John Magee and the Sea
John Magee is an underwater photographer based in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. The famous and wonderful Great Barrier Reef is literally in his front yard.
His great passion is to explore the Reef and use his several cameras to specialise in recording its countless amazing tiny creatures; so often overlooked and upstaged by their mighty larger neighbours that share their unique coral environment. He has made thousands of dives not only on the Great Barrier Reef but on other reef locations in Micronesia; taking countless photographs for his extensive records over many years.
His love of the sea started as a bare-footed toddler exploring the chilly shallow rock-pools and seaweeds for crabs and other creatures stranded by the receding Atlantic tide along the west coast of Ireland. Television programmes featuring a young and now legendary David Attenborough introduced him to the exciting world of marine life and a particular black and white series on the Great Barrier Reef in far-away Australia left an ever-lasting impression, and a desire to see for himself, on his young mind. His fascination with marine creatures stayed with him throughout his teenage years and into adulthood. He obtained his first camera; an SLR, at fifteen and as his knowledge of cameras and techniques of photography grew more comprehensive he automatically thought of bringing a camera on some of his dives on his beloved Great Barrier Reef.
His many years of taking photographs made him realise that there was more to simply pointing a lens and pressing a button. He is now very mindful of the importance of quality over quantity and of the advice of French photographer Henri Certier-Bresson who said that “the first 10,000 pictures you take are your worst”.
As Cousteau famously remarked about the sea casting an everlasting spell over people who love it, John Magee has been smitten by its allure and he aspires to share the beauty of the miniature creatures that swim before his lens, with others.
My Photography Set Up
Currently I use the following equipment for my photography.
When the Great Barrier Reef is your back yard, you know you live in paradise.
John thinks himself very lucky to be able to take advantage of the reefs around the Cairns area every single week, but has seen lots of changes throughout his time here.
The Great Barrier Reef is a big, beautiful and diverse ecosystem that covers an area the size of Italy. A structure that size is bound to have its differences, for example, the north of Italy is very different to the south! The same can be said of the Great Barrier Reef. A lot has been made of the health of the biggest reef in the world and it gets confusing to know who to believe. The reef might be beautiful and diverse, but it is facing some serious threats to its health. Back to back bleaching events and other impacts of climate change have left parts of the Great Barrier Reef with lower coral cover than ever before but other parts of it are still at the levels they have always historically been and are thriving.
The same can be said of every reef in the world yet the Great Barrier Reef gets the most publicity.
The beauty of a diverse ecosystem is that the areas that are struggling have the ability to recover and are already doing so. Surveys in 2021 saw increases in coral cover in every single reef surveyed in the Cairns area; a sign of fantastic resilience.
Climate change may be the number one threat facing the planet but with your help we can give it a fighting chance. Coral is resilient and adaptive and will cope with slow changes in the environment, we just need to give it that chance by slowing down climate change as much as we can.