Interview with a Photographer
We have invited one of the most passionate divers about diving and photography that I have had the pleasure of meeting. A super simple and humble person who makes you happy with the presence of him in each shared dive. And he is with us today to share bubbles and anecdotes about the sea, about his beginnings and, above all, his love of him for underwater photography.
- For those who don’t know you, tell us… What’s your name?
I am Joan Pereyra Tur, Ibizan by birth, all my life I have lived close to the sea, when I was very little I spent summers and weekends in a little house next to the sea in Es Viver, we were there all day, snorkeling, rowing with a boat, sailing and fishing, with rod, nets and then underwater fishing.
- What did you dedicate your whole life to?
I have been a veterinarian, for many years because of work, starting a family I left the sea but I returned to return to it 8 or 9 years ago, I went to the SCUBA IBIZA diving center and there I got all my qualifications and made friends and diving partners forever .
- When was the first time you dived?
My first dive was at 16 years old, at that time there was still no qualification, a friend worked in a center where they repaired pneumatics and loaded bottles with air. On Sundays we would take bottles and go diving on our own. We did it for approximately 3 years until I went to study in Zaragoza.
We were very curious about the entire underwater world, Jacques Cousteau’s documentaries were very important in our time, he even had his encyclopedia.
- What did you expect to find?
I knew what I would find because I already knew it but being able to breathe underwater was a great discovery.
- What was it that dazzled you the most?
Everything I saw, I have always been very curious and now 40 years later I am still the same, in each dive I find something that fascinates me. Many times I say that I studied Veterinary Medicine because I had more economic opportunities than Biological but I think I have always been more of a biologist than a veterinarian.
- Did you study any specialization in aquatic animals?
No, I am totally self-taught but I find out about books or people specialized in nudibranchs to acquire knowledge and be able to transmit them to others.
Since I was a kid I like animals, the sea. As I have told you before, I have always been surrounded by animals, the sea and everything related to nature, I have belonged to different environmental groups for more than 40 years, I have always been very aware of preserving our environment from a very young age.
- When did you decide to start photography?
The first photo was in the summer of 1979 of a black and white and out of focus seabream, then some photos of shipwrecks that were in the Marina Botafoch, without a doubt at that time the photos that were taken were few for their cost.
When I started diving 8 years ago I bought a GoPro and I have been evolving.
- What do you feel when you are under the sea?
I feel in another world, one has to try it to understand it, when you put your head under the water a world so different opens up that it seems unreal. I am retired and I no longer work and dive every day of the year, both day and night, and believe me it’s addictive, there are so many things to see and discover almost in front of our houses that many people think that the photos I take are of the tropics or very distant places and we have them a few meters from where we live.
- Do you have something specific that you like to photograph? Why?
I like to photograph everything, but I lean more towards small things, the macro fascinates me, seeing nudibranchs of a few millimeters with very striking colors to warn of their toxicity fascinates me; Night photography is more difficult, but it is very rewarding and underwater life changes radically compared to the day. Why so much passion for nudis? What spoil you?I discovered nudibranchs thanks to Marisol Torres and Paulo Peixoto; There a fascinating world of shapes, sizes, and colors opened up to me, some of only a scant 5 mm to 7 or 8 centimeters, with almost extraterrestrial shapes and very striking colors. The problem is to find them, each species has its time of year, its preferred food, there are those that are carnivores (they eat other nudis or fish eggs), others eat sponges, hydrozoans, and different algae, some are diurnal but others are nocturnal and each species has a predilection for ocean currents or more or less deep sites, …..
- What is different for you between traditional photography and underwater photography?
Everything, you have to think that underwater you have little time to think about putting the parameters to the camera, the dives last about 60 minutes, you have to control the buoyancy, air consumption and many times the current or the swell. On land, you have more support to take a photo and more time to take it.
I think that underwater photography is complicated, difficult and the equipment is expensive but the satisfaction of taking the photos makes up for it. These days equipment is getting quite cheap or can be bought second-hand and start with decent equipment at reasonable prices.
- What was the most difficult photograph?
I don’t have a more difficult photo than others, I am a bit obsessive and when I want to photograph something, in particular, I look for it until I find it and if I take a good picture of it I am already the happiest man in the world.
The photo that took me the most hours to take was the wren with the laying of eggs in its mouth, these fish are the males that keep the fertilized eggs in their mouth and when they do they become scary, they live alone in caves or crevices. When you approach them they either go into the cave or turn their back on you.
One day, in Cala Moli, I saw a solitary wren in a small cave and it seemed that it was keeping the eggs in its mouth, I returned to watch the fish every day for 3 or 4 days, it got used to my presence and every time it hid less in his cave. I spent 2 or 3 hours a day observing their behavior, I saw that every 3 or 4 minutes the fish opens its mouth to expel the eggs for a few tenths of a second and swallow them again and thus oxygenate the eggs. After about 6 to 9 hours of being with him, I got the desired photo.
- Have you ever felt in danger for wanting to take the best shot of a photo?
Never, I am very aware that humans are not prepared for the underwater world and no matter how much equipment we have, it can fail. I respect the sea a lot, I know what my limitations are and you have to think that, in underwater photography, light is essential, if I can take a photo at a depth of 5 meters, I will not go down to 10 meters.
- How do you deal with garbage in the sea?
The truth is that I usually see some garbage in the dives but not as much as people think, I carry a net and I collect everything I can. It is different in other countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Central America where you see so much garbage that it makes your hair stand on end, but I think these countries are slowly changing.
- Do you notice any change in the Mediterranean from your beginnings to today?
Honestly no, in places that are not marine reserves you see less fish but within the reserves life is spectacular.
- Your best anecdote at sea.
I do not have any specific anecdote, but being able to surround myself with my diving friends and spend a day at sea is my best reward and if we also see something interesting it is already for 10.
I have been diving with SCUBA IBIZA for 8 years, we see each other every week of the year and we are already like a big family and that for me is as important as diving.
- Have you ever won a photography award? Which? And when and why photo?
I have only appeared in three photography competitions, two in Formentera and another at the Balearic level, and in the two competitions in Formentera I got a prize, last year best macro with a nudibranch.
Congratulations on that award !!
- And with the one you won is your favorite or what is your favorite photo
As I have mentioned before, the photo of the wren is one of the ones I like the most because of the work and the hours that the two of us (me and the fish) spent until we got the photo.
Joan Thank you for dedicating a little bit of your day to us, it has been a pleasure to chat with you and your story and your love for animals and underwater photography are fascinating. You’ve undoubtedly done an excellent job with that photo of the wren.
Readers as I always tell you …
Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea.