( CNN ) Marvel’s go-to movie photographer, Michael Muller, has shot blockbuster movie posters( including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Deadpool” this year alone ), platinum-selling album cover-ups for the likes of Rihanna and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and campaigns for Nike, Speedo, Sony and HBO , among others.
But for the last decade, he’s also been photographing sharks in the wild, armed with nothing but a camera and hardened nerves, to raise awareness about their endangered populations.
When I moved back to Northern California( from Saudi Arabia as a child ), I started surfing at a pretty young age. Surfing up in Northern California is pretty much surfing in shark-infested cold water, so we knew they were out there .
When did you realize this was a subject you wanted to pursue seriously?
I sat on a boat one night in the Galapagos, and I had this fulfillment shooting these animals — shooting underwater with these lightings and doing what I was doing — that I hadn’t really felt doing my commercial run. Even though I was shooting a watch campaign, there was a bigger cause behind it.
I’ve sold $10 billion dollars in movie posters and Nike shoes and this and that; maybe I can help sell this planet and these animals that most people haven’t seen before.
How do you get the sharks to pose for you?
If we’re not chumming in the water, the sharks aren’t even going to be there. They’re either skittish about us, afraid of us, or have no interest in us, so in order to be allowed to photograph the sharks, we have to bringing the chum into the water and feed them.
Is anyone else out there as excited for 007 SPECTRE as I am? God I love those films, and Daniel Craig crushes it as BOND. There is not many of us that can say I shot James Bond a couple of times. I shot 007……. of course he walked away from me unharmed. I am gonna be staying with that guessed for a moment. #SPECTRE #007 #danielcraig #bond #mullerphoto #mullerphotoapp
How does an underwater shark shoot was different from working with celebrities?
They’re just like people. They have a body language. We can very easily tell when there’s one that’s aggressive. I’ve been taught how to handle myself if they are aggressive and it certainly comes down to you becoming the predator. So you can’t have a dread when you’re down there.
That said, I can’t genuinely direct the sharks. I have a very small amount of control — maybe where I set the food, where I define my light, where I position myself.
Other than that, I can’t tell the shark ‘Hey, time to raise your dorsal fin, ‘ whereas with people, when they step on the mark, for the most proportion I am directing them, telling them where to seem, what to do, or collaborating with them. The amazing ones, we collaborate together. They bring to the table its own experience, but for the most part I’m directing them.
It’s also real quiet underwater, and not so quiet on photo shoots .
It is 100% sweater climate. I really enjoyed working on this campaign for @deadpoolmovie
How has shooting sharks impacted the style you work with your human topics?
For me, when you’re looking at a 16 -1 8 foot great white shark, the power, the perfection of evolution at that … I sort of look at people and — even in my field — I’m not really impressed. I don’t put people up on pedestals anymore. We all share the same sunlight.
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