It’s been a busy year so far. Professionally I cannot complain; things are shaping up and have made huge progress over the last few months. It is already June and halfway through the year, so I thought it was time for a little wrap-up of the past few months. This year started with an article in the February issue of UK`s largest diving magazine DIVER, where my report of a liveaboard trip in Komodo was published. At the end of February, we then embarked on a science feedback expedition in the Pacific. The REPICORE project, which had been part of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen for five years, aimed to distribute its findings to where they matter the most: in the Pacific, where the work had been carried out. I joined the countless meetings, workshops, community visits and stakeholder events, and filmed and photographed the trip for five weeks (check out the REPICORE report series here).
Back in Germany, I started assisting at the Fotoetage, the studio of the leading photographers in my region here in Germany. Besides flying their drone, I assist the team of three photographers on many different shoots. These shootings have been extremely valuable for me, as I can take a lot home from them: how to deal with certain assignments, the art of artificial light, photographic approaches to problems, technical gimmicks and so forth.
In between sorting the REPICORE images, assisting at the Fotoetage and several other side projects, I finished editing the Physioshark Movie. This short documentary portrays the Australian-led physioshark project on the beautiful island of Moorea, French Polynesia, where I spent five weeks in late 2017.
Just a few weeks ago, I was stoked to hear about this movie’s selection for the 2018 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York! It means the world to me to not only have my work valued but also have it screened to a broad audience and spread the word on the conservation of our planet, its inhabitants, and why it is worth fighting for all that. Communicating complex issues in a visually appealing way is surely one of my main motivations and I am so happy this worked out so well with this French Polynesia Project!
Around April I embarked on a trip to the UK for almost four weeks. After a beautiful short holiday in the north of Ireland with my two brothers, where we hiked in bitterly cold conditions to reset our batteries and enjoy some quality time together, I visited Stefan who had just started his Ph.D. in Falmouth, England’s very south. I spent a few days in that beautiful corner of Cornwall and then met Amanda to have some time off in the countryside of her lovely homeland.
Back home I got some good news – one of my images had made it to the finals of the SIENA Photo Awards, a prestigious photography competition with more than 50.000 entered images year after year. A little later the good news of a second Prize in the Video category at the “Lens Beyond Ocean” competition was announced, and once again, more than being happy about the actual prize, it felt great to spread the word on the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji. I have learned and seen a lot there and this place has clearly left a lasting impression on me. Shark Conservation at its finest in my eyes and a win-win situation for everyone involved: the sharks, the marine life, the locals, the business and the fishermen.
While I was in Falmouth at the University of Exeter, I got a call from the organizers of the “Fürstenfeldbruck Naturfototage”, Europe’s largest nature photography festival. They asked if I could do a talk on an underwater topic. Well, I am a shark scientist and have studied and worked with these animals for the last few years so I guess I have a topic 🙂 It didn’t take me very long to accept the invitation and to eventually deliver a 90 minute multivision show on these fascinating, and at the same time very misunderstood, group of animals.
In the end, we had an awesome time down in Fürstenfeldbruck, just a few kilometers outside of Munich, and not only made some great connections but we also listened to some very interesting talks on photography projects all around Europe.
This month check out the current TAUCHEN magazine here in Germany, Austria or Switzerland with a piece from me on sharkdiving in the Bahamas and some insights into how much money shark ecotourism can create!
Recently, I have also done a few interviews: one with the great Fins United Initiative, which you can find here and another one for the maketheoceangreatagain.blog of my good friend Nuri, which you can check out here.
There are a few things in the pipeline, so keep watching this space and until then remember to enjoy yourselves!
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.