The underwater models Whale Shark Fashion Shoot was the brainchild of US photographers Shawn Heinrichs and Kristian Schmidt.
Environmental photographer Shawn Heinrichs’s other-worldly photographs of models swimming with whale sharks off the Philippines coast have recently gone viral — and it’s easy to see why.
The captivating Whale Shark Fashion Shoot melds Heinrichs’ passion for scuba diving and photography with his love for marine wildlife. The images are the first in a series of projects meant to raise awareness for at-risk ocean-dwelling species.
We assembled a team composed of stunning models, a stylist and a dive specialist. Joining Kristian and I were team members including: Italian model Roberta Mancino (world sky diving champion and one of the world’s foremost wing-suit base jumpers), model Hannah Fraser (professional underwater model and real-life mermaid), Fazli Krasniqi (professional stylist) and Taro Smith (physiologist and artists).
Fast forward 4 months and the team found ourselves in a remote corner of the Philippines in the small village of Oslob. One year earlier I had released to the world the first ever images capturing the incredible relationship between these fishermen and whale sharks, where the fishermen had befriended whale sharks by hand feeding them scoops of tiny shrimp.
I teamed up with fashion/wildlife photographer Kristian Schmidt to redefine how the world views threatened marine species. I first met Kristian on a whale shark trip with our friend and ally Richard Branson and conservation organization WildAid (an NGO focused in reducing demand for endangered species), and we were immediately captivated by each others work. Recognizing that people only protect what they care about, we hatched a plan that would combine my underwater and marine life photography expertise with Kristian’s mastery of creative fashion photography.