UW360 talks to underwater photographer Aaron 'Bertie' Gekoski about his amazing career and images
Far from being a regular explorer and alpha male, Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski’s path into the world of adventure was not the usual one. He used to own a model agency in London, before he ditched his three-step skin care regime, “swapped one type of shark for another” and followed his dream to become “the next David Attenborough, but with gills.” Aaron is an award-winning environmental photojournalist and the current in-house presenter at SZtv, a new online wildlife channel by world-leading film/photography company Scubazoo. He is the presenter of the web series Borneo From Below, the newly released Borneo Wildlife Warriors, as well as two upcoming series – Indonesia From Below and Borneo Jungle Diaries. His goal is to bring conservation into the public domain through engaging and entertaining content.
What made you want to become an underwater photographer?
I started diving nearly a decade ago and soon learned about the threats facing our oceans. This prompted me to write environmental articles for magazines and to teach myself underwater photography. It’s frustrating to see so many skilled shooters posting endless pictures of freedivers in flowing dresses. The camera is one of the most potent weapons ever invented – as photographers, we have the opportunity to use our skills for the good of the planet.
Your first underwater shot?
It was probably a backscatter-laden, poorly exposed shot of some coral… but I don’t remember!
I once did a show for Epic TV called Epic Selfie. The idea was to utilise a social media craze to raise awareness for shark conservation. My plan was to take the perfect selfie in front of huge schools of 50 to 60 blacktip sharks in South Africa.
Where is your favourite dive destination?
Cape Kri in Raja Ampat blew my mind for the sheer volume of fish. On a good day, Tofo in Mozambique is a mecca for megafauna, whilst Lembeh, Indonesia takes some beating for macro. Then again, a double tank of cow sharks followed by seals in Cape Town is rather pleasing. As you can probably tell, I have a problem choosing…
The weirdest thing you’ve seen underwater?
What camera equipment are you currently using?
What is the highlight of your career?
We’re currently in production for Indonesia From Below – it’s going to be an extensive two-year project covering the top dive sites in Indonesia. The aim is to take our From Below series worldwide.
… And the low point?
Have you any advice that you’d like to give aspiring underwater photographers?
Getting the message out about shark conservation – Aaron jumps into a feeding frenzy to take a selfie with sharks © Epic Tv