We have been lacking on the "Photographers", so I’m extremely happy to introduce you to Michelle Blais. Her work is amazing! Michelle is a world traveller who has been taking photos since a very young age. She became extremely passionate with Underwater Photography, especially with Sharks as her subjects. Seeing her photos always blows my mind! The colours that still show up underwater and the large carnivorous creatures swimming meters away from you - it’s beautiful and terrifying! Read the interview and check out some examples of her work.
1. Where are you from?
I'm from rural Ontario - originally from a very small town called Combermere, but growing up mostly in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada.
2. Where have you been?
My first trip abroad was to Australia. I spent 2 years there and absolutely loved it and since then I've lived in/worked in/been to Thailand, Malaysia, Honduras, South Africa, Mexico, Bahamas, Indonesia, Curacao, St Kitts, Saba, St. Maarten, and various places in the US and Canada.
3. Where are you now?
I'm currently in Florida about to purchase a new underwater camera rig for a ridiculous amount of money, and then decide where to go next.
4. What got you into photography?
I started doing photography when I was in year 11 at high school. We were taught dark room photography and digital, and it was probably the only subject I loved and cared about.
5. How have you grown as a photographer since you first took up the camera until now?
I'm still growing as a photographer. I am not creative at all when it comes to land photography. However, I have a pretty good eye for making neat pictures underwater and I always try to challenge myself to be more creative with my shots.
6. Where is the one place you've never been that you have always wanted to go?
I desperately want to go to the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. I want to go to Galapagos because it is so full of marine life: hundreds of hammerheads, manta rays, whale sharks, etc., and this is where Darwin came up with the theory of evolution. Everything in the sea and on land is protected so it's on another level. Cocos because it is also an amazing marine reserve and has schooling hammerheads and basically everything else, too.
7. What is your favourite thing to shoot?
My favourite things to photograph are sharks. They're so $%&!ing beautiful!
8. What is your favourite shark?
My favourite shark? Ahhh... Probably a Porbeagle Shark. They're like adorable mini Great Whites with huge eyes. Super cute, super shy, living in cold water in the Atlantic. And they're massively over-fished.
9. What's the biggest challenge with underwater photography?
Hmm. I would say lighting is the most difficult part, technically. At depth the colour red disappears and everything is blueish or green. Having good lighting with no shadows and making a good composition.. that's pretty much the target for underwater photographers. So that's challenging, but also subjects are moving, and there are currents and surge and all kinds of other stuff that add to making it tricky.
10. What equipment do you use?
Well, I've used a lot of different stuff, but I've personally owned a Sony RX100 with an Ikelite housing and Ikelite sub-strobes. And I've got a little Nikon Coolpix AW130 point and shoot which I actually loooove.
And now I just got a Nikon D7200 DSLR, a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, a Nauticam housing, and Inon strobes. Very expensive upgrade, but I'm very excited about it.
11. What's next for you?
I really want to start my own underwater photography business. I enjoy working independently and I figure I'm young, I can start now and it can be great, or it can fail but I still have time to keep trying. So basically I want to take pictures of sharks and of little tiny macro things, and I want to earn enough money to survive by doing that. Haha, wish me luck!
12. Oreo's or Fudgee-Os?
Dude, any cookie. Gimme.
Aren’t those pics amazing? Follow Michelle on Facebook and Instagram to see more great underwater photos and a few land ones, too. I know every time I see her work I want to run out and buy scuba gear and underwater photography equipment to try and take something half as decent as she has, but sadly the murky Ottawa River isn’t going to get me nearly the same beautiful and colourful photos.