Replace fear with fascination
Matt Draper is an Australia-based underwater photographer who specialises in wide-angle black and white imagery. He spends countless hours in the water, learning to better understand the species he interacts with. By meticulously studying and patiently moving through each untamed environment, he is able to reveal distinct characteristics and behaviours.
Replace fear with fascination. These words have stuck with me since the very beginning of my journey under the surface. It is motto I am proud to communicate through stimulating imagery that fosters love for the ocean. Personally, “replace fear with fascination” means more than understanding the large pelagic predators that grace our oceans. It’s deeper than that. It’s a balance between heart and head, a fight to not only survive but to strive in doing so. It comes from a place deep within, that part of us that searches for inner peace: fear to fascination is consistent with dark to light. One cannot exist without the other.
The understanding of fear, and the learning of associated limitations, is an important life balance. And when we head into darkness, it is invariably with the intention to source light – an important process in my current life, and one that brings new life after pain. I have always known what these words mean to me, but sometimes struggled to truly communicate that intricacy and personal meaning thorough my art, especially when it comes to sharks.
Recently, I journeyed through a profound experience where I embodied my spirit animal, the mighty tiger, an apex predator shown the utmost respect by most beings on Earth. I left this profound experience with new tools to find a better balance in my life. Days later I was dissecting ancient langue surrounding the wild tiger through the Book of Symbols and read a passage that truly summed up my mission to replace fear with fascination, as well as offered teachings into how we should truly respect these apex beings:
“To respond to urges by killing, caging or degrading the great (*white shark) cat is to brutally repress one of nature’s most extraordinary incarnations of creative aggressiveness and sovereign instinct. The resolution seems to be in balance and boundaries.”
This column appears in ISSUE 5: Cinematic conservation of Oceanographic Magazine
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