Underwater photographer Todd Bretl is passionate about exploring the ocean, capturing dramatic images of assorted marine life. His glowing portraits of bobtail squid and a diversity of other sea creatures are incredible, but he really pulls out all the stops with his unbelievable, close-up photographs of sharks.
In spite of the inherent danger, Bretl braves it and gets very close to shoot, safely retreating afterwards to safety on land. While most of these creatures are often portrayed as deadly predators, Bretl is quick to point out otherwise, saying, “It’s really a misconception that sharks are all that dangerous to scuba divers. I’ve never had a shark act aggressively towards me.” While he holds this belief about sharks, he does take precautions, nevertheless.
He recently spoke of his preparations before diving into the treacherous depths,
“Most of the prep work is the same for shooting clownfish. A LOT of preparation goes into making sure I have all the camera equipment and backup I could possibly need because these shoots are typically remote. And also a lot of prep goes into thinking about the kind of shots I want before the actual shoot. Being face-to-face with sharks is pretty exhilarating and it’s not always easy to sit around in the heat of the moment and think about how I want to frame a shot. So, I like to go in knowing what sort of shot I’m looking for.”
On his precautions for a shoot, he had a few caveats too, especially when it comes to sharks. “I wouldn’t go free diving with Great Whites or Makos without a safety spotter (those are on my wish list), but with other species I’m not concerned with special safety precautions or being alone in the water with them. Most photogs I know swim towards the sharks not away from them. It’s more of a common sense don’t-do-anything-stupid kind of thing. Along those lines, since the sharks aren’t swimming around trying to hunt divers, most of my shots required some bait/chum to get the sharks in close to the boat.”
Bretl grew up on a boat in Bermuda, with the ocean for a playground. He ultimately joined the island’s many scuba divers at the young age of 12. Many dives later, he purchased some basic underwater photography gear to experiment with during a 2008 dive trip in Palau. While there he was so fortunate to learn from filmmaking legend Stan Waterman, who inspired Bretl even more. The experience left Bretl totally addicted. Since then he has strived to continuously improve his skills and to capture inimitable images of the undersea world.
See Todd Bretl’s incredible work here.