Simone Gori Photography
I’m an extreme photographer, when people start to run away I start to shoot 🙂 Which implies shooting to wild apex predators in their environment (sharks of any species with no cage, alligators, crocodiles, bears etc.), cave diving, free and scuba diving in remote locations, jumping out from a flying airplane with a parachute, photographing from helicopters with doors open or jumping down a mountain with paragliding, I do also landscape, urban, travel, street and astro-photography!
Tell Us About Yourself?
I have a very unusual background: I’m a University Professor of Psychology, a neuroscientist, a vision scientist and a former professional MMA fighter (yes cage there!) but I photographed since I was a kid starting with complete manual cameras and film!
I was born in Florence, Italy, but I also lived in Germany, in the USA and I worked for several Universities in different cities of Italy after I was back in my home country. When things started to be serious in photography and I became professional I was mainly doing landscapes and travel photos but later on the adventurist side of me took over and I started to do, for the majority of the time, extreme photography. I put myself in the conditions where most photographers will just take their gear and run away, in order to get very unusual and rare shots.
I love diving with sharks and alligators or into submerged caves and in general I enjoy shooting apex predators in their environment. Getting shots of these often-misunderstood creatures in the wild let me describe them to the audience in a different perspective helping them to get over the bad press surrounding them and change the people’s minds in the direction of conservation. Those animals are often key species for their environment instead of mindless killing machines and to preserve them means preserving entire habitats from destruction. Although my photography approach seems crazy and reckless at first glance it is the result of very accurate training and knowledge of animal behavior because the safety and respect of my photography subjects is always paramount!
My images ended up in international publications and also employed in animal preservation campaigns by the major world conservation organizations like Sea Shepherd. Lately I started to do astrophotography during special events like the red moon eclipse or the comet passage.
Do You Have A Good Tip for Us?
Due to my very peculiar kind of photos I discover that one of the most overlooked aspect of photography is how important is the knowledge of your subject, no matter if you are going to shoot a city or a crocodile making an in-depth research of your subject before you are going to photograph that is the piece of advice that I feel the most important I can share.
My suggestion is not being superficial, don’t check some shots on social media and try to emulate them, go into details, knowledge is like wearing special glasses, you will notice, things, behavior, details that other people will overlook and you will consequently being able to photograph aspects of your subject that most will neglect and in some cases, for example if you are in a water with an alligator it can even save your life because you will be able to spot a subtle but maybe relevant sign of distress in the animal in front of you!
In short: study your subject before the photoshoot as much as you can, picking the right sources: it will never be a waste of time 🙂
How I was Close to Die Due to a Heart Attack During a Photoshoot!
Ok I went a little dramatic in this title but read it before judging that as a strawman 😛
OK I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Florida and Bahamas to scuba diving with sharks and do a photoshoot. There you can find several shark species and they differ a lot in terms of the danger that is involved. A shark attack is extremely rare in any case and this activity, although without any protection like cages is way safer than it looks like, however some species really need to be observed with extra caution. The most dangerous shark for humans is, according to several expert sources, the bull shark and not the great white as many people think.
I was scuba diving with several bull sharks that were swimming around me and I was taking pictures, no other species were around at the moment. Bull sharks although very unpredictable in their behavior, tend to be shy and when they stop being so it is time to call the dive and go out of water, especially if they touch you, no one play with them! Till the following event that I describe below, they were absolutely relaxed circling me at a safe distance… When I noticed that the dive master was waving at me, I thought that she was just searching my attention to let me know her position, we always need to be aware of the position of the team under water to watch the safety of the entire small group of the expedition…. Well she was trying to signal something different…. A second after I was bumped by a huge “object” in the back and literally hauled around for a few meters in the open water, a 3 meters long shark was transporting me like a ragdoll!
I thought it was a bull shark then my heart skipped a beat but I saw the second dorsal fin and I recognized that was a lemon shark, still potentially lethal OK, but known for being much more curious and way less aggressive and dangerous, of course it wasn’t a shark attack but just very inquisitive shark checking out what I was but trust me, the seconds I needed to realize that were long enough to put me close to a heart attack 🙂
This is an example of how far I can go in order to document these amazing animals!
What is in your bag
I normally go out with my Canon 5D Mark IV, my 6D and my 40D plus a bunch of lenses, primarily, the 10-16 fisheye, the 12-24, the 24-105, the 40 pancake and the 70-200.
Plus, I often have with me the 1.4x and 2x extenders, the macro rings and the underwater housing. Tons of batteries and memory cards are always included in my bag as well.
What is never missed in my bag is my BlackRapid Double strap, because I always shoot with two cameras on dry land.
Ok Now I can hear you: ”Simone is saying that only because this is the BlackRapid website” Ok folks it may sound like that but to be honest this is simply the truth, I’m spartan with the gear, but I really felt in love with this piece, you can’t even imagine how much cumbersome and ridiculous I used to look with all these cameras hanged around my neck while I was walking around, really, it solved me a lot of issues and it saved me a tremendous amount of shots because my cameras are always handle and ready to go, then; yes we are in the BlackRapid website but yes I would say the exact same thing on another product website, try the BlackRapid straps and thank me later 🙂