How I Shoot: Underwater Shark Photography with @michaelmuller7
For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about their creative process. To see more of Michael’s photos from his shark expeditions, follow @michaelmuller7 and follow @discoverychannel as Michael takes over Discovery Channel’s Instagram account during Shark Week.
Michael Muller (@michaelmuller7) is on a mission to change the way we see sharks. “They are in a lot of trouble right now,” he says. “100 million are slaughtered every year, and I say slaughter because the majority of the time the shark is killed just for its fins.”
In his day job, Michael is a Hollywood-based commercial photographer renowned for his celebrity portraits and images used in box office billboards. But when he has free time, Michael devotes himself to documenting sharks in their native habitat around the world. He has even created an underwater strobe lighting system as powerful as the one in his California studio. “Realizing that I couldn’t bring the shark into the studio, I knew I would have to bring the studio to it,” he says.
The key to successful underwater shark photography, according to Michael, is staying relaxed. “Anxiety is the biggest obstacle,” he says. “If you let negative thoughts take hold then you are in for a really rough time.”
Michael uses Instagram to share images of his encounters in the deep. Here he tells us more about his process during and after his underwater excursions:
Phase One medium format with Nauticam, Nikon D800 with Subal Housing, Red Epic Dragon, GoPro and a “list of scuba equipment too long to enumerate.”
Because Michael rarely shoots from insides shark cages, he works closely with a team to be in the best position possible. “I have to constantly anticipate where the animal may go or do. What we look for always is what we call a ‘player,’which is a shark that is very mellow and curious that will stay around us. It is with sharks like this that magic happens.”
“It’s all about waiting for that right ‘moment’ to hit the trigger, which comes from 28 years experience. If you get too excited and go too fast then you miss that moment. If you wait too long you watch it happen and have the shot in your head, but no one else ever gets to witness it, so timing is everything.“
Depending on the length of the shoot, Michael will return with between 3,000-10,000 photos. “I keep every image I take, I get rid of blank images but keep everything else,” he says. “With Instagram I usually post between 4-8 images from a particular trip.” For processing tools, Michael uses his own custom filters app MullerPhoto, and also the newest Instagram creative tools. “There are times I just go right into Instagram and just use its tools which are really getting more and more phenomenal.”