Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Free-diver William Winram and a great white shark near Guadalupe Island, off Baja California.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Buyle

William Winram and a tiger shark near South Africa.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Buyle / Fred Buyle

William Winram and a tiger shark near South Africa. He first encountered a tiger shark off Baja Sur when he was in his 20s.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Buyle

Pierre Frolla and a great white shark near Guadalupe Island.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: William Winram

A great white shark and a film crew near Guadalupe Island.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: William Winram/Hungry Eye Images

William Winram and a great white near Guadalupe Island. He seeks to meet the sharks in as natural a state as a human can.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Buyle

Fred Buyle next to a great white. “I have never seen a shark gaping its jaws like you see on TV,” said his dive partner, William Winram.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: William Winram/Hungry Eye Images

William Winram, a champion free-diver who can hold his breath for eight minutes, poses for a joke shot off the south of France.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Buyle

More galleries on Framework

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Debunking sharks' bad reputation

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Debunking sharks’ bad reputation

Who would believe someone would free-dive unprotected with great white sharks in the open ocean unless you had photos to prove it.

Divers William Winram, Fred Buyle and Pierre Frolla do just that.

No shark cage. No spear gun or knife. Just cameras.

In the last few years, divers like Winram have been debunking the sinister reputation of the so-called man-eater.

He wants to show that human’s natural fear has been blown far out of proportion and convince people that the creatures deserve protection.

His business card says “Shark Publicist.”

Before going into the water to get their shots, they check their diving gear and photo and video equipment.

Underwater with sharks nearby is no place to be changing batteries or memory cards, so Winram makes sure they’re all charged and cleared.

They also spend time on the boat watching the animals to make sure it is safe to get into the water with them.

The shots they get are unpredictable because they cannot know what direction the sharks will arrive from. There are shots they would like to get,  but “it really is a fluid environment — pardon the pun,” said Winram.

He said all of the photos in the gallery above were taken “in the moment without any preconceived idea of ‘setting up’ a shot.”

To keep from being a shark’s next meal, Buyle and Winram stay alert. They could be watching one shark for a photo but have to keep an eye out for any others that may sneak up.

They also watch each other’s back.

“Since Fred and I have worked together a lot, we intuitively understand what we are going to do and are able to follow each other’s lead, which is important when dealing with unpredictable animals,” said Winram. “This is how we have managed to capture some really interesting shark/human interaction with photographs.”

The also have some fun while underwater with some gag shots. There’s one in which Winram is pretending to drink tea while lounging on a rock. To get that photo, he swam down about 15 meters in 18-to-20-degree (Celsius) water wearing jeans and weights hidden under the pants and held his breath for 2 to 2.5 minutes. He had to make sure to avoid sitting urchins on the rock. This shot took four attempts as bubbles from nearby scuba divers ruined the shot.

Read Joe Mozingo’s full story, “He’s going deep for sharks.”

21 Comments

  1. August 22, 2011, 9:56 pm

    An amazing story. Funny how the movies & media mold our beliefs. Thank you for sharing this story.

    By: Phillip Morphis
  2. August 22, 2011, 10:21 pm

    Amazing pictures , keep up the good work

    By: shaun simpson
  3. August 23, 2011, 9:40 am

    Exquisite photos and wonderful men, showing the ability to distinguish between external reality and their own fears.

    By: esespo
  4. August 23, 2011, 10:08 am

    Perfect LOVE casts out all FEAR!!!

    By: aartarthurrr
  5. August 24, 2011, 1:10 am

    Marvellous, stunning photography! Thanks for helping the sharks!

    By: catteng76
  6. August 24, 2011, 2:45 am

    The shark looks so huge next to the divers! Awesome pics! Esp the one with tea cup. Creative, I so wanna try that.

    By: Ninja
  7. August 24, 2011, 6:35 am

    Am I the only one that thinks most of those shots look like the diver was placed in the photo after the fact? I do know there are folks that dive with sharks, but the divers in these particular shots don’t seem to look quite right.

    By: Shawn P
  8. August 24, 2011, 6:42 am

    All it would take is one wrong move, or one hungry shark. Remember these are wild, unpredictable, extremely efficient predators. Just because they are not in hunt, attack and feed mode during these photography sessions does not mean they haven't earned the 'maneater' stigma. If you're in the deep waters, you are considered fair prey to all ocean predators. Just as if you were in the jungle with its respective carnivores.

    By: kryspen@kc.rr.com
  9. August 25, 2011, 5:44 am

    […] just wanted to share this amazing collection of images of  freedivers exploring the world of the shark. Amazing photography, fantastic subject matter and generally […]

  10. August 25, 2011, 7:54 am

    Go see the videos, OK?

    By: bobet96@yahoo.com
  11. August 26, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I think you missed the point, and maybe didn't read the article. They are watching each other's backs, never assuming that a dangerous situation can't arise. The "maneater stigma" as most of us think of it is JAWS, which is one certainly not earned by any shark. Look up the odds of being attacked by a shark. That's what these guys are trying to visually express.

    By: Ashley
  12. August 26, 2011, 6:32 pm

    I'm not sure there is a "point" being made by these divers, except to the extent they are trying to pitch a "theme" in a (successful) effort to sell their admittedly very cool photo portfolios. These dives/photos really don't "disprove" or "prove" anything about big sharks. The fact that these guys acknowledge that the whites "sneak up" on them shows that, even when not in an aggressive feeding mode, they're still "on the prowl," so to speak. Also note that they study the animals for a while before getting in the water with them, which suggests there probably are times when the sharks are acting unpredictably. I doubt they are doing too many night dives with these fish! These fellows remind me of that dude who thought he had figured out the zen of grizzly bears up in Alaska a few years ago, only to be destroyed by them as he tried to mingle with them. All that being said—outstanding photos!

    By: tIBURON
  13. August 28, 2011, 6:24 am

    This is fabulous… amazing. It's about time people starting taking some responsibility for how humans behave in the water instead of talking about sharkattacks. I found Winram's site on the web, it gets a lot more interesting. He talks about why he swims with them, this is no grand-stander, very respectable AND it is about a subject which we should all be interested in – shark conservation. We won't have any more food from the sea if we don't save these creatures – primary part of the ocean's eco-system. To0 bad we didn't hear more about that part…. can you get him back for a sequel?

    By: remybytes
  14. August 29, 2011, 9:55 pm

    What part of the article explained what they could do to deter a large hungry shark if it decided to eat one of them? I'm not trying to criticize the divers, just the idea that they can do all that much if, as you say, a dangerous situation arises.

    By: bob_sky
  15. September 1, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Someone call Werner Herzog, I think we just found the sequel to Grizzly Man.

    By: dcbsky
  16. September 2, 2011, 7:07 am

    This guy is as 'real deal' as it gets ~ and those that photograph alongside him are purists in their field. What they see is what we get – lucky for us :)

    By: lauren s
  17. January 15, 2012, 7:23 am

    The next section of your current diving tools are the face mask, snorkel along with fins. The expenses for any great cover up runs regarding $50 for you to $70, a snorkel regarding $30,…scuba equipment

  18. January 16, 2013, 9:44 am

    I live in Australia. I wouldn't get into the water with a 15 foot white pointer for any amount of money or any type of shot. It would only take a moment for a shark this size to inflict fatal injuries on the diver. Remember Steve Irwin? If you place yourself in close proximity to potentially dangerous animals you run a very high risk.

    By: Steve
  19. January 17, 2013, 9:41 am

    In this day and time, when we are culturally jaded, and as in extreme sports, addicted to the adrenaline rush when subjecting ourselves to imminent death, see it not as tragic if death in fact results, but simply an exercise of the human ego involving the body in an action, thinking itself immortal, before knowing its mortality. I had the memorable experience of getting bit by a nine foot bull shark in the Caribbean, resulting in a lost artery, near loss of the lower leg, and a near loss of life. it was faster than the mind can perceive it in real time. One second life is one's oyster, five seconds later, the body and its mobility altered for its remaining lifespan. Flirting with a 15 foot Great White or Tiger shark in open water seems far sillier than amazing.

    By: jlemory47@yahoo.com
  20. January 17, 2013, 10:03 am

    Great shots. I have met some of these sharks on a dive expedition to Gaudelupe Island with Hollywood Divers in CA. It was amazing! We never left the protection of our cages except when one of the smaller 12-14 ft males mistook one of the HD cameras for food and preceded to enter our cage. FUN. No one was hurt but it was an eye opener. The strange part was that everyone on the boat that felt and saw this awesome power didnt hesitate to get back in the water. That included a lovely lady who was here from the midwest to face her fear of sharks. She was the one holding the camera when the shark tore through the cage. We must protect these amazing predators they keep our oceans in balance.

    By: killerkerr@gmail.com
  21. January 17, 2013, 12:47 pm

    My friend's leg was bit off by a shark just last week. Keep up the good work guys!

    By: mikemike@gmail.com

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