Glass and Water: Interview with the Author – Mark Harris

Glass and Water - Freediving Photography Mark Harris
© Laura Storm / Planet Plankton

As a bit of an introduction about the author, Mark Harris is a respected International Freediver. His experience means he has the capability to dispel some of the myths, and highlight this great and diverse sport. His previous experience in the sport has seen him organise the long established London Freediving group. He was a successful athlete, winning various titles including a silver medal at the 2004 World Championships and captain on the 2006 World Championship UK Freediving squad. He is a competition judge, an AIDA Instructor, a Coach and now a successful underwater photographer and author. The advanced skills discussed will be useful to beginners and intermediate divers alike.

In a recent interview Mark has decided to share some interesting information with us about the book and why he decided to write it.

DeeperBlue.com: Mark, what inspired you to write Glass and Water?

Mark Harris: It was when wildlife documentaries on TV started to do a piece at the end showing how the programme was made. With any of the underwater films involving breath hold diving, I could see that in many cases, time was being wasted due to poor technique and the wrong (freediving) equipment being used. This was easy for me to spot, as I regularly coached competitive freedivers at the time. It also made me think that underwater photographers (stills and video), could really benefit their photography by adopting techniques and equipment from the world of competitive freediving, in order to improve their efficiency underwater.

DB: So will we see improvements on these documentaries?

MH: I hope so! The BBC Natural History Unit now has a copy in their technical library, and wildlife cameraman Doug Allan relayed to me that he was impressed with what he had read.

DB: Will it benefit the average underwater photographer, scuba diver or Freediver?

MH: I actually set out with the mind-set that the target reader would be a scuba diver, someone with underwater photography experience who had realised that there was a great deal of megafauna best captured freediving … but who had no idea how to do this. As the writing project progressed, I realised that there would also be snorkelers and established freedivers who may want to take up in-water photography, so there is also information there on basic underwater photography for the novice as well.

DB: What qualifies you to produce this kind of book?

MH: This begs a ‘man or fish?’ type question! How much of a freediver am I, vs. that of underwater photographer? Without hesitation, more of the former and in fairness the book does reflect this. I have a lot more freediving awards and records than I do for underwater photography. However, I have been an underwater photographer for a good 17 years or so, and have had images published in several other books / magazines. The BBC is currently displaying one of my Basking shark images on their website for the ‘Big Blue Live’ series. As a member of the British Society of Underwater Photographers, I aspire to reach the standard of their elite, as part of my journey. 

DB: What do you think is the primary appeal of Glass and Water?

MH: There hasn’t to my knowledge, been another book published on this subject, and there are also sub-sections within that are quite unique. Toward the end, a chapter on a ‘Virtual Dive’ takes the reader on an imaginary journey which summarises most of the techniques covered earlier on. There’s also useful information on how to interact with / photograph a wide number of marine species. I have been very lucky to have a group of highly skilled wildlife photographers contribute to the book, so there are perspectives other than just my own.

DB: What projects do you have next on the horizon?

MH: I have a magazine article on the go, and am about to take part in a nationwide photographic competition organised by BSoUP. I also have the promotional aspect of Glass and Water to think about, before I embark on any other major projects. My website (http://www.subscenic.co.uk) desperately needs some TLC as well. One thing I have done recently on the website is provide a link to Google Books, where you can read a good proportion of Glass and Water online. It’s a good way to find out what the book is all about.

Glass and water is the first book dedicated to explaining the essentials for successfully pursuing, underwater photography without SCUBA gear. It isn’t designed to teach the reader all freediving skills, but it does cover those vital in understanding some of the safety aspects of the sport. Throughout the book it is stressed the need for the reader to take a Freediving course and regular training within a club structure to gain the best and safest results. It also isn’t a book to teach the reader everything there is to know about underwater photography. There are great tips about these two subjects, but specifically it helps the reader understand the subtle nuances in breath hold photography whilst still delivering other tips, and direction to further reading and training opportunities.

Having read the book,  can personally recommend it as a great addition to your book shelf

For those interested in getting a copy, you can get one from the following online shops:

Glass and Water - Freediving Photography Mark Harris
Glass and Water – Freediving Photography Mark Harris

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