Hi! I’m Alex and I’m new to the Mares team. Of course, I’m not new to diving, or to Mares dive gear, but I am a brand new member of the Ambassador program, so I thought I’d use my first blog post to say hello and introduce myself.
I am an underwater photographer and marine biologist based in the UK. My passion for the sea has been lifelong; I took my first underwater photos when I was 9 years old and gained my first dive qualifications a few years later – I remember being most frustrated during training dives that I wasn’t allowed to dive with my underwater camera! Since then, my life has always been connected to water: I did my Ph.D. in marine ecology and have worked as a fulltime professional underwater photographer for almost 20 years. At time of writing, I have logged 4762 dives with a camera - I only log my photo dives, so that I can trace all my photos back to specific dives. I dive all over, so you can expect to hear from me reporting both from the chilly waters of polar regions, to the balmy seas of the tropics. I’ve always challenged myself to produce all kinds of underwater pictures, from macro to big animals, wrecks and people too.
People correctly assume that being a marine biologist is a tremendous advantage for underwater photography. It means you know what you are looking at, where to find interesting species and gives you a sixth sense for capturing natural behaviour. I’d encourage any diver to try and learn a bit more about underwater life, it adds so much to your experience. But my scientific background has shaped me more than that. As a scientist you learn knowledge isn’t to be hoarded, instead you earn it to share it. So, throughout my career I have always try to teach others what I have learned about underwater life and photographing in water – I’ve written over 500 magazine articles, worked on many books, given presentations (including recording 200 episodes of the YouTube show Wetpixel Live during the year of lockdowns) and run close to 100 underwater photography workshops in top dive spots of the world.
However, the biggest thrill of being an underwater photographer is the power of an underwater image. All divers are privileged to spend time in a world that most people never see. As an underwater photographer we get the chance to create imagery and to share it. And when we can create eye-catching photos that really draw people in, it is amazing the reaction they generate and the opportunities that follow. When I was a scientist, I had few chances to share my passion for the seas. As a photographer I get to show images and speak to everyone from school kids to the leaders of our society. Creating imagery, whether stills or video, is one of the best things we can do underwater. It gives our diving a purpose, encourages others to see the underwater world for themselves, and to develop a passion for marine life and its conservation. As much as I love Mares gear, I was also drawn to the Mares team because they show, again and again, that they share this passion of promoting the underwater world.
My photography takes me underwater around the world and Mares gear helps me make standout images in all those environment. As a photographer, I need diving and freediving equipment that is tough and totally reliable. I also need it to be ergonomically designed and instinctive to use, so it naturally feels like part of me, getting me in position and letting me focus fully on my photography. Mares makes exceptional underwater equipment that excels whether I am freediving in the Arctic winter, taking on a challenging technical scuba dive or need to travel light to a remote tropical reef. I am sure I will talk through my gear in future posts, but one item everyone should own is the Cruise Carpet bag – as I am diving mostly from shore in the UK these days, this is indispensable, and it doesn’t even go underwater!
In short, I am thrilled to be joining the Mares family.