Shooting Jaws: Euan Rannachan Interview

Euan Rannachan, the name may not be familiar but his real life recreation of the iconic Jaws poster certainly is. The image has flashed right across the world and has become an instant classic and now we have an interview with the man himself.

The Daily Jaws speaks to Euan about his love of cage diving, photography and the power of Jaws.

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The Daily Jaws: What is it you love about sharks?

Euan Rannachan: Hmmm where do i start. I have been obsessed with them since I was small. I think the thing that always excites me is how powerful precise they can be while at the same time being completely under control.  Its amazing to watch a 3000 lbs animal approach its target flick its tail accelerate and spin on a dime like nothing just happened.  

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TDJ: How do you hope your photo will help sharks?

ER: My number one goal from the start has been to show exactly how these animals are 90% of the time. Hollywood LOVES to make sharks the villain. There obviously a reason they are a APEX predator but once you know they are not interested in you as a 17ft white shark floats past you feet away the "fear" kinda evaporates. I hope my images help portray that.

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TDJ: The reaction to your photo worldwide has been amazing, has its impact taken you by surprise?

ER: Honestly I have not really had a moment to take it all in. I am feeling very appreciative and humbled for sure. But also very excited that I am able to share these toothy friends with more of the world. I get "you must be very brave" a lot, and honestly im not lol. But the thing is I have never felt scared around sharks so for me its a honor every-time in the water with them! Like I said already I just hope hope my images are able to show people the other side of these animals. 

TDJ: Do you know how many publications it has appeared in?

ER: A lot.... hahah I lost track a couple days ago. But I would love to know the answer to that question also. 

TDJ: And have the national geographic been in touch?

ER: Not yet.... PLEASE DO :) 

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TDJ: Were you aware you were capturing the Jaws poster at the time of taking it?

ER: So this is a photo that a lot of my shark friends including myself have been trying to take for years. I had a feeling I had it but things happen so fast down there really all I could do was get ready for the next pass if there going to be one. It was not till much later that night when i was backing up footage that I saw I had it and most importantly IT WAS IN FOCUS :)


TDJ: Talk us through how the photo opportunity came about - what you were doing down there, how long you had to wait to get that shot and how many shots you took that dive?

ER: So we have two cages in the back of the boat. The time in the cage at one go is only limited by how long you can take the "cold" and how long your batteries and cards last. Everyday is different down there. Some days are very Sharkie other days you may see nothing at all. Guadalupe is arguably the best place in the world to see White sharks of this size. They come there for the large seal population. And most speculate they have one last big feast then go off and either make or have babies. A regular trip for me in three days of diving I capture about 5000 images. 

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TDJ: What camera did you use and what settings/speed did you have it on?

ER: I’m a Nikon guy. I shoot with a aquatech housing and usually a D850. I use to shoot really wide using the Tamron 15-30 beautiful lens and unlike the Nikon has VR. But the last couple trips I have switched to the trusty 24-70. Bering able to punch in and then come back out has proved really useful but also quite tricky. You cant get your eye right up to the viewfinder... so framing your shot gets difficult. But with the added megapixels from the 850 and the amazing AF I am able to nail what im after most of the time. Im very against the grain when it comes to most of my settings. Most people like to set their focus and forget it. I have always trusted my Nikon to lock onto the sharks using single point focus in the middle of the frame and then letting it track it as long as I have it locked don correctly. I also shoot wide open on my lens trying to get the fastest shutter speed I can get. The last thing you want is a sweet open mouth shot ruined because your shutter speed was not up for it. 

TDJ: Have you been Cage diving with great whites before? What’s the experience like,  I can’t imagine it ever gets any less exciting?

ER: Each time is different. I have been many times, and the feeling never gets old. And for first timers it can be a very out of body experience for sure. Sometimes so much so its overwhelming. I sometimes dont even take my camera in so I make sure im able to just hang with them taking it all in. 

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TDJ: Are you a fan of Jaws? When did you first see it?

ER: I love the film. People get all excited and say its the cause of many problems for white sharks since its release. But Im not really in that camp. I loved the first film and still watch it from time to time :) I cant really remember when I was first introduced to it. 

TDJ: Have you a favourite scene and character?

ER: I mean its got to be Quint! I even have his face on the outside of my dive case! Hmmm favorite scene, "your gonna need a bigger boat" sequence comes to mind first off. White sharks love sneaking up one us all the time in the cage and when we are standing on the dive deck so its not far fetched at all.  

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TDJ: Being a photographer have you ever done ‘a Hooper’ and asked anyone to be in the foreground of a photo to give it "scale"?

ER: I think thats what you were gonna ask. Id love to say I had that much time to put things in place but we are on their time not ours lol.  Sometimes you get lucky and you will get the other cage in the shot with someone in it. But really they dont need anything to give them scale... they are HUGE and you can tell! 

TDJ: Finally, advice to any budding underwater photographers?

ER: STAY IN THE CAGE as long as you can. Get out get warm change your cards and get back in. This really goes for anything you want to photograph. If you are not putting yourself in the position to take the photo, you are never going to get it. Study your subjects and if they are animals that move quickly try and predict where the actions is going to go. I shot NHL for a while and photographing sharks and shooting a sport like Hockey you can draw some very large parallels. Its all about knowing your gear inside and out and then putting yourself in the best position to get the shot you are after.  

Euan’s story and work can be found on his website: https://beashark.photos/ 

You can also follow Euan on instagram: @euanart