, a master in the conservation of energy. Both moods are beautiful and both require a completely different work of art to do the essence of each justice.
For decades I photographically focused on the hunter and sprinter. Perhaps this was because this was the easier side of which to do justice. It was obvious, it was visceral, it was all muscle and brawn. As with waters that run deep, it was the other side of the great white, the silent side that required greater understanding and the one I found even more intriguing and impressive.
It was also a visage so contrasting from that which popular culture identifies this icon of our oceans with. I struggled with conceptualizing a work that would show the jagged-toothed-one so at one with its watery world, a world where it might as well be floating through air.
By way of words, perhaps a colleague said it best when he remarked, “That the great white doesn’t move through the water, but rather the water moves with the great white”. To get close to the shark, and to move as one with it, I needed freedom.
Over the years, and in many places around the world, I have held court with these kings and queens without a cage or protection. You cannot feel more alive or more humbled.
It is not bravado. It is privilege.
Recently off the East Coast of South Africa I had the opportunity of diving with an incredibly relaxed, engaging and tolerant individual that finally gave me a chance to capture the calming moments of quiet before the power of the great white storm. Time and time again she circled and investigated me. With every stroke of her tail she could have been upon me. I was in her world and everything was stacked in her favour. Yet she tolerated and mesmerizingly engaged with me.
Ascending, she angled her athletic body towards the surface, and as one, I followed photographing in parallel with her as she appeared angel-like in the sea of clouds, transcending the elements of her watery world with those of mine.
She was at one in her sea of tranquility.
Exhibition: 173 cm x 115 cm (68″ x 45.27″)
Large: 146 cm x 97 cm (57.5″ x 38″)
Classic: 118 cm x 78.5 cm (46.5″ x 31″)