I grew up in a very small, inland, Canadian town and didn't see the ocean until I packed my bags and moved to Australia straight out of high school. At first I was afraid of the sea. Anything beyond the break in the waves was the unknown, and the unknown was terrifying. Sharks were also my biggest fear. Having never been in any body of water other than the local river, the image of being devoured whole by a razor toothed monster was always on my mind once my toes hit the water.
It wasn't until a trip to Exmouth, Western Australia, in 2009 that everything changed. My first time snorkelling was at Ningaloo Reef .... with 5 whale sharks! I was incredibly grateful to be able to encounter these amazing animals as such a novice in the water, and I was determined from that moment on to get over my fear of sharks. The next day I snorkelled on the reef while the sun set, waiting to see a "real" shark. When I saw my first white tipped reef shark - no "Jaws" theme song, no aggressive behaviour, nothing but simple beauty - I was hooked.
A few months later I was on the Great Barrier Reef learning to SCUBA dive and began to plan out my future in diving. I became a PADI SCUBA Instructor in 2011 which led me to travel to and live in Thailand, Honduras, Vancouver, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, Curacao, and work aboard different live-aboard vessels in the Bahamas, and the Dutch Caribbean.
In 2017, I joined the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation - Bimini Shark Lab - as the Media Manager, and finally got the chance to photograph sharks exclusively. This opened up so many opportunities for me, from working on film shoots for Nat Geo, Discovery's "Shark Week", and BBC, to meeting my boyfriend, Matt, who is now the President of the Shark Lab! These days I'm calling Bimini home, and I spend most good weather days out on the water swimming with sharks, dolphins, eagle rays, and whatever else we're lucky enough to encounter in this beautiful, big ocean.
In 2022, I became a brand influencer for Marelux Underwater Housings, and I am obsessed with my housing and camera set up. Please reach out if you have any questions about the brand!
To see my most recent shots, make sure to follow my Instagram page: @chelleblaisphoto.