"Replace fear with fascination."

Many of us sit in our cubicles, chipping away at mundane nine to fives, dreaming about venturing into the wild and never looking back. Matt Draper is one such individual who actually followed through on the impulse. A man of extraordinary talent and daring nerve, Draper quit his day gig of being a carpenter to get up close and personal with the great big blue.

Now, Draper is setting out to change how we see the sea. Something we should all be more acquainted with given it's some 70% of the Earth. More specifically, Draper is setting out to change the way we see sharks. To replace fear with fascination, as the tagline of his website presents in striking fashion.

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For someone like Draper, to interact with "... wild apex predators..."  in complete silence is something that he believes "... truly needs to be experienced...". 

The man behind the Canon 5D took some time out of his generally aquatic day to speak about the sheer and visceral beauty of nature.

Which photo are you most proud of?

The photo that I’m most proud of is one called ‘Bow’ of a female humpback whale calf, which has become quite a popular piece. To me personally, it screams connection and really represents my style, due to the black and white and its timelessness. The image portrays the sense of connection between you and the animal that most people don’t get to experience. It was taken in Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga in August 2015.

What's been the most amazing trip you've been a part of? Macquarie Island?

It was truly humbling to travel to the bottom of the earth to Macquarie Island and become one of so few people to visit the sub Antarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia. It’s the most abundant wildlife I’ve ever seen and there’s a real sense of adventure when visiting that area.

With so few visitors, the animals there don’t get a lot of human interaction – and for the last few decades, the only human interaction they have had has been positive so they don’t feel threatened and are happy to approach you. For example, the King Penguins there are so curious and interested in what’s going on, they’ll literally come up to you and start pecking. My advice for anyone that has the urge to explore unseen places by many, is that it’s something they should look into. Being self-funded I’ve never really had the chance to do something like that. So when Lenovo asked where in the world I wanted to go, it was pretty special.

What's the key message you're trying to convey through your art?

To encourage people to replace fear with fascination and help overcome people’s fears with the open ocean. Many people are afraid of animals due to lack of knowledge and experience. Beyond wildlife, replacing fear with fascination is also a mindset that can be used in all aspects of life - fear holds a lot of people back but it’s just a state of mind.

What's next for Matt Draper?

I’m looking to shift my focus more onto the actual art, rather than purely the underwater scene. And I’m also looking to experiment with other mediums and subjects, and to express my feelings through that.

To see more of Matt Draper's work, check out his website and Instagram account.