Exploring the Ocean with Underwater Photographer Jason Arnold

by Beth Swanson

Being a third generation commercial fisherman, underwater photographer, Jason Arnold, learned to respect marine wildlife at a very young age. He earned his sea legs almost as soon as he could walk. During his formative years in high school and college, Arnold explored his love for the sea through surfing professionally. He was an East Coast champion and placed in many international pro contests.

“Eventually,” said Arnold, “I had to get a real job.” His real job developed into a dream career. Currently, he travels the globe taking pictures of sharks, sport fish, tropical fish and all the wonders of the ocean. He gets to work with some of the top fishing and diving companies in the world, such as Cressi Dive Gear, Daiwa Reels, Yo-Zuri lures, Ocean Kayaks and many more. Arnold’s photos also regularly grace the covers and pages of Sport Fishing Magazine, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and many more.

How did you first get involved in photography?  

When I was a professional surfer I was always traveling and shooting with different photographers. As I got older, my mind became less athletic and more creative, so I went off to art school. My mother was my biggest supporter in making this career choice.

Redfish chasing Yo-Zuri lure on the grass flats of Florida Bay

Where have you traveled for your photography?

I travel all over the world. I tend to travel to tropical locations, such as Fiji, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. However, my fishing adventures have even brought me as far north as Minnesota.


What is your favorite location for diving?

I love traveling and taking on new adventurous endeavors, but I love diving in my home waters in South Florida. I feel I’m very in tune with this area since I grew up here and continue to spend a lot of time fishing, diving and taking photos in this area. The home field advantage is a big help when searching for fish.

Green sea turtle on the salt flats in Rum Cay, Bahamas

Bigeye Thresher shark swimming in the Gulfstream in the Atlantic Ocean off of South Florida

Have you had any scary encounters with sharks or other large fish while trying to get the perfect shot?

I took a huge risk a few years ago and jumped in the water with a 14-foot thresher shark. He was very interested in me and even came charging towards me at one point. Luckily, he was more interested in checking me out than finding dinner.

Hogfish taken off of coast of Hollywood; FL

Do you only shoot underwater photography, or do you have other passions as well?

Actually, I started my career in sports and editorial photography. After graduating from art school, I started shooting for Reuters Newswire and moved on to shooting assignment work for Getty Images. I still shoot sports for Getty Images, but my heart is with the sea.

Silhouette of hogfish off of Fort Lauderdale; FL

Tarpon leaping out of water. Key Largo; Florida Keys

Do you have a favorite photograph that you shot?

I have a tarpon image I took a couple years ago that I really like. However, practice makes perfect. There are a lot of images that I have taken in the past six months that I like equally as well as the tarpon photo.

Hammerhead Shark taken off of Fort Lauderdale

What type of gear do you shoot with?

I shoot with a Nikon D800 or D4. As far as underwater housing, I’ve gone with Ikelite. Both Nikon and Ikelite are what I started out with and neither company has failed me yet.

Queen Angel Fish taken off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

I heard that you were born deaf in one ear. Do you feel that this affected your career in any way? Definitely.  When I was born, the doctors told my parents that one of my other senses might develop more rapidly to make up for the deafness. I’ve become hyper-visual and have to focus more with my eyes and be extra aware of my surroundings. This has really been a key factor to the success I’ve had with my photography career.

Kingfish photo taken off the coast of Miami, FL

What advice do you have for amateur photographers trying to break into the business?

You can be the best photographer in the world, but without a good business plan you are doomed to fail. Take a few business classes or read a few books on managing a business.

Porkfish off of Fort Lauderdale, FL

How do you keep in touch with your fans?

Social media is king these days. My team posts photos and videos almost daily of the projects we are working on. I respond to fans through Twitter, Facebook, my blog and other social media platforms. This year, I will begin shooting a pilot television show that combines fishing, diving, art, and photography.

Dolphin swimming in the Gulfstream in the Atlantic Ocean off of South Florida


Atlantic Sailfish swimming in the Gulfstream in the Atlantic Ocean off of South Florida

See more of Jason Arnold at www.JasonArnoldPhoto.com.

If you like Jason’s work please leave a comment.

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