Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Eric Cheng: The Aquatic Entrepreneur
Eric Cheng has distinguished himself as a top underwater photographer, leveraging that niche endeavor into a multimedia business
Cheng also has the mind and drive of a true entrepreneur. His award-winning website, wetpixel.com, has become a hub and essential stomping ground and forum for anyone endeavoring to shoot underwater, see images from the world’s top shooters, find photography expeditions or just stay up to date on marine issues. And he even has ventured into the realm of publishing, putting out a quarterly magazine, Wetpixel Quarterly, which showcases images from the best underwater photographers in the field.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about Cheng’s rise in the field of underwater photography is that he took his first photo in the year 2001. Since that time, he has completely immersed himself in the field, found showcases for his images in a wide variety of publications and has become one of its strongest voices and advocates. Part of this comes from his passion, part from his strong need to share. It’s that strong need to share that keeps him in high demand around the globe for seminars, lectures, workshops and to lead photographic expeditions. He even has given his time as advisor and photographer for the ocean conservation organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
But, for me, it all comes back to the image. I want to see an image that I can experience. That I can come back to again and again and discover something new. I want to see the ocean and its inhabitants in a way that both surprises me and sends a shiver of recognition up my spine. And in a world where being derivative has become an art form, where you can throw up 20 images of a great white shark and they all look remarkably similar, as if taken by the same hand, it’s an extra breadth of thought that separates the great from the exceptional. And whether it’s notes of music, a passion for conservation, the technical inventiveness or a combination of all these elements that lift Cheng’s images above the top underwater shooters today, there’s an enviable depth to his photography. A story that he seems to see, or feel through his lens, then entwine into reality. A moment that comes and then is gone. And Cheng’s photographs have found, in the most challenging of photographic fields, the moments that exist beyond the eye.
To see more of Eric Cheng’s photography, visit www.echeng.com. You can learn more about Wetpixel at www.wetpixel.com. Ty Sawyer is the editor of Sport Diver Magazine and the editorial director of Islands Magazine.
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