Shooting the underwater project in the Cook Islands June 21, 2013

Mike dives below a wave on the first shoot of the trip. All was going to plan until the tide dropped further, leaving little room for error.

© www.marktipple.com

“I’m done bro, I’m done.”

With those few words Mike rose to his feet in ankle deep water and began the 10 minute walk towards shore, dodging thick back urchins and sharp reef outcrops while assessing his wounds. Even from behind the waves I could see a stream of blood run down his arm, and t-shirt turn red across his shoulders.

This was in the first hour of a 10 day shoot.

We both knew the reefs on the island were shallow; we’d been there before and surfed the waves, but shooting The Underwater Project dictates no boards and definitely no wetsuits – meaning the danger of losing skin was increased tenfold. With a wary eye watching for rogue waves I watched as Mike left the water, he stumbled on a few urchin spines adding insult to injury; and I wondered if there was something else that I could shoot underwater.

After a few technical adjustments (read : complete confusion with new gear); the Mare Vida series found me.

Christian Gehrke


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