Photographer Focus

Phillip Puckey


Face to face with one of nature's finest killing machines, Phillip Puckey steadies his camera. Not many people in the world get the chance to be close-up to a great white shark, but through the wonderful photography of Phillip we are able to experience at least to a degree the predatory and deeply revered beast of the ocean. Beyond that, Phillip has had even rarer encounters with an albino humpback whale known as Migaloo amongst many other creatures and adventures.

The ocean's mysteries and wonders, as seen by Phillip Puckey. 

First of all, let’s talk equipment, what do you use to shoot with?

I shoot with a Sony A6500, 70-200mm f/ 2.8, 35mm f/2 & 10-18 f/4 for underwater along with the 35. All which fits in a 30L pack.

What experiences growing up has lead to your style of photography?

Fortunately my father had a huge influence, although he didn't shoot he introduced me the ocean and travel, living on a small catamaran. With the ability to be exposed to a variety of close and far coastlines I quickly developed a genuine love of the ocean with a feeling of being content I get from nothing else I do.

Swimming with sharks is something not many of us ever get a chance to do. How does that experience feel? 


A feeling of being directly connected to a food chain where you're not at the top... Humbling is a word too often used but it was!

I try to chase authentic encounters and avoid charters if it can be helped, I've had the pleasure to swim with tigers & bulls with just me and the sharks. I've wanted to play with white sharks for sometime, so I made my way to the Neptune Islands in South Australia. These guys are truly something else but burley and bait lines are used to lure them in.

One day it would be nice minus the cage.

How are you able to get close to the sharks?

Burley, bait lines, cage, patiences and three weeks on a liveaboard. 


You also had the unique and rare opportunity of swimming with an albino humpback whale, this must be one of, if not the best experience you have had photographing out in the ocean? 

This particular encounter will not be soon forgotten. The whole thing was pretty surreal, during a boat transfer from the bottom of Queensland to the top, the white whale named Migaloo crossed our path in 200ms of water and no land in sight. 

I've always had the mentality of putting in time, I'm normally the one on the water far before sunrise but I never thought I'd get to see this!


Can you talk us through this adventure and where you were?

Classic back yard of New Zealand, so I've been told it's the only place in the southern Hemisphere that you can land a plane on glaciers. It wasn't so much an adventure as it was during a commercial shoot for a small company. Although, there are back country huts that you can fly and hike to.. so definitely an adventure on the cards. 


Have you ever had any dangerous moments during your ocean photography?

I like to dive alone, which you shouldn't do, an hour from anywhere a bull shark charged me but it was fine, so not really.

Finally, are there any planned trips coming up that people can look forward to over on your Instagram?

I'd like to go play in Tahiti please.


Photographer: @phillip.puckey