Photographing The Ocean's Soul : The Picture Show Underwater photographer Brian Skerry calls himself an "ocean soul." It's also the mysterious force he's out to capture.
NPR logo Photographing The Ocean's Soul

Photographing The Ocean's Soul

When you flip through National Geographic magazine, it's easy to take the photos for granted. Take underwater photography, for example. You look at a school of fish and think, "Hm, cool fish." But take another second to think about the logistics that go into a photo like that:

It takes a person in the right place at the right time, who is an expert scuba diver, an expert photographer with an artist's sensibility, and a marine specialist with a scientist's sensibility. A person who is comfortable with risk.

For various and personal reasons, these photographers continue to take the risk. "Photography can be a powerful instrument for change," writes Brian Skerry in his new book, Ocean Soul, "and photojournalists can tell stories that make a difference."

Skerry is one of those proverbial cases of a Jacques Cousteau-watching, National Geographic-reading child who dreams big and goes after it. He started shooting when photos came in little canisters of 36 frames and has been at it since. "I have been blessed to realize my dream of becoming an underwater photojournalist," he writes in his book, "but with that I feel an obligation and sense of urgency to share what I have seen with others."

Skerry's photos are also on display at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., through February.