He certainly wasn’t the first to say that sharks are getting a bad rap, but whenever Andy Brandy Casagrande IV mentions them, he can speak with more conviction than most people.
He has seen them up close and he has nothing but respect for these misunderstood creatures.
Casagrande is an award-winning nature photographer, whose work has earned him two Emmy Awards for outstanding cinematography.
The California native is based in the Bahamas, an arrangement that’s convenient for his work and for his love of exotic vacations.
One of his most notable documentaries is Shark Week which first aired on Discovery Channel in 2006 and has been shown regularly since 2008.
Casagrande’s work on the television series introduced him to the predator and required him to spend time with them for extended periods.
His first encounter made him nervous.
“They stare at you with their mouths snapping all the time,” he says. In one instance, he allowed them to bite his camera, hoping to distract them.
“If you panic and swim off quickly, they will treat you as escaping prey because you act exactly like prey.”
He learned to keep calm and quiet in the water which allowed him to give off positive energy.
“Humans treat sharks as threats. The reality is that human beings are the greatest threat to them,” he says.
Casagrande has been fascinated by sharks from an early age.
When he wrote a song about the great white shark, a research team in Cape Town, South Africa, liked it and offered to take him in as an assistant.
He became a wildlife photographer as a result of his research experience, although he largely made it on his own.
“When you’re truly passionate about something, you will do your best to get it,” he says.
It helps that Casagrande is adventurous and easily given to new discoveries.
Recently, he encountered a pod of sperm whales for the first time while filming his new documentary series Bahama Blue.
“I was lucky. The whales allowed me to come close but I could only get a few shots out of the 100 times I went into the water,” he says.
“It’s hard work but it’s the best job in the world.”
Bahama Blue will air on Animal Planet (nowTV 210, Cable TV Channel 55, and bbtv 314) every Friday starting June 26.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 16.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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