“The vision behind Black originates from early 2015, when I was photographing Galapagos and Sandbar sharks off the Hawaiian coast of Oahu.
Inspired by my own interactions with these incredible predators, I wanted to communicate, without distraction, the definitive characteristics and anatomy of these beautiful yet undeniably misunderstood sharks.
Suffering from colour-blindness meant my photography was set to be associated primarily with black and white imagery. But it wasn’t until I began pairing camera skills with innovative editing techniques that I realised I could create timeless and pure art. This quickly became an obsession.
Avoiding distraction and drawing focus purely to the subject plays an important role in Black. It almost takes each animal out of the ocean and into a place where it can be viewed more clearly. The animals appear suspended, not due to extensive Photoshopping or erasing background features, but by using the depth of the ocean to create a background rich in contrast before editing. This enables appreciation of the finer details and provides unique access to animals that are rarely viewed by humans.
The whole series has been carefully composed with immense consideration, while maintaining two important rules: all images are photographed under natural light while using a single breath. The combination of vastness and intimacy in these images is achieved by the lack of strobe lighting and bubbles, which allows a much closer interaction with the subject.
For me, these images represent clarity, a sense of belonging, while strangely finding confidence in the vast unknown of the deep sea. On a personal level, Black conveys light coming from darkness, a journey I undergo in the creative process, as well as a deeper message of facing dark places to find beauty and growth within. Providing this unique insight is my way of fostering intrigue and ultimately connection, as a reminder of our relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants.
Having spent close to three years compiling these images, photographed all over the world, Black is a true representation of my style - a style I am very proud to be known by. Showcasing this intricate beauty truly can replace fear with fascination. That is what I hope to share.”
- Matt Draper