Michael Muller loves sharks, and he wants you to share his infatuation.
The American photographer travels the world capturing underwater images of sharks. Last week, a photo Muller snapped was featured in the New York Times Magazine. It showed a great white shark breaching, or jumping out of the water.
Muller says getting that perfect shot was an arduous, year-long journey. But besides his incredible patience, waiting for the perfect shot, he's also known for photographing sharks without the protection of a metal shark-proof cage.
“I’m always cage-free,” Muller says. “You really only need a cage, in my opinion, with great whites on the surface, when you’re feeding them. When you swim with these animals you start to realize that they are not after us. We’re not on their menu.”
Muller isn’t concerned about being eaten by a shark. He’s more concerned about how many sharks are being eaten by humans. He points out that 100 million sharks are killed annually, many because of demand for their fins
“These are animals that are at the top of a very, very fragile ecosystem,” says Muller. “It’s scary because so many of these creatures are endangered or facing extinction. You go into certain waters now, and there’s just jellyfish.”
Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they're slow both to grow and reproduce. “We need to give these animals time to replenish their stocks," Muller says. "I have three daughters and I’m fearful that they’re never going to see some of these creatures.”
Besides getting up close and personal with various species of sharks, Muller also is a well-known celebrity photographer. He’s taken portraits of actors, musicians and sports stars.
So which subjects are scarier, sharks or celebrities? Muller is diplomatic: “The celebrities definitely aren’t scary. The people [who] are around them can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.”