We are lucky to meet some incredible and passionate people in our business. Swedish born Emma Casagrande is a photographer and conservationist with a passion for animals, the ocean and travel. We were lucky to get the chance to spend time with Emma, her husband Andy Brandy Casagrande and her kids recently and are very grateful that she took the time to do an interview for us. Here’s what Emma has to say…
How did you get into photography?
I've always loved to take photos. I love the idea of capturing a piece of the moment that will never be exactly the same again. I got deeper into the photography world due to my wildlife cinematographer husband, Andy Brandy Casagrande. I've accompanied him on many wildlife shoots and have learned most things in the field on location. I love all the things you can do with a camera, colour, nature and light.
Is it tough being a female shark photographer and cinematographer, which is seemingly a predominantly male profession?
Shark photography/cinematography is certainly dominated by males. I don't really know the reason why? Tradition? I work mostly within our company abc4explore, so I'm not affected by the stereotype as others may be.
How do you think a female touch in shark documentaries could change the average viewer's perception about sharks?
The shark shows these days are definitely high testosterone with a lot of focus about the potential danger that there may be around a shark. The fact is that there are over 500 species of sharks out there and most of them are completely safe to be around. Even the biggest shark of them all, the whale shark, is completely harmless. It's a giant shark with an adorable heart, living an underwater life and they are completely wonderful and peaceful to encounter.
With more girls in the business, we tend to see a softer side of the sharks too. A more real side of them in my opinion. The reality is that without the scary music and overly dramatic narrator, it's a lot more peaceful.
How is it to work with your husband, traveling with your family all over the world?
To work with my husband and to travel with our family is the best part of my life! We all love to travel to new places and because our work is our passion, it doesn't really feel like work. We always work and are always on vacation at the same time. And as long as I have my husband and kids with me, I feel at home no matter where we are in the world.
Being a 'Shark Angel' are you passionate about ocean conservation and how does it factor into your work?
I’m certainly passionate about shark conservation and being a shark angel is a great outlet for that. They do great work and I recommend everyone to become a shark angel. Check out more on www.sharkangels.org
What do you think is the thing sharks need the most?
I think the sharks need peace and quiet. They need a break from the shark finning, from the overfishing, from the big trawlers that ruin the underwater world while scraping and destroying the ocean floor just to catch tiny shrimps. They basically need a break from the destruction of their underwater world. That would do them great! It would also benefit us humans and our world tremendously.
So let’s get started even if you’re only doing it for you. Try to be picky about where your fish was fished and how. If everyone tries to be a little bit more mindful, it goes a long way. Thank you for helping out!
Where to next in the world for you and your family?
We’ve just been in South Africa and both of our kids got to see their first Great White Shark. They saw them in Mossel Bay with the scientists at Oceans Research. Our daughter, Nova, is two years old and our son, Ace, is four years old. It was an amazing experience! Ace got to cage dive to see the Great White Sharks with White Shark Africa and he saw his first shark underwater. He’s so stoked!
Right now we're in Sweden, where I'm originally from, visiting family. After that, it will be Manatees in Florida, Sharks in the Bahamas and then Orcas in Norway.
What is your favourite thing about being able to travel around the world for work?
My favourite thing about traveling for work is the travel. I LOVE traveling! I love new places and to see and learn new things. Meeting new people and everything that comes with travel. It keeps our family very close and it makes me humble to the world. It gives me perspective on life and makes me realise that you can do so many things the right way. The world is not a “one way only”, it’s more of a “every way is the right way” and I love that feeling.
What advice would you give to females trying to make it in a 'man's world'?
First of all let’s just decide it’s a girl’s world AND a man’s world! Just a lot more guys in it as for now.
Walk in to the industry like you belong there, believe in yourself because you are needed. Be passionate, work hard, learn from the experienced ones, ask questions, be humble, always learn new things, be very respectful to the animals, learn the animals, take your time, and always think about safety. Always have extra safety plans. Ask about safety. Did I mention safety thing?? Do it because it makes you happy! You will succeed and you are definitely needed.
Do you think an experience like the Oceans Research internship can help future conservationists?
I certainly think that an experience like Oceans Research internship is a great way to go. That’s exactly how my husband Andy Brandy Casagrande started. He was taking shark ID’s every day, singing shark songs he wrote for tourists and getting a few extra bucks to be able to stay at the research centre longer. Then his passion for sharks and constant learning has been taking him to different opportunities from there, and now he’s a two-time Emmy award winning cinematographer. He films sharks for a living and is very inspired to get the conservation message out there.
I was on the Oceans Research boat this summer watching them identify the individual sharks and work very hard for the sharks. The whole team at Oceans Research are great. I think Enrico is an excellent teacher with his heart in the right place and if you’re passionate about sharks, I would definitely recommend looking into it starting there.
Thanks so much for your time Emma. We look forward to you visiting us again soon.