How to Photograph a Shark

"Being down low is important. It’s the best way to get a head- on photo."

Kydd Pollock

By Kydd Pollock

Sharks are common place at Palmyra, and since most of them are reef sharks—grey, white-tipped and black-tipped—they are not aggressive unless provoked or threatened.  This, and the fact that they can be found in shallow water, makes Palmyra an ideal place to photograph them. 

Over the years, I have developed several strategies to improve my own photos. While I am happy to share some of my techniques, I would never encourage anyone to photograph a shark, or anything else in the ocean, without lots of experience and training already under your belt.

When I try to get a good picture of a shark, I try and see the shark in my camera lens from as far away as possible. Then, I find a hole in the reef, or a depression, so that I can hide most of my body while keeping the camera at reef level.  

Being down low is important. It’s the best way to get a head- on photo or one taken from slightly underneath the shark. At that angle, I am literally eye-to-eye with the shark. Sometimes I get the feeling that it’s coming right at me.  While it may feel a little nerve-wracking, believe me, it really increases the ‘wow!’ factor of the shot.   

Not showing the full mass of my body is also important. Sharks are curious, so they will swim over to check out what is near them in the ocean. If they don’t come toward me while I am waiting for them, I often make a grunting or low-frequency noise in my throat. And I stay as still as possible, hiding, waiting for them to swim toward me and for the right moment to click the shutter.

One last thing: sharks tend to come closest on their first pass—so I’ve learned to be ready. Otherwise, I  end up photographing their tails. 


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