During my early childhood, I have vivid memories of being terrified by the power of the ocean. One of my earliest recollections is of walking along the shore with my parents at a young age, with huge, noisy waves crashing beside us, the immense power of the ocean forever etched in my mind. It felt as though the waves could engulf us at any moment.
This fear of the ocean stayed with me until I learned to snorkel. Discovering the wonders beneath the surface made the ocean seem less intimidating. Like many Australians, I soon developed a close connection with the ocean, considering it one of my favourite playgrounds.
If you had asked me years ago where I'd end up as an adult, becoming an underwater photographer would have been a surprise. In my teenage years, I developed an interest in photography during high school and even applied to study it at university, although I didn't get in. Instead, I pursued Graphic Design in Melbourne. After completing my design studies, a vacation in Thailand introduced me to scuba diving, a passion that led me to abandon my design career and become a dive instructor. The underwater world fascinated me, offering a sense of freedom and tranquility that felt right.
I spent several years in Thailand and Indonesia, working in the dive industry and volunteering for Marine Megafauna Foundation, assisting with manta ray research in Indonesia. The ocean and conservation became a consuming passion, and I knew I was on the right path. As a creative individual, it wasn't long before I picked up an underwater camera, and my career took another turn, with underwater photography quickly filling my free time outside of diving and research.
I purchased my first underwater camera in 2014 and taught myself the basics of underwater photography. I spent hours in the water honing my skills. After a few years of teaching diving, I yearned for a new challenge and a more creative job to build a career. I realised that to take photography seriously, I needed to upgrade to a full frame camera and consider where I wanted to work as a photographer.
I had been following several Australian photographers on social media who were based at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. It seemed like the perfect place to further my skills. In 2021, I moved to Western Australia and started my first job as a professional photographer on a whale shark tour boat.
Nearly three years later, I'm still here, feeling at home in the Australian outback. I work full-time as a photographer, documenting our beautiful marine life, working with brands and various clients. Our home here is incredible, with a thriving and diversity of marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, migrating humpback whales, dugongs, and many other species. The Ningaloo is truly a magical place, always surprising and inspiring. It's the dream location for any underwater photographer or nature lover. Living and working here set me on the right path and into my career as a photographer, just as I had hoped.
Much of my work revolves around my love for the ocean, naturally leading to a deep understanding of the need for marine conservation. My photos have been submitted to various conservation groups, scientific papers, including manta and whale shark ID catalogues, conservation articles, and fundraising efforts. I hope that my imagery can inspire change and foster a love for the natural world by connecting viewers with my subjects.
When I'm not swimming in the ocean with sharks and rays, I enjoy writing and sharing stories from my experiences. My work has been published in several magazines, including Oceanographic Mag, EzDive, Mother Magazine, Ocean Giants, and Alert Diver.
The most surprising aspect of my newly-formed career was an award I received. In 2022, just two years into my professional career, I was honoured with an international photography award. This was a significant accomplishment for me, and I am constantly grateful for the opportunity to work in such a rewarding field alongside incredible animals and breathtaking experiences.
To follow along with all my adventures, check out my Instagram @brookepykephotography.