5 MINUTES WITH /// AMBER JONES
This week I was introduced to the work of self described photographer, videographer, editor and storyteller, Amber Jones - thanks to my thoughtful wife Amy. Knowing me so well, she tagged me in one of Amber's latest Instagram posts and from that point I knew I had to reach out for a chat. With a similar background I was intrigued to find out more about her work, and more importantly what inspires and drives Amber to dive into a world where humans become part of the food chain. See the photo above was captured by Amber and I'm in awe of how one can be so comfortable to not only interact with these animals, but, to capture them and remain so calm in the process. It's on my bucket list to capture sharks in their natural habitat so other than a cool story, I think it's a good opportunity for myself to get a sense of what it takes to document these ancient fish.
Anyway, if this is your first '5 minutes with...' then what follows is an interview based story of who Amber is and how she got into her craft, as well as what inspires and pushes her to tell her stories.
Lets dive in ✌️
Who is Amber Jones?
I'm a bit of a gypsy who's found my home in the water I would say. Everything I'm passionate about happens in the water and I spend most of my time immersed in it. On a surface level I live in the Coromandel and we chose this area because of the water factor - we live right on the beach. Riley (my partner) does all his shark research straight out the front of our house and the surf's really good so it's a bit of a playground for us.
When/how did your photography journey begin?
It's been a bit of a wonky, on and off journey actually. I started travelling and doing GoPro video's (just for myself) and someone said this is pretty good which took me by surprise. Then randomly I got in touch with a guy in Australia who was looking for a sports photographer and I did some random jobs like the V8 Super Cars all with a GoPro. Then I got a job with one of NZ's leading ad agencies and it was here where I began to flourish. At a time when social media was starting to boom coupled with the fact I was the sole videographer & photographer there, I was fortunate enough to be given a lot of the smaller budgets and given full creative control to create things my way.
What is photography to you?
There's probably three reasons I do it. One is because I have a really bad goldfish memory and I forget everything - so if I freeze it in time I feel like I can hold on to it forever. The second being that I love telling stories that people don't necessarily hear. I love people who are passionate and it doesn't have to be related to the water. It could be the local lady at the fruit stall - I feel like if I can tell a good story about her then I'm doing my job right. The third and most important reason is to educate people. By showing people the magic stuff that we get to see in the ocean, they might be inspired to protect it, or at least give a shit about it - which is really important to me.
Whats your favourite thing about shooting?
I think it's the challenge of the different environments, especially with the sharks and the underwater stuff. In New Zealand the conditions are so fickle so getting the 'perfect' image means the wind, swell and tide all have to align. So no two days shooting are the same and that's what I love. I love how it can be the same time of day, but, a completely different shot.
What inspires you?
This is going to sound really hippy-ish, but, the ocean inspires me. Everything about it - sunrise & sunset, the tide and the animals in it. The things we can do in the ocean, everything about it, she's my muse.
How did you get into shooting sharks?
That came about through my partner, and I definitely wouldn't be doing it without him. We're both water people and he's a shark biologist who studies blue sharks and mako's. His whole motto is to create stimulating visual imagery to communicate science and I'm the latter and he's the former - so it work's out really well.
What's it like swimming with sharks? Are you scared?
It's super exciting - every time we go out the conditions are different, but, because Riley's so well read and studies their behaviour for a living I've never once felt threatened. Even with the Mako's and all of their fast erratic moves I've never once felt scared (because of Riley) and that's in all honesty - because I know he'd never put me in a dangerous situation. Like everyone, I've grown up scared of sharks because of films like Jaws and the way they're portrayed in the media, but, there's something so magical about defying all your fears and being next to a shark with their teeth grinning at you (especially when they're coming right towards you). You can't describe it, its just an insane feeling.
Never chase success or money, follow your dreams and become the best at it, and the money and success will follow.
Well that's it for this week, thanks for stopping by and having a read! Special thanks to Amber for her time, it was a really insightful and interesting chat. I love both her and Riley's passion for life and doing shit that makes them feel alive - just having a look through their Instagram feeds gives you a sense of their appetite for adventure and living life to the max. They're living their dream and it's so inspiring to see them just doing it - kudos to the pair of you.
Ma te wa ✌️