Galleries We Like: The Underwater Project

"Frozen." Photo: Mark Tipple, The Underwater Project

There's a lot about Australian Mark Tipple's career as a photographer that appears backwards. Take, for example, his beginnings. The then 21-year-old had already been filming for years before he attached a lens to his first still camera and took his first photo, a shot of himself looking into a mirror. The next day, Tipple drove four hours with a few friends to a remote beach where he planned to surf and take pictures. There were no waves, so the group turned around and drove home. "But I remember shooting the colors in the sky and the flat calm ocean," he says. "So I could at least have something from spending eight hours in the car."

Tipple loved to chase waves. At 19, he started working day jobs for four months at a time so he could earn enough money to travel during six-month stints to film surfers and bodyboarders. The gigs were rewarding, but by 2002 he had become frustrated at having to wait until he could get back to a computer screen or a TV to see his results. Then, his father offered him that gift that inspired a simple reflection. "A print on the wall doesn't need a screen to be viewed," he says. "My dad bought me a camera for my 21st birthday and I was hooked straight away."

His father was a traveling surfer and his brother was a marine biologist. Tipple filled the space in between by focusing on filming and photographing the ocean. I called him up to talk about his series The Underwater Project (on Facebook), in which he captures the contorted expressions and shapes of swimmers diving beneath waves. He's gotten a lot of attention for the series, and has used it to transfer eyes to his less publishable projects, like the Ocean film embedded below about an aid worker in Tanzania.

Filed To: Adventure, Photography, Water Activities, Surfing

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