- Stories of the deep with Amber Jones
I got this little 'shockproof' action cam thing for my first snow season (way back) and became obsessed with capturing the riders in really obscure locations. I took that thing EVERYWHERE until it finally died of exhaustion after a couple of years of surf and snow bashings. From there I invested in a DSLR, then a little water pack thing for it, and the rest is history!
Photographing sharks was a happy accident. I met the love of my life who happened to be a shark biologist so I quickly became fascinated in his highly unusual lifestyle where he was freediving with these animals every day throughout summer.
He made me watch from the surface for the first few sessions and narrated everything that was happening so that I understood more about each situation without the risk. Then finally, we headed out as usual one early summer morning and a beautiful, slow-moving Blue shark started hanging around and he uttered the words "ok, time to get in." I witnessed some of the most beautiful animal/human interactions that first day, and felt like I had entered this entirely different universe where time stood still. Naturally I started taking my camera from there on out and have been privy to these stunning displays ever since.
"I would forever feel guilty if I knew I had this storytelling ability and wasn't using it for the greater good, so it's only common sense to show the world what I get to see under there."
The biggest mistake we can make when it comes to conservation is that "someone else will do it". So if I'm given the capability and opportunity to showcase these Apex predators the way I get to see them it'll hopefully convince many others to support the ongoing conservation and research efforts toward sharks in general.
Riley (my partner and Shark biologist) is first and foremost the captain and coach of these situations. He applies his decade of university education and assesses each unique situation before we get in I.e How the shark approaches, if he/she is a large or small shark/hungry/pregnant/skittish - all these elements come into play. We'll chum and feed the shark until it calms down and see if it looks like it will hang around the boat for us to get in. They usually swim in a large circle around the boat so once the shark is in view of us in the front we'll slide in next to the motor and its all heads on swivel sticks from the minute you submerge right up until you are back on the boat, because in the middle of the ocean, with a huge chum slick (fish oil) trailing anything can show up at any given moment so you've got to be watching every angle so there aren't any surprises!
There's also nothing quite like being at the will of Mother Nature to make you really feel alive!
"'Sharking' is also one of the very few activities left where you're forced to be completely present. There's no time to worry about emails, budgets or deadlines because it only takes a split second of distraction for things to potentially go pear-shaped and so I guess it's a form of meditation (intense meditation! ha)."
There are so many aspects that have been life-changing but more holistically speaking, it would be developing this insatiable passion for the ocean and everything that inhibits it and being able to share it with the world through my imagery.
We sat down with Amber Jones from @amberandfriends_photography to talk about her passion for the ocean, sharks and how sharing this world through her imagery has helped spread the word on shark conservation and research.