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The Art of Conservation - Interview with Underwater Photographer Christian Vizl

“I try to capture sublime moments of the marine environment, the essence of being there, in that experience and in the presence of that particular animal, capturing their splendor and soul.”

How would You describe Your work to a complete stranger?

Photography is all about light, and in my opinion, it is the single most important aspect when it comes to creating appealing, inspiring and touching images.

Beyond technical issues, what´s most important is how I apply and manipulate the light that´s available in order to create pictures with dramatic effect, carrying depths of emotion and using contrast and tonalities as means to emphasize form and structure of the scenery.

The majority of humans see marine animals merely as tons of food, but I see them as so much more than that. They don´t have a voice that we can understand, so the higher purpose of my images is to be a voice of the Ocean and for the Ocean, hoping that people can get a glimpse of who they really are, beautiful sentient individuals, with feelings and different personalities, with complex behaviors and interesting lives that Science is only starting to understand.

Please, tell us a little about Yourself, and also how You got into doing underwater photography...

I was born in México City and have been a photographer for over three decades.

Ever since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember, I was attracted to the Sea.

I dreamt about what lay beneath the waves, and how it would look if suddenly all the water vanished, leaving in stasis all the animals and living creatures. In this way, I could walk inside the Ocean and see them all, suspended for a moment in time and space.

I became a diving instructor in 1997 in southeast México, and in 2010 I took my first underwater pictures.

I believe my images are the realization of that childhood dream, finally being able to see first-hand all the incredible beauty and variety of forms that call the Ocean “home”.

How would You define Your mission?

I focus on the emotional impact of the final shot that will connect, on a deeper level, with the people that observe these photographs.

Just as a poet uses words to create poetry, a Photographer uses light to create images. So, when I’m underwater taking pictures, one of my goals is to create poetic images through the use of light.

I try to capture sublime moments of the marine environment, the essence of being there, in that experience and in the presence of that particular animal, capturing their splendor and soul. It´s sheer beauty and poetry with images that inspire, make us vibrate through the beauty in every corner of the Ocean, an epic sight that make us dream of a better world, where we value and care for all expressions of life.

I believe Photography is capable of real service to humanity, promoting empathy and initiating change, so my main purpose as a Photographer, is to create poetic images showing the incredible beauty of these animals knowing they carry the power of changing our perception and spark the love and empathy that we all have inside.

If we want to have a future in this planet, we need to understand that our lives are interconnected to all living animals, and our own well-being is directly linked to the well-being of these animals.

As Dr. Sylvia Earl stated, “No blue no green, if the Oceans die, we die”

What compels You about the Ocean?

Everything! From its vastness, abundance and overwhelming variety of animals, to it´s unbelievable beauty and mystery.

The fact that I owe my entire existence to the sea, from what I breathe, to what I eat, to the favorable and stable climate it provides to my life and the entire life on earth!

What is Your most ground breaking Ocean experience and how has it inspired You?

It´s very hard to pick just one, each one is unique and has taught me so many different things, but generally speaking, the experience of just observing the animals as they are, wild, free and in their natural environment always brings me joy and a lot of learning and inspiration.

Just by observing the amazing way they live their lives, has inspired me in so many ways, like letting go of my own ego and thinking that we are the superior species on this planet. As soon as they are born, they outlive their full potential, without insecurities, without judgment, without wanting to be someone else.

You released Your first book in 2019 with the title “Silent Kingdom”. Will You share with the readers of Oceans Daily Magazine, Your take on raising awareness of the problems in the Ocean, though sharing stunning underwater imagery?

I have devoted my life to exploring and contemplate the amazing beauty of the Ocean and it has been an incredible journey that has brought me a deep feeling of connection with nature… But sadly, during my lifetime I have witness the ever-increasing devastation that we, humans, are creating in this planet.

Today the world’s Ocean is in grave danger. Overfishing, pollution, plastics, radiation, climate change, acidification and other human pressures threaten the fundamental nature of the Ocean and it´s animals are being pushed to near extinction.

The time to act and reverse our negative impact is now, before it´s too late! We are currently risking losing everything. And that is the intention of all my work, to inspire people to care and respect nature and all of its sentient beings through beauty.

How do You experience people’s reaction to Your work?

For me it´s a great honor to be able to reach people´s emotion´s in a positive way and share the amazing beauty that I see in all the animals.

What aspects do You find to be the most important concerning Ocean conservation?

All life on this planet depends on the health of the Ocean. It regulates the weather, the temperature, absorbs excess CO2, contains 97% of the water and 97% of the biosphere. It governs the planet´s chemistry, replenish all the water in lakes and rivers, produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe and is the basis of the entire food chain.

The Ocean give us life, but in return we throw over 8 million tons of plastic every year, we are overfishing to the point where a study published in 2006 by the UN stated that we could empty the Ocean from fish by 2048, - more than 50% of the worlds corals have died, there are over 400 dead zones in the Ocean that reflect changes in chemistry, rising temperatures and over use of fertilizers and chemicals on land. Global warming and other changes in the weather affect Ocean life and the oceanic systems that in turn are affecting the atmosphere and land systems.

We must understand that our lives are dependent upon the health of the Ocean, - but we are killing it, so the time to act is now and the best and fastest thing we can do to help is stop our consumption patterns, especially buying from big corporations and our meat consumption.

Has Your approach to Ocean conservation changed over the years?

Yes, when I was a kid the Ocean seemed so vast and abundant that the majority of humans thought we could never make a significant damage, but during my lifetime things have completely changed and now we know we are facing a global crisis.

Around 2010, I started to investigate, watching all the available documentaries and read many books with all the scientific data of our impact to this vital ecosystem and all it´s animals, until I opened my own eyes to this reality.

After that, I wanted to do more regarding Ocean conservation and even thought about quitting photography to become an activist. But after some consideration I realized that if I had a talent to reach people´s emotions through my photography, I should value that and do my best with this approach.

I then also decided to start giving Ocean conservation talks, where I talk directly to large audiences about the secret life of fish, then I talk about all the problems that we have created in the Ocean and finally and most important, - what can we do as individuals to help create a more sustainable way of living.

Are You optimistic about the future for the Ocean?

Yes! There is always hope! And there are many reasons for hope.

People all over the world are waking up, elevating their awareness, starting to change their daily consumption patterns, inspiring other people.

Amazing projects are on their way to protect vital ecosystems lead by extraordinary people.

We don´t have a lot of time, so the time to act is now!

Christian Vizl

Underwater Photographer

Instagram: @ChristianVizl


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