Photos an emotional journey in changing oceans

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

David Doubilet's photo exhibition gives rare insight into diverse sea life from tropical waters to the Antarctic oceans. Photo / Brett Phibbs
David Doubilet's photo exhibition gives rare insight into diverse sea life from tropical waters to the Antarctic oceans. Photo / Brett Phibbs

He has spent practically his whole life underwater, capturing images that continue to inspire people all around the world. But renowned National Geographic photographer David Doubilet has a funny little secret.

"I still get seasick," he laughed.

The 67-year-old is in New Zealand to share stories about his travels and give a rare insight into a world not many people get to see.

The Coral, Fire & Ice show is pitched as an "audio-visual feast" through three different continents.

The show looks at images Doubilet has shot in the tropical waters of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea, before going through the icy seas of Antarctica. His photographic journey then takes people north to Canada's Gulf of St Lawrence. The work shows off all kinds of sea creatures and underwater life including whales, wolfish, salmon and harp seals, but also shipwrecks and huge icebergs.

"It's a passion and a desire and it has been so since I've been making pictures, since I was 12 years old. I don't do much else," Doubilet said.

"We want to take a picture that has depth, memory, motion, emotion, light and gesture - all the things that photography is all about. It's photography, but it's also edging on art. It's something that grips the imagination of people."

Doubilet has worked on more than 70 stories for National Geographic and has reported on the planet's changing coral reefs and ocean life for decades.

He said he hoped Kiwi audiences would enjoy his insights, but also get a deeper understanding of the need to look after the world's oceans.

It had become a burden knowing that the work he did would one day be seen as historically significant, given the rapid changes the oceans were undergoing.

"You have to make these pictures move people. It's not enough to simply document the perils ... you have to get the readers, the viewers and the population totally and completely involved - and that starts at an emotional level. Pictures have the power to convince, to humiliate, the power to expose, eliminate and the power to start dreams. This is what photographers have to do."

Coral, Fire & Ice: Today at Aotea Centre, Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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