Sharks may be presented as terrifying creatures, but photographer Benjamin Von Wong wants you to know that they're not all that bad. In an effort to encourage the protection of sharks, he found a model willing to dive into toothy waters for a photoshoot that helps break stereotypes and promote his ongoing petition for shark sanctuaries titled Support a No Shark and Ray Kill Policy & the Creation of a Malaysian Shark Sanctuary.
“Though popular media would tell you that sharks come swarming at the slightest scent of blood, death and suffering, our experience with them was the complete opposite," says the artist on his website. "Similar to squirrels at a park, the white tipped reef sharks would hover around us curiously only to scamper off if anyone got too close.”
Shot off the coast of Fiji, the cool Shark Shepherd series wasn’t easy to achieve. “In addition to the standard complications of shooting underwater—limited oxygen, complex communication, specialized equipment and experienced divers—we only had a tiny two-hour window every day, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., where the sharks would be active and light rays visible." While wearing a white dress by Ali Charisma, model and champion free diver Amber Bourke was weighted down into the center of a beautiful underwater rock formation where the lighting was perfect. It took three days of waiting patiently for the sharks to come close to get the finished photos.
If these photos make you rethink your position on sharks, check out the petition linked above and learn more about how one single shark can benefit ecotourism by “bringing in over US $1.9 million over the course of its lifetime.”