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How did you get started in underwater photography?
Born and raised in The Bahamas, the ocean played a big part in my childhood and my life. I got into underwater photography as a way to share my adventures with my friends who were not as active in the ocean as I was. With the visual aid of photos and videos, I was able to bring my diving trip stories to life.
What came first – diving or photography?
Diving came first in the form of freediving and spearfishing. I grew up spearfishing with my dad and this helped to increase my comfort level underwater at a very young age.
What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?
It varies from day-to-day depending on the demands of my shoots. On a day that primarily involves photography, I carry my Canon 5D Mk IV in a Nauticam housing with wide-angle lenses, such as the Canon 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye or Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III along with a Nauticam 230mm Optical Glass Dome Port.
If lighting is a big priority for the shoot’s concept, I use Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes with float arms and clamp accessories. Items that travel with me no matter what are my Cinebags Underwater CB70 Square Grouper, to keep my camera housing safe, along with a waterproof backpack with spare parts, batteries and a GoPro.
Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?
Anywhere in The Bahamas with sharks. Freediving with these creatures is a one of a kind experience and shooting around them is even more fascinating.
Most challenging dive?
Not sure of my most challenging dive, but my most involved dive so far was earlier this year during a photoshoot with my friend and underwater model, David Langlois. We were doing a photoshoot on a shipwreck in Nassau, Bahamas, popular for Caribbean Reef and Nurse Sharks. The photo concept was a skateboarder underwater doing a handplant on the shipwreck with sharks all around.
Both David and I have years of experience freediving, scuba diving and interacting with sharks, in addition to shooting underwater together, and we both felt pretty comfortable in these scenarios. With surface support from our other four friends, David and I went down to the wreck and performed a 45-minute dive/underwater photoshoot that usually requires four divers in total – a safety diver, shark handler, photographer and model. Although David and I were challenged with performing the job of a four-man team, thanks to our friends at the surface, we were able to pull off a successful shoot. The final shot is displayed above. (No this is not a photoshopped or composited image!)
Who are your diving inspirations?
I can find inspiration in whatever is under the ocean. The marine animals I dive with especially inspire me; seeing their beauty and their world underwater provides me an escape from life on land. Through my work, I hope to share their world with everyone else to encourage us humans to do our part in keeping them and their habitats safe.
Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list and why?
All the islands of The Bahamas and the Socorro Islands in Mexico. I want to experience all that The Bahamas has to offer underwater and as for Socorro, I’d like the chance to dive with their big animals, like Giant Manta Rays and Humpback Whales; I’ve always had an interest in marine animals that are much bigger than I am.
What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to press your shutter button. Be even more vigilant underwater than you think you already are. Don’t ever rule out diving spots that you frequently visit; there’s always something new to see. It’s better to regret putting on a wetsuit than to regret not putting one on!
Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?
Diving with irresponsible and reckless divers while freediving with Tiger Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks. Thankfully, everyone left unharmed, but it wasn’t a fun day, especially because my first time properly freediving with Tiger Sharks was ruined by an imprudent diver.
What is your most memorable dive and why?
It was a few months ago freediving in an ocean blue hole off of Nassau, Bahamas, filled with over 300 Atlantic Sharp Nose sharks. Definitely one of the best free dives and shark experiences of my life and I can’t wait until next year’s shark mating season.
André Musgrove is a Scuba Diving Instructor and Freediver, specialising in Underwater Photography & Videography. Based in Nassau, Bahamas, affords him easy, unlimited access to the ocean to embark on new adventures and capture amazing moments and concepts.
His passion for freediving underwater photography, spearfishing and freediving allows him to live life consumed by the ocean and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s worked with leading domestic and international brands and personalities, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Good morning America, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Atlantis Bahamas and The Nature Conservancy. With over 1,000 logged scuba dives and over a decade of freediving and spearfishing experience, he has a distinctive edge for shooting a variety of underwater interactions in unique and sometimes extreme, scenarios. He aims to bring imaginations to life through creative concepts produced underwater to increase awareness of conservation of the ocean and the animals that live there.