Interview with Christian Vizl
TIFA 2019 Winner, 1st Place, Book Category — “Silent Kingdom, A World Beneath the Waves”
Christian Vizl has been fascinated by the sea since adolescence. Born in Mexico City, his profession spans over thirty years, and in that time, he’s earned worldwide notoriety for his creative documentation of life underwater, specifically his amazing high contrast submerged photos, taking advantage of both light and shadow to uncover various parts of marine life.
Q: What drew you to your particular field of photography?
Christian Vizl: Ever since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember, I was attracted to the sea. I dreamt about what lay beneath the waves, and how would it look if suddenly all the water vanished, leaving in stasis all the animals and living creatures. In this way, I could walk inside the ocean and see them all, suspended for a moment in time and space.
Q: Do you remember your first photo?
Christian Vizl: My first underwater image was in early 2010, where I try to capture sublime moments of the marine environment, the essence of being there, in that experience and in the presence of that particular animal, capturing their splendor and soul. It´s sheer beauty and poetry with images that inspire, make us vibrate through the beauty in every corner of the ocean, an epic sight that make us dream of a better world, where we value and care for all expressions of life.
Q: What is the most dangerous situation you have ever had to work in?
Christian Vizl: There was a study published by the UN in 2006, where it stated that if we continued at the same rate of killing animals from the Ocean, we will completely deplete the Ocean from fish by 2048. That to me is very serious and dangerous, and I try to do my best to avoid this scenario…
Q: What one photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?
Christian Vizl: A picture of human ashes taken by artist Gabriela Reyes Fuchs and her project “Dead Soon” –you have to see it to believe it.
Q: Where do you get motivation and inspiration from in your work and in photography?
Christian Vizl: I believe Photography is capable of being a real service to humanity, promoting empathy and initiating change, so my main purpose as a photographer is to create poetic images showing the incredible beauty of these animals knowing they carry the power of changing our perception and spark the love and empathy that we all have inside. If we want to have a future in this planet, we need to understand that our lives are interconnected to all living animals, and our own well-being is directly linked to the well-being of these animals. As Dr. Sylvia Earl stated, “No blue no green, if the oceans die, we die”
Q: Explain your own personal style.
Christian Vizl: Photography is all about light, and in my opinion, it is the single most important aspect when it comes to creating appealing, inspiring and touching images. Beyond technical issues, what´s most important is how I apply and manipulate the light that´s available in order to create pictures with dramatic effect, carrying depths of emotion and using contrast and tonalities as means to emphasize form and structure of the scenery. I focus on the emotional impact of the final shot that will connect on a deeper level with the people that observe these photographs. Just as a poet uses words to create poetry, a photographer uses light to create images. So, when I’m underwater taking pictures, one of my goals is to create poetic images through the use of light.
I try to capture sublime moments of the marine environment, the essence of being there, in that experience and in the presence of that particular animal, capturing their splendor and soul. It´s sheer beauty and poetry with images that inspire, make us vibrate through the beauty in every corner of the ocean, an epic sight that make us dream of a better world, where we value and care for all expressions of life.
Q: What is your most important gadget? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Christian Vizl: My coffee mug!
Q: Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?
Christian Vizl: A portrait of a male sea lion, because it reminds me of one of the best encounters I have had with these amazing animals.
Q: Is there any photographer that you would have liked to learn from?
Christian Vizl: David Doubilet, Ernie Brooks, Ansel Adams, Peter Beard
Q: If you could only take one last picture in your life, what would it be?
Christian Vizl: Half and half image of an iceberg full of penguins.
When we talk about underwater photography, it is not only necessary to know how to dive and master the techniques of underwater photography, but the ability to combine both skills at the same time.
There are three main challenges you will have to face when shooting underwater photos: loss of light, loss of contrast, and loss of color. While the contrast and loss of light are quite noticeable, the loss of color may not be obvious to the naked eye, as our brains try to compensate for it.
Christian Vizl has managed to overcome those challenges, thus composing incredible photographs worthy of many awards.