UW360’s Underwater Photographer of the Week, Alejandro Prieto was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1976. An early childhood encounter with a circus elephant which playfully sucked his arm sparked an attraction to animals and nature which then led onto him becoming a veterinarian and zootechnist.
Alejandro’s photographic journey began around 2007 when he found out how to combine his passion for all animal life with his eye for natural beauty. We caught up with Alejandro Prieto for a quick Q&A about his career and most memorable shot:
What made you want to become an underwater photographer?
I have been attracted to animals for as long as I can remember and have dived since I was a child thanks to my father. I have always felt very comfortable below the water, but it was a trip that I made to Guadalupe island that influenced me to become an underwater photographer.
Your first underwater shot?
A great white shark. I brought my first point and shoot camera to Guadalupe Island. The moment I saw this magnificent animal I knew I was going to do this for a living.
The story behind your most memorable underwater shot?
I took this photo during an expedition to Todos Santos, a little town located in the pacific south of the baja península in México. The main purpose of this trip was to shoot big predators, such as: Marlins, sharks, whales, sea lions and big tunas, which feed on sardine bait balls. This event occurs during this particular time of the year and it is called the Mexican sardine run, in which all kinds of predators join in open water for a massive feeding frenzy.
I hired a small boat from some local fishermen, we had heavy swell the fist two days which made photography almost impossible. During the third day we saw a pair of humpback whales swimming north, we approached them and quickly jumped into the water, unfortunately they passed away very fast and I could not take any photographs. Swimming back to the boat I saw a very small object moving in front of me. I realised it was a bird. It was submerging its head into the water constantly, so I decided to approach slowly from beneath. As I adjusted my camera settings, to my surprise the bird did not fly. It was a Murrelet Bird feeding on crustaceans, the bird was so entertained on feeding, that he barely noted my presence and this gave me the opportunity to get even closer. Luckily after a few moments I managed a few shots including this one with its wings opened before it flew away.
Where is your favourite dive destination?
Many sites inside the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico.
The site you’d most like to dive, but never have?
Cocos Island, Costa Rica.
The weirdest thing you’ve seen underwater?
A four metre yellow anaconda in Brazil.
What camera equipment are you currently using?
Canon Eos 5D mark II
Sigma 15 mm lens
Canon 100 mm lens
Sea & Sea strobes
What is the highlight of your career?
To be part of a foundation dedicated to conservation.
…And the lowpoint?
Luckily, I make my living doing what I love.
Is there any particular shot that you still want to get?
Many, I am constantly thinking about new ways photograph, when I get an idea I am constantly thinking about how to make it possible.
For more of Alejandro’s work, visit his website: www.