Erick Higuera is one of the principal image makers for Pelagic Life whose catalog is filled with amazing images of some of the ocean's largest inhabitants. He's also a scientist and author. Find out more about Erick below and check out some of his stunning encounters.
Interview with Erick Higuera
interview by Hergen Spalink
Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you got started in underwater imaging?
My background is marine biologist and underwater cinematographer. I've spent many years exploring, filming and photographing great white sharks, whales, dolphins, sailfish and other spectacles in the deep blue off Mexico's shores like Guadalupe Island, the Sea of Cortes, the Revillagigedo Islands (better known as Socorro's Islands) and the Mexican Pacific. I've been fortunate to have been awarded at several prestigious film festivals. Some of my work has appeared in several documentaries, as well as on Discovery Channel, BBC, National Geographic and now in the documentary feature México Pelagico available on Netflix.
I am currently a research member of the Project Whale Shark Mexico/Tiburon Ballena Mexico. We have been conducting research since 2006 on photo identification, site fidelity, abundance estimates and movement patterns of the pacific giant mantas (Manta birostris) and the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the Archipelago of Revillagigedo, Mexico. I’m also a collaborator of Pelagic Life a Mexican non-profit whose mission it is to protect the biodiversity of the open ocean by addressing over-fishing on two fronts: supply and demand. We also authored Mares Mexicanos an initiative that focuses on communicating the country’s extraordinary marine wealth, finding inspiring stories of change, commitment and decision.
What gear have you used in the past?
I’ve used the Nikon D60, Sony HDR-FX1, Canon 5DMKII and the Canon 5DMKIII.
What system are you using now? What do you like about it?
Currently I’m using the Canon 1DXMKII with a Nauticam Housing. What I like the most of the camera is that I can still take good quality raw photos and also shoot video with an outstanding 4:2:2 color quality at an awesome 4K/60fps. I also use the slow motion 120fps Full HD 1080p which is incredibly sweet for fast action!
I’ve used other type of housings in the past, but the Nauticam housings have always been the best option to go with since I think is a perfect housing, its easy to use, easy to assemble together, seals perfectly and is a good quality housing. It's also sexy!
I also shoot with the RED Epic in some of the assignments as part as 333 Productions LLC with whom I work with as well.
Tell us a bit about the kinds of diving you do, favorite locations and subjects
My favorite location is the Mexican Pacific including the Revillagigedo Archipelago also know as Socorro Islands. I also love the Baja California Peninsula from both sides, the Pacific and the Sea of Cortes. I normally dive with several species of sharks including the great white shark, as well as with pacific giant mantas, humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, mobula rays, and baitballs ; basically I love to dive with the extraordinary marine life that inhabits the Mexican Pacific, Sea of Cortes and the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your passions
My deep passion for the ocean was born when I was a child and learned how to swim around the time I also began watching the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau (which I think inspired most underwater image makers). I always wanted to study marine animals, especially doing scientific research. I was always amazed by marine animal behavior so in 1997 I applied and was acceptied into the University in La Paz, Baja California Sur to pursue my degree as a Marine Biologist. While I was studying it I got also training as a TDI, SSI and PADI Scuba Instructor to get a partial time job and pay my bills and at the same time to be able to dive more often.
In the late nineties while I was working as a Dive Instructor in a local dive shop, a good friend of mine gifted me an Olympus Camedia C-4040 Zoom and an INON Wide Angle Lens. That is when I started taking photos. One day the camera broke, I opened it and tried to fix it by myself but when I finally managed to put it back together I ended having extra pieces on the table :). That was the end of that camera. Later on I got the Canon IXUS 900 Ti Digital Camera (10.0MP, 3x optical zoom) with an Olympus housing which somehow I managed to adjust it the INON Wide Angle lens. That is when I started taking more “serious” photos (at least that is what I thought J). I remember also taking video of any animal behaviour I could with the “super" low-resolution quality that the camera was able to take :).
Many years ago when I met Lawrence Groth from Great White Adventures working on-board the Solmar V Luxury Yacht, he taught me how to shoot a dedicated video camera, the Sony Professional Video Camera HDR-FX1 accumulating together tons of hours of great white shark footage in Guadalupe Island using the self-propelled Shark Cage “Pelagic Explorer”. Simultaneously I was taking photos with my first SLR camera, the Nikon D60 and a Tokina 10-17 mm lens. Lawrence also taught and got me into the editing video which is part of my current job. That is when I got into shooting professional video.
One day accidentally I dropped the camera in the water and I thought Lawrence would fire me straight away, instead he said to me that it was about time to upgrade the camera and that is when we got the 5DMKII, taking both photos and video, eventually upgrading to the 5DMKIII as soon as it was released, that was when I got my first Nauticam Housing.