The Great Barrier Reef: How to capture moments

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Los Angeles, Written by Ayisha Rahman

In her assignment to work on a beautiful proposal for an Australian magazine, photographer Sara Cutkosky (CUTKOSKY) fell in love with the incredible environment that surrounds her and what she hopes to do with her work: capture inspiring scenes, especially those in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

As Cutkosky works, at any moment you could be watching marine life dive down to sites just off the shoreline, or below the waves, looking for their next meal. It’s an amazing site that you don’t want to miss. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A recent study, conducted by Australian scientists, concludes the reef is in big trouble due to pollution and climate change.

“I’ve already started seeing that in my photo shoots,” Cutkosky says of the changing conditions impacting the reef. “Not only is the coral dying, but the reef is going to get smaller.”

Cutkosky lived and worked on the reef during the past three months and captured some incredible scenes. A recent event, the “movies in the evening,” occurs after the sun sets each evening when the reef creates new life. As the water opens up and forms huge canyons (known as long fin fractures), these structures lead to new life, making all the difference in the coral reef ecosystem.

“There are huge changes happening and people are living in fear of losing their homes,” Cutkosky says.

“There’s a rising population and a rising climate, along with big pressure from fishing and pollution. Everyone wants to get involved, but it’s not an easy or simple process.”

There were days and nights that she slept out of the sun, including during the big fire.

“This was one of the biggest fires I’ve been involved with,” Cutkosky says. “I am a photographer, so I have to have a passion and I’ve got it. It’s something I’m really proud of.”

Cutkosky says she hopes to develop some lasting images, as well as photography techniques that she can carry with her for her career.

For now, she and her family are sharing her time with the reef — doing any and all activities it requests.

“It’s one of the places that we can share as a family, and my children love the place too,” Cutkosky says. “People who visit the Great Barrier Reef probably get the feeling that they’re the first to discover it.”

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