Home Underwater Photography Underwater Photographer of the Week: Jessica Farrer

Underwater Photographer of the Week: Jessica Farrer

Field ecologist and underwater photographer Jessica Farrer works with marine predators in far out places like Antarctica, Hawaii and the North Pacific. She talks freediving, box jellyfish and sea ice in our latest Q&A…

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How did you get started in underwater photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

My father had The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau book set on the lowest level of our book shelves growing up. I was obsessed.  I would sit for hours flipping though the pages looking at the photos. I’m pretty sure this is where it all started.

What came first – diving or photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

Diving certainly came first, though had I been in a position to purchase an underwater camera when I first started diving, I believe they would have gone hand in hand. I think underwater photography was always the end goal.

What’s in your underwater photography kit bag?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

I’m a field biologist and a mum. An Aquatech housing with a Canon 5D Mk III and a 16-35mm lens. I have a substantial wish-list but for now, this is it. However, ultimately I think patience and creativity are so much more important than the contents of a kit bag. 

Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

Anywhere there is clear water and animals. Preferably big animals…

Most challenging dive?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

I mostly freedive for photography and cold water dives are the most challenging for me. The trade off of dealing with loss of dexterity in your hands from the cold or from thick gloves makes photography tricky.

Who are your diving inspirations?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

John Weller, Guilaume Néry and the Weddell seal.

Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

At the top of my list is the Ross Sea, Antarctica. The clearest water in the world, light filtering through the cracks in the sea ice to the backdrop of surreal noises of the Weddell seal. Yes please. But I also really want to dive the Pantanal.

What advice do you wish you had as a novice underwater photographer?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

Be patient and stay calm. A good photo is an animal that is swimming toward you in curiosity not fleeing from you in fear. Slow deliberate movements and putting yourself in the right place at the right time will always yield a more engaging photo than rushing at an animal to get ‘the shot’. Let nature come to you.

Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

I was freediving, shooting Ula in Hawaii and had a box jelly tentacle wrap around my hand and camera. I will never forget that visual and the moment of wondering how in the world I was going to get it off without making it worse. Something I didn’t succeed in doing. I will consider myself lucky that this is the hairiest moment I can recall.

What is your most memorable dive?

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica Farrer

I can’t choose one. Being in the water is where I feel complete. Every dive is different and magical for different reasons.

Jessica Farrer

Underwater Photographer of the Week Jessica FarrerAs a field ecologist, I work mostly with marine predators in places like Antarctica, Hawaii and the North Pacific. I am currently working on a project focused on the foraging ecology of the Weddell seal in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. I also work for Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions, roles which have taken me to some of the most photographic and remote places on the planet.  When I’m not in the field, I’m in the San Juan Islands with my three-year-old little girl, who I desperately hope grows up to love the ocean as much as her mum.

 

See more of Jessica’s work at https://jessicafarrer.com/ or on Instagram

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Lorna Dockerill
Lorna Dockerill
Lorna fell in love with scuba diving back in 2011 during a trip to Thailand and Australia. Having always dreamt of seeing a sea turtle in the wild, her dream was realised on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while training to become a certified diver. Since then she’s developed a passion for the natural world, writing about wildlife photography – both the on land and underwater kind – for the past eight years.

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