From the freezing climes of Antarctica and Greenland to the heat and humidity of the Amazon, Chuck Davis has worked as a specialist in marine and underwater photography and cinematography. His motion picture credits include work on numerous IMAX films, including Ring of Fire (underwater lava scenes), Whales, The Greatest Places, Amazing Journeys, Search for the Great Sharks, and the Academy Award-nominated, Alaska: Spirit of the Wild and The Living Sea (underwater/marine scenes of Monterey Bay). For over twenty years, Davis worked as a freelance cinematographer and still photographer with the Cousteau filming teams working with the late Jacques Yves Cousteau and his son Jean-Michel during production of the Rediscovery of the World TV series and later, as a director of photography on Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures PBS television series.
Davis has also worked on feature films such as Warner Brothers’ SPHERE, 20th Century Fox/Walden Media’s, Chasing Mavericks, Wavelength Pictures’ Tao of Surfing (currently in production) as well as documentary projects for the BBC, CBS, NBC/Universal, Discovery/Learning Channel, and National Geographic Channel. Davis was the director of photography for the Smithsonian’s Who We Are (a special dome-theater film for the National Museum for the American Indian, in Washington, D.C.), and the avant-garde production, Crystal Palace, filmed in Papua New Guinea for director, Mathias Poledna.
Davis’s still photographs have been widely published in magazines such as LensWork, B +W, ORION, LIFE, National Geographic, Audubon, Nature’s Best, Outside, French Terre Sauvage, BBC Wildlife, Ocean Realm and numerous Cousteau publications. His work is included in several private and corporate collections including the permanent photographic collection of the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA. His work has been included in special exhibitions by the Ansel Adams Gallery and multi-photographer exhibits at the National Geographic Society/Explorer’s Hall, the Center for Photographic Art, the Monterey Museum of Art, and Brooks Institute. Davis is the author/photographer of California Reefs (Chronicle Books) and has earned degrees in fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and in filmmaking from the Brooks Institute. The main thrust in Davis’ personal work is in helping to stimulate marine environmental awareness and conservation via the use of marine and underwater imagery.
Jacques Yves Cousteau has said, “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” As an underwater photographer, I firmly believe that we are born of the sea. We are part of the ocean, and it is part of us. We are inextricably connected. Even if one is standing far inland, on a landlocked plateau, thousands of feet above sea level, all one has to do is look up at the sky (as I did many years ago, when I was filming in Tibet on the Chang Tang Plateau, high in the Himalayas) and there it is in the clouds: water vapor and evidence of the ocean’s life-sustaining moisture evaporated from the sea, which will eventually rain down on Earth, sustaining terrestrial life, and be carried to sea again by streams and rivers. Without our oceans, life as we know it would cease to exist. What we do to the sea — and the stewardship we may extend to it — we ultimately do to and for ourselves. It is this truth — this connection — that I strive to make visible through my work.