Sydney Ocean Meets

Interview With Grant Morris - The Aqua Zulu by Katherine Nielsen

Grant is Based in Sydney. His knowledge of the Ocean is impressive, his smile infectious, with a personality that literally lights up the room.  He has the most calm and gentle approach to teaching, you will feel safe even in the heaviest of waves. Grant runs some ocean meets in Sydney if have a keen interest in Ocean Photography get in touch via @the_aqua_zulu

Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?

Hi my name is Grant, I use the tag of The Aqua Zulu due to the fact that one of my friends called me that one day and it just stuck as I was born in South Africa, 800 kilometres away from the ocean. 

I have huge respect for people that reach out and want to learn as I am self taught and pretty much just went by trail and error. I have been in situations where I have come close to drowning but that Is why I am happy to teach, so that people can learn from my mistakes.

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Can you give a breakdown of the equipment you use to create your images?

I use a Canon 7d mk2 in a Aquatech Elite housing but I have recently upgraded to the 1DX.

What would be your favourite lens and why?

Reason why I didn't answer it in the previous question is that I only use two lenses in the water. 

Canon 8-15mm when I want to get as much in the frame as possible.

Canon 50mm when I want to shot details or subjects like surfers or mini's

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What inspired you to get into photography?

This is and interesting question as I got picked up by a magazine when I was 17, to test ride motorcross bikes. While I was there they taught me photography as it would be beneficial to them that I had more than one skill. 

I started with an old Olympus that you have to release the shutter like 1.4sec before you want to take a shot as it was so delayed. It was challenging but it definitely taught me to appreciate good gear and made me a better photographer as I still got the shot with an entry level camera. 

Which photographers influenced you?

I have a few as I don't really have a style myself. I look up to guys like Ben Thouard as he is the king of underwater clarity, which I find a lot of photographers don't shoot. 

Guys like Mitch Gilmore and Jake Brereton who promote the love of what we do and are absolutely killing it up at the Goldie.

Lastly would be John Wolfson as his abstract view on the water is just incredible. 

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How would you describe your current photographic style?

If I had to really describe it I would say evolving. I don't think I have a set style. I will get to a body of water and stare at it. Sometimes for 5min sometimes for 40. 

I will end up seeing something and try capture it. 

How do you continue to develop your photography skills?

Every time I get out I try to shoot something different. I always push myself to grow and about two weeks ago I shot my first image where the shutter speed was below 1/100 which is strange for me but definitely progressive. 

Grant Morris - The Aqua Zulu

Have you ever had an experience in the ocean that really scared you?

I have had a few but the top one is definitely about a year ago I swam out in Long Reef and looked down and there was a huge dark shadow swimming underneath me. I definitely got a huge fright but had to stay calm. 

I popped my head underwater to see if I could see anything but the salt on the eyes doesn't really give you a clear view but I could see it swimming around. it was easily bigger than me. So I decided to just slowly swim back to shore and not freak out. The fact that I couldn't really see what shark it was is probably what kept me calm but freaked me out at the same time. 

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What do you hope people feel when they look at your work?

Inspired but know that every image tells a story and definitely has a story behind it. 

Grant Morris - The Aqua Zulu

Finally do you have any advice for aspiring ocean photographers?

Do not ever get discouraged by negativity. There is a lot of it out there but you just have to make sure you don't listen to and do what you love. 

Let it be the fuel to your fire! 

And if you're ever in Sydney, Hit me up and I will gladly take you out. This world needs more love!