Brian Skerry - National Geographic Underwater Photographer

From a very early age, I was inspired by the ocean. I used to watch Jeac Cousteau documentaries, I read National Geographic Magazine, and I knew that I wanted to explore the ocean.

It’s very rewarding to be a photographer. It has added layers to my life—to who I am—that I never could have imagined.

As photographers, we have a passion to create. To create works of art. A photographer wants to produce new work all the time. At Nat Geo, we pair down 60,000 pictures to a tray of 30 or 40, then we take those down to 10 for the magazine.

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There are the creative juices that get me going but there is also a feeling that I can do some good with that work. Photography has allowed me to make a difference, to feel like I'm doing something for my children, that I'm trying to preserve nature and leave some sort of legacy behind.

It's not a perfect world, but we can move that direction. I believe a combination of celebratory images and harder hitting pictures can move that dial.

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Any nature photographer wants to celebrate nature. I mean, it speaks to us at a DNA level. Our soul is ignited by great images of nature.

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God-willing, if I make it to be very old, I can still hold that camera in my hand—I may not be able to dive under polar ice or do some of the more ambitious things that I'm able to do today—but at some level I hope to always be able to do this. That's rare. To have a pursuit, a passion, that can last a lifetime, from the time you're a young person to the time you're quite old. And feel like you're enriching yourself. You're learning every time you go out there. And you're sharing it with others and inspiring other people in ways you can't imagine!

I feel a great responsibility to give back. I've been very lucky to do what I do. It's not about me; it's about sharing and giving back and helping anyone else that I can. Because, I think this is a pretty cool pursuit.

I started out with just a dream. If I can do it, then anyone can do it.