Alexander Mustard Photo Bio
Dr Alexander MUSTARD, (born 1975) from the UK, trained and worked as a marine biologist, but since 2004 has worked full time as a professional underwater photographer and author. He took his first pictures underwater at the age of nine. They were not very good, but over the years they improved and he is widely regarded as one of the most creative underwater photographers, whose works is admired and respected around the world. You can see a portfolio of his work here.
His images are known for their distinctive style that makes them instantly recognisable, often with bright, strong colours and simple, yet memorable compositions. They have won many awards and have been widely published.
Alex was an early adopter of digital and has pioneered many of the specialist techniques of digital underwater photography, such as the use of filters in available light photography leading to the invention of the Magic Filter, the fisheye-teleconverter technique for wide angle macro shots, the use of strobe filters for adjusting water colour, and telephoto shooting underwater (that led to a category winning shot in the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year), amongst others. Moreover, Alex has not kept these techniques trade secrets, but has shared his ideas through numerous magazine articles, columns, lectures and workshops. His innovative approach to underwater photography and his generosity with his knowledge has earned him a unique reputation within the underwater photography community.
He has won many awards for his photography including being a multiple winner in the two most prestigious competitions for underwater photographers: the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Festival of Underwater Photography in France. He is a category winner in WPoTY and BWPA, and has represented both contests with public presentations of his work. His photographs have been displayed in exhibitions around the world and a particular highlight was when Alex was asked to personally present his work to Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Much of Alex's photography has been focused on book projects. His first photo book, The Art Of Diving, was released in April 2006. The Art Of Diving is a collaboration with diving and travel author Nick Hanna and is not just a photo collection but is an exploration of why we love to dive, and has been described by David Doubilet as "the best book about diving since Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World" and by reviewer Willy Volk "never before has a book about scuba diving been so beautiful, so literate, and so spot on". The Art Of Diving was published by Ultimate Sports. A German language edition Tauchen Ultimativ and the North American hardback edition, published by The Lyons Press, have followed.
Alex's second book Reefs Revealed is the first he has both written and photographed, and was published by Constable and Robinson in October 2007. A French edition Voyage Au Coeur Des Recifs was released simulatenously and a German edition Im Riff was published in 2008. Reefs Revealed won the highly prestigious International Grand Prize for the best book of underwater photographs at the 34th World Festival of Underwater Photography, France and has been described by Simon Rogerson of DIVE Magazine as a coffee-table book with brains as well as beauty. During 2012 many of his images will appear in the flagship book of the 2020VISION project.
Although he is yet to write his own book on the subject, Alex has been asked to make contributions to most books on underwater photography published in the last decade. He wrote a chapter for Martin Edge's The Underwater Photographer 3rd Edition (2006), the Underwater Photo and Video Chapter for The Diving Almanac (2009), a chapter for Michael Aw's The Advanced Guide To Digital Underwater Photography (2007) and along with Doubilet, Frink and Perrine contributed to the learning with the masters section of the same title. He also wrote a chapter for Martin Edge's The Underwater Photographer 4th Edition (2010) and contributed text and images to Enzo Borri's Fotografia Subacquea: per turtisti digitali (2005), Andrea and Antonella Ferrari's Diver's Guide To The Art Of Underwater Photography (2008) and Alessia Comini and Cristian Umili's La Fotografia Subacquea In Digitale (2011).
Alex's images are used in many other books including Earth (2004) and Ocean (2006) part of the Dorling Kindersley Reference Library Series, Beneath the Seven Seas (2005) by George Bass and Published by Thames and Hudson, Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water World (2008) and the Maharishi 2004 Magnus Opus on camouflage DPM: Disruptive Patterned Material (2004). He also contributed 150 images, including the cover, to Dive: Red Sea, by Ultimate Sports, which was released in March 2007, and many photographs including the cover to the German title Pocket Guide Fur Taucher Rotes Meer (2008). To date his images have appeared in four books from the Wildlife Photographer of The Year and two from British Wildlife Photography Awards. Through stock sales, his pictures have appeared in many other titles.
Alex has written more than 400 published articles about marine life, diving and underwater photography. The number continues to grow as he had more than 50 articles published in last year (2011). He has written columns on underwater photography for many scuba magazines including currently Be The Champ for DIVER Magazine (UK) and Images (along with other contributors) for SPORT DIVER Magazine (USA). He has previously written 36 monthly editions of his popular PhotoPro Column for DIVE (UK) and 20 monthly editions of his Talking Megapixels column for FiNS Magazine (Singapore). He also has written regular series of articles on marine life, including 50 instalments of his popular Dr Mustard Column for Ocean Frontiers and his extensive Nature Notes features for the beautiful DIVE THE WORLD Magazine. He has written more than 70 articles for Underwater Photography Magazine and also contributed articles on underwater photography techniques to DAN's ALERT DIVER Magazine (USA) and Scuba Diver Through The Lens (USA/Singapore). He has also written many articles on underwater photography on Wetpixel.com and also on DivePhotoGuide.com. He is a Contributing Editor to DIVE Magazine (UK), a Senior Contributor to Underwater Photography Magazine (UK), an Associate Editor of Wetpixel, and an honorary editor of Ocean Geographic (Australia). He contributes regularly to many other publications.
Alex's photographs are published widely in numerous magazines and newspapers around the world. To list a few: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mail, FHM, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Newton, Planet Earth, Outdoor Photographer, Amateur Photographer, Professional Photographer, Digital Photography, Practical Photography, Digital Camera Shopper, Digital Camera Buyer, EasyJet In Flight, Stuff, Today & Hasselblad News. As well as, of course, appearing regularly in specialist scuba diving magazines, such as Diver, Dive The World, Dive, Scuba, Scuba Diving, Sport Diver, Alert Diver, Undersea Journal, Tauchen, Unterwasser, Ocean Geographic, Diver (Canada), Sport Diver, Dyk, FiNS, Underwater Photography, Wetpixel Quarterly, Aqva, Duiken, Divestyle, OE, Scuba Diving Australiasia, Scuba Diver Through The Lens, Plongeur, H2O, Blue, Dive Chronicles, Skin Diver, Oceans Illustrated, X-Ray, Sports Dykkeren, Dykking, and Sukeltaja.
Alex has used a wide variety of photographic equipment to produce his portfolio of underwater images including digital, 35mm and medium format SLRs. His main camera is currently a Nikon D4 digital SLR. He regularly writes reviews on new underwater photography equipment and cameras for Underwater Photography Magazine and Wetpixel.com, which are eagerly awaited around the world by the underwater photography community because authoritative, insightful and objective analysis. He is also one of the few people to still run an underwater Hasselblad medium format system, although this sees little serious use now. Alex is also well known as the brains behind Magic Filters, which are filters designed specifically for available light underwater photography with digital cameras. These filters, launched in August 2005, have revolutionised available light underwater photography and are sold all around the world. There are Magic Filters for blue and green water diving, as well as SLR, compact and video system. The most recent addition to the range are Magic Filters for GoPro cameras developed in cooperation with Backscatter in California.
One of the most unusual projects Alex has been involved in is Nissan's NV200 concept car built for the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2007. The car was designed specifically around his needs as an underwater photographer working in the field and features a patented sliding cargo pod which is divided into a number of separate areas into which different pieces of diving and photographic equipment can be stored. A computer table drops down from the side of the van to reveal two LCD screens upon which images can be displayed, reviewed and edited. The front passenger seat swivels backwards on a single curved rail to face the table. The standard Nissan NV200 van has now been on sale for several years.
One of Alex's specialties is in capturing the natural behaviour of marine life that many divers miss, twice winning awards in the BBC Wildlife Photographer Of The Year for these types of images. Being a marine biologist gives him an unfair advantage. Such images enable Alex to share his fascination and show the real lives of the animals and form an important part of his book Reefs Revealed. He also is well know for taking images that reveal the character and personality of the inhabitants of the underwater world, a much less scientific approach. He also strongly believes that underwater photographs should be taken without harming or harassing marine life. Alex contributed to the Code of Conduct for Underwater Photographers put together by the Marine Conservation Society (UK). He does not eat seafood.
Alex runs very popular Underwater Photography Workshops around the world. Two of the longest running are in the Cayman Islands and the Red Sea, both are destinations he knows inside out (he's advised both BBC and Discovery Channel TV crews on both locations) with reliable photographic conditions and predictable subject matter, making them ideally suited for teaching. These trips always fill up very quickly, please subscribe to Alex's email list to be first to hear about forthcoming workshops. His workshops are aimed at enthusiastic photographers and usually attract photographers with reasonable experience looking to improve aspects of their images. Alex's workshops are focused on getting images, but we have a lot of laughs along the way. Alex also runs (non-teaching) photographic group trips for Scuba Travel and Wetpixel to exciting destinations. Although they do not contain any formal teaching, the diving is tailored to photography and there is always plenty of photo chat between the dives.
Alex is a committee member of the British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP, Associate Editor for Wetpixel.com and a member of the Ocean Artists Society. Alex is a very popular speaker on underwater photography. He has presented regularly at many major diving events including the British Dive Shows, DEMA, NELOS Festival, Copenhagen Dive Show, Visions in the Sea Conference and many more. He has also presented a major nature photography events, such as WildPhotos, the Scottish Nature Photography Fair and GDT International Nature Photography Festival. He has also appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 4's Midweek program and BBC World Service's Outlook. Alex also makes occasional appearances on screen. Alex was an expert discussing marine life in John McIntyre and John Boyle's 2004 film: Ocean Weirdos, a role he reprised in 2008 for his own show on the Underwater Channel called Cuttingroom Critters. He was also the underwater production photographer on the US movie on freediving The Greater Meaning Of Water and presented the Shooting Magic DVD on the techniques of underwater photography with filters. He has given guest lectures on underwater photography to the degree courses at the Plymouth College of Art and University College Falmouth.
Alex also acts as a judge on many prestigious underwater photography competitions through the year. He has been a judge for the OWU/DivePhotoGuide/Wetpixel competition each year since its inception (2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011) as well as many other contests. For example in 2009 he judged Sharks in Focus, Visions In The Sea, the Blue O Two competition, the Bristol Underwater Photographers Group final, the Fotosub Gran Canaria Costa Mogan, the El Hierro Open Fotosub and the Swedish Underwater Photography Championship and the Epson Red Sea UK Underwater Photographer of the Year. His advice to entrants is The best way to win competitions is to take excellent and original underwater photos that stop the judges in their tracks. A wow shot that we can understand straight away. Judges always want to choose the best photos as winners - make their job easier by entering stunning images. Or read my Be The Champ column in DIVER Magazine!.
Alex was educated at Mount House School, Devon, and Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, where he attended as a Roxborough Scholar. As a marine biologist Alex received both is undergraduate degree (BSc Hons) and his PhD from Southampton University (both at the National Oceanography Centre) and was awarded the Norman Heaps prize from the Challenger Society for Marine Science (2002) as one the UKs most promising young marine scientists. His most recent peer reviewed publication was in the prestigious journal Nature. Alex lives with Eleo and Zena.
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Published quotes about Alex
MUSTARD, Dr. Alexander, U.K. (1975-). Marine scientist; award winning underwater photographer; inventor of Magic Filter; digital officer for the British Society of Underwater Photographers; associate editor of Wetpixel.com; contributing editor DIVE Magazine; honorary editor Ocean Geographic Magazine; senior contributor Underwater Photography Magazine; amustard.com
Diving Whos Who The Diving Almanac And Book Of Records 2009
Alex has a unique eye. This is dynamic underwater imagery at its best.
David Doubilet in The Art Of Diving.
Alex... images are so unique, the power of the composition, you have enveloped the quality of a masterful artist.
Alex, you are a breath of fresh air to all underwater photographers; thank you for sharing your ideas with us.
Martin Edge in The Underwater Photographer.
As far as I am concerned, he's the best underwater photographer currently working in the UK. Just as importantly, he's a skillful writer who delights in sharing information with fellow enthusiasts.
Simon Rogerson introducing Alex column PhotoPro in DIVE Magazine.
Alex has provided consistently boundary-pushing articles and images throughout the history of UwP. It has been a pleasure to not only work with him in the magazine but also to go on a few trips together where his knowledge and enthusiasm are inspirational and contagious. His embrace of digital photography underwater has shown us all the way forward and his openness in imparting his knowledge and experience is a credit to his personality.
Peter Rowlands in Underwater Photography Magazine.
Alex Mustard is one of the world's leading underwater photographers, his images celebrate the extraordinary diversity of marine life in the world's oceans. His wide-ranging portfolio includes everything from startling macro shots of fluorescent coral species to large-scale scenes of barnacle-encrusted shipwrecks resting on the ocean floor. All are captured in eye-popping detail and often in vivid colour. His pictures combine creativity with technical accomplishment and push the boundaries of what can be achieved with a camera beneath the surface of the water.
David Clark in Amateur Photographer Magazine.
Dr Alex Mustard, 32, is an award winning marine biologist and one of the world's most innovative underwater photographers.
Sue Fox in The Sunday Times (London).
Alex Mustard has become synonymous with coupling fantastical visions of an image he has imagined with innovative equipment developments to create them. The result has been signature shots that are instantly recognisable as Mustard Masterpieces.
Colin Doeg (co-founder of the British Society of Underwater Photographers).
This publication marks Mustard's arrival as an underwater snapper of international importance - one of just two Brits whose work is admired all over the world.
Simon Rogerson reviewing The Art Of Diving in DIVE Magazine.
[Mustard is] arguably Britain's most successful underwater photographer... who has won many awards for his thoughtful, original and often spectacular work, and also for his new book.
DIVER Magazine UK.
Online interviews with Alex
Another way to find out more about Alex and his photography is to read a couple of these online interviews.
On... Digital Underwater Photography published at RobGalbraith.com - by Eamon Hickey.
On... Me and my travels published in The Observer interview by Clive Wilkinson.
On... What Lies Beneath published in Amateur Photographer Magazine - by David Clark.
On... Underwater Photography published in Outdoor Photography Magazine - by Heather Gregory.
On... Best Of Times, Worst Of Times in The Sunday Times Magazine interview by Sue Fox, portraits by Pal Hansen.
On... Underwater Wildlife Photography published at Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forums - by James Morrissey.
On... Underwater Photography published at Photography Sites dot com - by Website Administrator.
On... Photography for The Art Of Diving published in UWP Magazine - by Peter Rowlands.
On... Digital underwater photography and The Art Of Diving, published in Easyjet Inflight Magazine - by Piers Townley.
On... Underwater Photography. Part of the FiNS Foto Feature, published in FiNS Magazine.
On... Underwater Photography (in German), published in GDT Magazine by Sandra Bartocha.
On... Underwater Photography (in Dutch), published in Duiken Magazine by Ron Offermans.
On... Underwater Photography (in Swedish), published in DYK Magazine by Fredrik Isakson.
On... Underwater Photography (in Estonian), published in Adrenaliin Magazine by Kaido Haagen.
On... Neon Sights, published in Dive Magazine big shot feature - by Colin Doeg.