Featured Photographer | Jesse Miller 

Jesse1000

 


Jesse250I have been diving and taking underwater photos for the past 11 years. My job as a sales executive has taken me all over North America and the world, allowing me to dive in plenty of places. In 2009, I went on a sales incentive trip to Turks and Caicos. One of my colleagues was an avid scuba diver and she encouraged me to get certified. 

The third dive of my career was at a site called ‘Double D’. It was a 2,000m  wall that started at about 20m  and dropped into the abyss. For the trip, I had purchased a SeaLife Mini to capture a few moments. On that day in March, I was hooked. Not only on diving, but on travel, and on underwater photography. Over the next 11 years, I would travel to Florida, Hawaii (The Big Island, Maui, Oahu), Monterey, Fiji, Bonaire, British Columbia, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Flower Garden Banks, Cabo Pulmo, Channel Islands, Philippines, Aruba, Indonesia, and Australia. Every trip was special and I had amazing dives with some fantastic people.

While I love the beautiful tropical destinations, the waters of Puget Sound water have become home to me. During many tropical trips, I will find myself missing the dark, cold waters of the Puget Sound. With more than 75 shore  dives in the region, opportunities to dive are plentiful. Out of my 1,100 dives about 750 have been in cold water. Since the water is dark, I started with macro photography and fell in love with the smallest of critters. When asked about my favourite place to dive, my home dive site Redondo in Washington State is at the top of the list. The critters found at Redondo are wonderful: stubby squid, decorated warbonnet, Pacific spiny lumpsucker, wolf eels, and giant Pacific octopus to name a few. Due to the macro opportunities, I would have to say Anilao is my favourite warm water destination.

When people ask me ‘Why do you love diving and underwater photography?’ Two things immediately come to mind. First are the encounters. Each of the photos in this collection are made of unique encounters with amazing marine wildlife. I can vividly remember the rare sixgill shark swimming towards me as I raised my camera to capture ‘the look’ in its eye. I was thinking to myself, ‘This species has been on this earth for thousands if not millions of years.’ I remember my dive buddy signalling to see the blue-ringed octopus in Anilao and I thought ‘What a beautiful and amazing animal. So small and so deadly.’ It flashed colours to say to me, ‘Stay clear.’ The tasselled scorpionfish in Indonesia that was perched on a piece of coral, I was thinking ‘If I could handhold my second strobe behind this critter, I can light up its eye and show it in a new way.’ 

The second thing that comes to mind is peace. My mind is always thinking about something that happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Diving and underwater photography forces me to be in the present for one hour. During this time I am not thinking about past/future events, I am thinking about breathing, buoyancy, safety, and care for the critters I am so passionate about. Prior to diving, I did not even own a camera. I would take random top-side photos with my phone. When I started diving, I wanted to share the beauty I encountered, the unique moments, and peace that being underwater brings.

When I speak to new underwater photographers, they often ask how to capture great pictures. My answer always disappoints, ‘Be an excellent, self-sufficient diver first.’  1) Have excellent buoyancy and fin control 2) Be kind to the critters. Do not harass and do not over ‘flash’ your subjects. 3) Never sacrifice safety for the shot. 4) Dive with people you trust.

These four points have served me well and I typically dive with others that believe in these key beliefs as well. As I look to the future, I am excited to continue checking off more travel destinations. 


 MG 0205

Stubby squid,
Redondo, Des Moines, Washington

 

 MG 1055

Pacific red octopus,
Redondo, Des Moines, Washington

 

 MG 2127

Pygmy seahorse,
Sand View, Anilao, Philippines

 

 MG 2912

Decorated warbonnet,
Sund Rock, Hoodsport, Washington

 

 MG 3030

Spiny dogfish,
Redondo, Des Moines, Washington

 

 MG 3114

Anemonefish on eggs,
Secret Bay, Anilao, Philippines

 

 MG 3124

Mosshead warbonnet,
Skyline Wall, Anacortes, Washington

 

 MG 3263

Giant frogfish,
 Bubbles, Anilao, Philippines

 

 MG 3860

Blue-ringed octopus,
Arther’s Rock, Anilao, Philippines

 

 MG 4036

Pacific red octopus,
Redondo, Des Moines, Washington

 

 MG 5521

Horned shrimp,
Redondo, Des Moines, Washington

 

 MG 6094

Tasselled scorpionfish,
Smile Point, Tompotika Resort, Indonesia

 

 MG 6498

Red-gilled nudibranch,
Flora Islet, Hornby Island, BC, Canada

 

 MG 6865

Painted frogfish,
Pulau Dua, Tompotika Resort, Indonesia

 

 MG 7804

Pacific tiny lumpsucker,
Puget Sound, Washington 

 

 MG 9111

Caribbean reef octopus,
 Playa San Francisco, Cozumel, Mexico

 

 

Find Jesse on Instagram @jelle_misser or on his website 


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