Richard Salas began studying photography in college the same summer Jaws was released. The ocean was a part of the cultural conversation, but the general feeling was of fear, not awe. Though Jaws may not look so fearsome now, alongside gruesome footage shown during Shark Week, that sentiment hasn’t totally disappeared. In his third underwater photography book, Luminous Sea, Salas continues his quest to educate the public about what really happens below the surface.
“When I got down underwater,” he tells Popular Science, “I was blown away by a whole other world I had never really seen firsthand.” He put off school for about nine months, bought dive gear, and started learning more about underwater photography. After graduating, though, Salas stopped diving. His focus shifted to studio work, assisting photographers in shooting products and still lifes, until about 10 years ago, when he was reunited with shooting marine life.
“I want people to see these animals as more than just something in their aquarium swimming back and forth,” Salas says. “They have personalities, just like a dog or cat. People don’t think about that. The media plays up the sensationalism of sharks.”
Sea of Light became his first book in the series, which includes images taken off the coast of the Channel Islands of California. The second book, Blue Visions, features images from the U.S.-Mexican border down to the equator. And finally, Luminous Sea, the third book, will cover Washington state through Alaska. To produce the first book, he emptied his savings account. This time, he’s turned to crowdfunding on Indiegogo to release the final book in the series. The campaign lasts until August 24.
Preview some of the characters you’ll find in Luminous Sea below.