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Want to be a shark cinematographer? Joe Romeiro shows the way

(CNN) – Let’s say you are ready to give up your humor job and turn it into a not-so-typical, ever-dangerous, adrenaline-fueled career.

If so, shark cinematography may be a good fit for you. That means, if you are okay with the possibility of a 1,400 pound tiger shark occasionally stealing your camera equipment. Or a mako shark hanging over you during a night dive.

All in one day work for Joe Romeiro, the cinematic extradition of sharks. For the past decade, his main focus has been shooting some of the world’s largest predatory marine animals.

You name it, he filmed it. From the great white squirrels in Cuba to the tiger sharks in the Bahamas and the hammer in the Galapagos Islands, which can grow up to 20 feet tall.

Joe Romeiro pointing his finger up, saying he got the ball from a tiger shark.

Joe Romeiro pointing his finger up, saying he got the ball from a tiger shark.

Mike Dornellas / Discovery Channel

This begs the question: Why does he swim towards sharks when most people do the opposite?

Simply: With years of careful research and first-hand knowledge, he knows the chances of being fatally attacked are extremely slim. Sharks are not mere human-eating machines that “Jaws” made them to be.

For Romeiro, the obsession began at the age of 4 when his family moved from the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, to the United States. He could not speak English, so he focused mainly on monster movies and natural history movies that did not require translation. Sharks every time they were on screen, he retreated.

“Through this I found my first heroes,” he recalls.

“I try to change the way people see sharks”

In adulthood, fascination continued to build. Starting this hobby in a career just made sense.

“I was shooting and diving all the time, and I made the conscious decision one day to just go for it,” he says.

Romeiro was certified by PADI, NAUI and SSI, scuba schools that teach diving skills, in his 20s.

He started filming sharks right away with a small camera, and after about 15 years, he had worked his way up to impressive cinema systems, used to film movies in Hollywood. Although he has followed the advice of mentors along the way, he is a self-taught director.

Romeiro and the crew saw more than 10 mako sharks the day he took this picture.

Romeiro and the crew saw more than 10 mako sharks the day he took this picture.

Joe Romeiro

He eventually snatched a really impressive white shark stroke and sent it to a producer at Discovery Channel Shark Week (August 9-16 this year). This opened several doors and eventually led him to host and produce for Shark Week.

Soon a decade ago and his outfit now costs more than the price of a start-up house and Discovery Channel, the BBC and National Geographic fly it around the world to film everything from makos, the world’s fastest shark, to gentle whale sharks , which can be increased up to the length of the school bus.

“I try to change the way people see sharks through the photography and videos I create,” he says. “It allows people to see how these sharks interact with me and how they behave in their natural environment.”

One thing is for sure: It’s not your typical job from 9 to 5. While most people only think about sharks for a few weeks each summer, Romeiro has sharks in his brain every day of the week all year round.

When he is not living around the globe to film toothed creatures, he is at home collecting footage on Rhode Island, brainstorming ideas for upcoming shows, sketching sharks, and serving as CEO of the Shark Atlantic Institute. All in the name of shark conservation.

A big hammer at night

A big hammer at night

Joe Romeiro

Clashes from dangerous encounters

Needless to say, Romeiro’s career path keeps him on his toes.

“I’ve had a lot of close calls,” he says. “They were all my fault or someone else’s, but never the shark.”

While diving on Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, for example, there was a curious female letting her spin. While confused with some other tiger sharks, that curious female went to grab Romeiro’s head from above.

“Luckily I noticed the reactions on my friends’ faces, and I knew she was above me. I was able to push her gently.”

In another shot he was inside a shark cage that fell over and retreated after a boat with him still inside.

Guadalupe Island is one of the best places to see large white sharks, Romeiro said.

Guadalupe Island is one of the best places to see large white sharks, Romeiro said.

Joe Romeiro

That said, his work is not ultimately routine. And that is exactly its attraction.

Peaceful meetings, believe it or not, are the norm, however. Take for example the time when he removed a blow from the shark’s mouth and rose to eye level as if to say thank you.

Or the first time he met Emma, ​​a famous female tiger shark who frequents the Bahamas, for the first time. She is what Romeiro calls the supermodel shark because she is willing to let you get close.

“Once you see them long enough, you can tell that different individuals have different personalities,” he explains. “You can see one, and it’s like seeing a friend.”

When it comes to this strange and wonderful career he conceives, Romeiro says it is a dream come true – and being able to educate people about his favorite marine animal is an added bonus.

The tool is serious

On any given shark filming excursion, Romeiro transfer gears include: his RED Weapon 8K digital camera, PhantomVEO, Canon 1DXII, Mavic Pro and GoPro.

“We use the same cameras you see used in Hollywood movies,” he says. “Just inside a metal box, waterproof.”

Security precautions include his wife, Lauren Benoit, who is also a cameraman. They keep an eye on each other. Plus, there are always three sets of trauma on board with every safety item imaginable from bandage to tournequets.

When it comes to mastering the art of shooting these apex predators, Romeiro says it is important to keep your head in a turn. These are wildlife after all and therefore unpredictable.

Jamin Martinelli holds a tiger shark in the bay while Joe Romeiro shoots the meeting.

Jamin Martinelli holds a tiger shark in the bay while Joe Romeiro shoots the encounter.

Michael Dornellas / Discovery Channel

Beyond that, ensuring your white balance is important. And, of course, dual control to make sure your camera is on and rotating.

“Ten percent is being there and 90 percent are preparing,” he says. “There are so many shots missing without having a camera at a slight ease or one not turning on and rolling.”

No matter what role you want to play – whether it is a videographer, sub-capital, cameraman in charge, sound technician, lighting technician, writer, producer, narrator or editor – it is definitely a competitive field.

But for those who are persistent enough to make it a career, it can certainly be a rewarding one. Romeiro’s best advice is to never give up.

“You only fail at things that you eventually give up,” he says. “I’ve always believed it, and at least for me it has been a truth.”

Do you have what it takes?

During non-pandemic times, Romeiro and his wife lead shark expeditions from the base of their Rhode Island home from June through October. They teach serious underwater photographers and videographers how to master the craft.

Subjects of the photo: blue sharks and macaws. Background: Emerald and blue water about 20 to 40 miles off the coast.

Do not be surprised if you also encounter twilight, quiet hammer, tiger and live sharks. If you are lucky, maybe even a strong shark, porbeagle or the great white shark. They have even come across random whale sharks.

They also led expeditions to the Bahamas in search of tiger sharks, ocean whitetips and large hammers. However, all of these trips are pending for now due to the Covid-19. Check the website for updates.

Expeditions are $ 500 a day for a 12-hour day.

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