Swim with Sharks: the underwater photography of Michael Muller

by Felix Esser

posted Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 12:24 PM EDT

Despite all the (admittedly often justified) criticism at Discovery Channel's Shark Week, the marine predators exert a somewhat creepy fascination on many of us. Even though sharks only very rarely attack (let alone devour) humans, it is their frightening looks combine with the fact that they could tear a person to shreds in no-time that makes us so afraid of them.

One photographer who isn't afraid of sharks at all is Michael Muller, who regularly captures them in their natural habitat -- without any kind of additional protection such as a cage. On his Instagram account, there are dozens of photographs of sharks, taken at a very close range, that make you wonder how it comes that Muller is still in full possession of all of his limbs.

"The sharks don’t really pose any of the danger," he tells Wired, and continues that "I’ve been surrounded by 150 to 200 sharks, not once ever been been close to being bitten." In fact, he claims, it's more about the diving and the technical aspects of underwater photography such as electricity and the lights -- a special seven-bulb, 1200 Watt rig to which he holds a patent.

Currently, his shark photos are being published through Discovery Channel's Instagram account in order to promote Shark Week. But the true intention behind Muller's underwater photography is not so much to provide us with creepy pictures of great whites, but to raise awareness about the fragile ecosystem that sharks are a part of, and the fact that it is gravely endangered by human fishing activities.

Besides sharks and other wildlife, Muller is perhaps best known for his celebrity and advertising photos. Apart from his photography business, Muller also runs the educational platform Photo School. More of his work can be seen on his website.

(via Wired)