Competitive Freediving is the sport of breath-hold diving - where athletes swim to depths with no breathing apparatus, just a lungful of air. For the extreme athletes who pursue freediving, the daredevil sport gives life a deeper meaning. They push each other to descend over 20 stories, hundreds of feet below the surface and into the blue abyss, with no SCUBA tanks on their backs, just a lungful of air and the fearless drive to become some of the deepest humans in history.
My sister told me I learned to swim before I could walk: our father would let me play in the waterway as he worked on his sailboat, figuring I’d get in less trouble in water than on land. Interaction with the ocean - surfing, diving, sailing or fishing - has been an essence of my life from those early days in a small North Carolina coastal town. My goal, as expressed through photographs, is to change people’s perceptions about their access and ability to connect with the water. I want the viewer to be inspired to be more comfortable in the water and be respectful of this divine resource. A sense of adventure and opportunity motivates me. And a desire to share the sensation that has brought me the closest I have ever been to the simultaneous experiences of Death and Divinity. I don 't believe that "humans" and "nature" exist on different planes that sometimes intersect. Too many people construct a false, and generally mechanized, wall between themselves and nature. For them, "The Environment" is a phenomenon to be conquered, a puzzled to be solved. It’s becoming ever more critical that we redefine the expectations, limitations and pressures humans are putting on the oceans. How we treat the oceans is often based on fear, blatant disrespect or ignorance. The construction of sea walls as if defending against a foe and the inordinate amount of waste dumped in the seas show an ignorance and deafened defiance. Too many people think of bodies of water as stopping-points or opportunities for exploitation. I want to show they are actually portals to a connected world. The oceans are some of the most grand features of our planet, and for over five years, I have been working on a series of photographs that explore mankind’s fascination and relationship with the ocean. The goal has always been to capture photographs that are both story-telling and aesthetically pleasing - genuine moments of beauty that reveal the complexity of man and sea. Some of these images have been published, but many of the photographs have never been displayed in a showcase. I hope these images can provide insights that move people to appreciate and work toward a healthy relationship with the sea. The images are produced with digital cameras inside specialized dive housings and lights. All underwater images are made while freediving: the activity in which athletes swim to depths with no breathing apparatus, just lungfuls of air. My deepest dives with this technique are over 100 feet deep, and without scuba gear, I am able to descend and surface as quickly and repeatedly as needed without worrying about Decompression Sickness (the Bends). I also feel this technique requires a skill, awareness and empathy with the ocean and other participants, which I hope translates into the images as well.