Although he cites other reasons for his stunning photography, Mark Tipple’s work portrays the beauty and power of nature as well as the synergy we humans and mother ocean share. His skillful compositions don’t fail to stir emotions, especially for those of us who grew up surfing, or in my case getting smashed by the waves. His imagery is joyful, powerful and playful – they could also serve as a reminder of what we could lose if we don’t take care.
My Green Australia had a brief chat with the man himself.
Why the ocean and the waves?
The series stems from my surfing background, and trying to find a way to raise the profile of the humanitarian causes I was working on. Working in a photo agency in Sydney sourcing newspapers and magazines with world news content and constantly being asked for some celebrity or human interest content, I thought I’d start my own human interest series that would have a flow on effect to my personal work. The Underwater Project is still people focused, similar to my personal work, but easily consumable for the editorial agencies.
What camera setup do you use/post processing?
I use the Canon 7D, Tokina 10-17 fish-eye (lens) and SPL underwater housing – super small and light setup for navigating through the whitewater. Processed in Lightroom – it takes a lot of processing to bring the skin-tone back to something recognisable – generally they look like Avatars underwater (Blue/green).
Any tips for budding ocean based nature photographers?
In both my personal work and underwater series I use some auto settings; I would rather leave the technical side to the camera (which can think way faster than me) so I can focus on composition and capturing the expression or gesture that’s going to tell the story I want to portray. I teach at a film school here in Sydney and would rather talk about the story telling side of film/photo rather than technical. Once you have that skill, the technical is just an easy Google search away.
Surprisingly Sydney’s Eastern Beaches have some of the clearest water I’ve found around Australia. That mixed with crowds almost year round make it super easy to shoot. I’ve found clearer water in remote places, but there’s no one around.
What drives your artistic side?
I don’t call it my artistic side, rather a focus on telling stories. I think everyone is interesting and has a story to tell; if I can represent their story or journey accurately through photo or film and enable the story to be told forward, that drives me on to the next story. People are cool.
Any green causes on your radar?
I’m working to bring the underwater series into an environmental focus – admittedly the environment hasn’t played a large role in my personal work, more focused on humanitarian. Last year I realised that environmental issues will affect humans, “lightbulb turned on” moment I know, and have been looking at them in the same light since. My new project is called Ocean, multimedia films about people who base their lives around the ocean – more than a “go to the beach on the weekend style”, but a lifelong commitment. Hopefully the series will give a human face to the ocean and encourage conversation/change to our current mismanagement of it through pollution and climate change.