The Mermaid Photographer
Underwater Photography by Susan Knight...
Susan is a Biologist, photographer, dive/snorkeling instructor and naturalist guide, who has been guiding, writing and teaching about the natural world - and how important it is for our health and mental wellness - for more than 20 years. She has worked extensively with professional Mermaids for some time, and loves that being a mermaid is a viable career choice. As an artist, she believes that focusing on joy and bringing awareness to self, and to our environment, engages and activates creative outlets that we can explore, enjoy and develop, for a more fulfilling life.
Often called “The Mermaid Photographer”, Susan's underwater portraits capture the unique personal essence and power of whomever she is working with. She values play and feels that creating unforgettable imagery is meant to be fun and artistic – a sensibility she's kept intact since childhood. It's also meant to inspire.
“It's about telling a story,” she says. “I was the kid with lots of tiny pets and bug catchers and late for dinner because I was climbing trees and comparing leaf growth patterns. I had wanted to be a veterinarian since I was young. In grade eleven, I had a Biology teacher who had a great love and excitement of nature. I was inspired firstly, because she was a women in science, and also by the way she shared the information; like each fact was a fascinating surprise discovery. This changed my life trajectory. I developed a deeper interest in this magical world around us and wanted to know more. After high school I began my Biology degree.”
Susan explains that, as some things do, her passion for science and the natural world just happened, and eventually culminated in her work as a professional underwater photographer. “Apparently, I was always an observer even as a very small child. I feel like those moments of curious observation naturally moved me towards photography. The ability to capture a moment in time that will never again occur in exactly the same manner was fascinating to me. Like watching real life in slow motion. Decades later, while living in Hawaii, I was fortunate to combine my love of photography and water. I took photography workshops mentored by some of the worlds best marine life photographers. I was also working as a scuba diving and hiking guide and took my camera everywhere. Spontaneous photo adventures are still a favourite way to spend the day.
“I was doing photos and video for a workshop facilitator when I met my first Mermaid. I had no idea you could do it as a job. As part of the retreat, we took people swimming with wild dolphins. The boat guide and I became fast friends and she soon showed me the gorgeous tail she had made. Her name is Dana Mermaid. A true water women and skilled free diver, she also has a special connection with the ocean. We spent every spare moment exploring. We took visitors on mermaid tours and provided photos of the experience. She was active on social media and soon I was being referred to as the Mermaid Photographer. I met more Mermaids at my first Mermaid Convention in Las Vegas and other great projects in the years to follow.
Most of Susan's water work has been created in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and the Caribbean. She is immensely inspired by travel, exploration and the photographic opportunities afforded by the beauty of nature. While living in Hawaii, she fell in love with under water photography and launched Susan Knight Studios. Some of her images now appear in the 'Sea Yourself' clothing line she created recently, to excellent reception.
Of her deeper sensibilities, Susan offers, “We have learned that we are separate from nature. However, we are part of it: Here is the simple answer. How do you feel in nature? Less stressed? More connected? In awe? The sounds, smells, textures, light wavelengths and visual cues are all important for our physiology. Being disengaged can leave us feeling disconnected, drained and, often, struggling with mental illness. Science is now showing that being in nature is actually required for a child’s mind to develop in a healthy way.”
Susan's photographs carry the essence of this philosophy in a way that is palpable; a reminder that we are “essence of earth”, and become whole again once we make time to reconnect and plug back in to earth and ocean.
Susan's photography has been featured in Sport Diver Magazine, Mermaids & Mythology Magazine, Freesurf Magazine, Big Island Weekly, 72 & Rising Magazine, Organic Spa Magazine, Buzzfeed, Barnacle Babes Magazine (Cover, writer), Ocean Artist's Society Magazine (Cover), Spirit & Destiny Magazine(UK), and the book Mermaids 101. She is a published co-author of marine life teaching curriculum distributed by REEF and PADI. She is also an experienced retreat facilitator and meditation teacher.