Brian Skerry
Skerry at Boston University c. 2011
Born1961
EducationB.A. in Media and Communications
Alma materWorcester State College (1984)
Occupations
EmployerFreelancer
Known forNational Geographic photography
Notable workSecrets of the Whales
AwardsPrimetime Emmy Award
2021 Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series – Producer
Websitebrianskerry.com

Brian Skerry is an American photojournalist and film producer specializing in marine life and ocean environments. Since 1998 he has been a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine with more than 30 stories to his credit, including 6 covers. In 2021 Skerry won a Primetime Emmy Award for his role as producer in the miniseries, Secrets of the Whales.

Early life and education

Skerry was born in Milford, Massachusetts in 1961, and grew up in Uxbridge.[1] Skerry began SCUBA diving in 1977, at 15 years old and received his first SCUBA certification in 1978. He has stated that he was drawn to the water from a very young age and was always fascinated by ocean documentaries, along with the movies Jaws (1975) and The Deep (1977)[2]

After studying at Quinsigamond Community College, where he earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts,[3] he went on to Worcester State College earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications Media in 1984.[4]

Career

Skerry worked on a diving charter boat based on the coast of Rhode Island from 1982–1992, taking divers out to explore New England shipwrecks.[5] His early photography focused on marine life and shipwrecks. His first published photograph was in 1984 in The Boston Globe newspaper, an image of a shipwreck in Boston Harbor.[6] During the 1990s he published photos and wrote stories for a variety of scuba diving magazines.[7] His first book was published in 1995, Complete Wreck Diving, with co-author Henry Keatts.[8] In 1996 he was the first to photograph a living Oarfish, an animal that inspired sea serpent legends.[9] In 2015 Skerry was named a Nikon Ambassador (United States).[10]

National Geographic

In 1998 Skerry received his first assignment for National Geographic. In a 2021 article in The Maine Magazine, Skerry recalls Bill Curtsinger, one of the first underwater photographers, turning down a National Geographic magazine photo shoot of the 1717 pirate shipwreck Whydah Gally, buried in the sand off Cape Cod. Curtsinger turned down the job due to a scheduling conflict but put in a good word for Skerry, who in turn, took the story assignment.[11] Skerry had his photos published in the May 1999 edition of National Geographic.[12]

Skerry has been credited with more than 30 stories for National Geographic,[13] including six on the front cover of the magazine.a The subjects of his stories have included species such as harp seals,[14] squid,[15] right whales,[16] Leatherback sea turtles,[17] bluefin tuna,[18] dolphins[19] and coral reefs.[20] Other stories have featured locations such as the Southern Line Islands,[21] Ireland,[22] Marine reserves of New Zealand,[23] the Phoenix Islands,[24] Japan,[25] the Mesoamerican Reef,[26] and in his home state, the Gulf of Maine.[11]

In 2016 National Geographic published three consecutive stories photographed by Skerry about sharks.[27][28][29] While on assignment for National Geographic on September 1, 2016, he photographed U.S. President Barack Obama snorkeling in the waters off Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, which lies within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.[30] It was the first photograph ever taken of a President of the United States underwater.[31]

Secrets of the Whales

Orca, a whale featured in the miniseries co-produced by Skerry, Secrets of the Whales.

Main article: Secrets of the Whales

Secrets of the Whales was a multi-platform project Skerry created for National Geographic in 2017 about the science of whale culture. He credits the work of Canadian whale biologist Shane Gero as his inspiration for this project.[32] Skerry proposed the project to National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Television and National Geographic Books and each division approved their respective project.[33]

The cover story in National Geographic magazine appeared in the May 2021 issue, written by Craig Welch and photographed by Skerry.[34] A book was published in April 2021 by National Geographic Books with the same name, written and photographed by Skerry.[35] The four part miniseries, executive produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver, premiered April 22, 2021, on Disney+. Skerry produced and starred in the miniseries, as well as providing underwater cinematography.[36]

The documentary series was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. On September 19, 2021 the miniseries was a winner in the category Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series which was awarded to Skerry and the producers of the show.[37] The film was also nominated for two awards from the Online Film & Television Association for best narration and Best Cinematography in a Variety, Sketch, Nonfiction, or Reality Program.[38] At the Jackson Wild 2021 Media Awards Secrets of the Whales was awarded Winner: Limited Series[39] and at the 2021 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital, Skerry was awarded the Shared Earth Foundation Award for Advocacy.[40]

Conservation

In 2012 Skerry partnered with the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston to create The New England Ocean Odyssey.[41]

Skerry lectures on issues of visual storytelling and ocean conservation and exploration, having presented at venues including The United Nations General Assembly,[42] The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, TED Talks, The National Press Club in Washington, DC, The Royal Geographical Society in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.[42] He's been a guest on several television programs including CBS This Morning,[43] Nightline,[44] Anderson Cooper Full Circle[45] and is a frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts.[46]

Skerry is a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers,[47] and the Explorer-In-Residence at the New England Aquarium.[48]

Awards and recognition

At the end of five hours in the cold water... I had this one chance and one frame and that one instant. I was ready. It came down to one second. That is the beauty of photography. It's a moment in time and it vanishes like a ghost but if you have a photo, you have it forever.

— Skerry, Brian[49]

Secrets of the Whales

Awards for the miniseries, Secrets of the Whales for which Skerry was a Producer.

Exhibitions

Bibliography

National Geographic cover stories

Skerry has six published photographs on the cover of National Geographic.a

Cover stories
# Title Year About Location Ref
1
Harp Seals
2004
Harp seals  Canada
2
The Global Fish Crisis: Still Waters
2007
Commercial, Industrial overfishing Global
3
The Global Fish Crisis: Blue Haven
2007
Marine reserves of New Zealand  New Zealand
4
It's Time for a Conversation
2015
Dolphin cognition Global
5
Saving the Seas
2017
  • Gulf of Mexico
6
Secrets of the Whales
2021
Whale culture Global
7
2021 The Year in Pictures
2022
Grey seal New England

Books

Books
# Title Year Author Publisher ISBN
1
Complete Wreck Diving: A Guide to Diving Wrecks
1995
Skerry, Brian; Keatts, Henry Aqua Quest Publications ISBN 978-1-88165-230-4
2
A Whale On Her Own: The True Story of Wilma the Beluga Whale
2000
Skerry, Brian Blackbirch Press ISBN 978-1-56711-431-7
3
Successful Underwater Photography
2002
Skerry, Brian; Hall, Howard Amphoto Books ISBN 978-0-81745-927-7
4
Adventure Beneath the Sea: Living in an Underwater Science Station
2010
  • Skerry, Brian;
  • Mallory, Kenneth
Boyds Mills Press ISBN 978-1-59078-607-9
5
Face to Face With Manatees
2010
Skerry, Brian National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42630-617-4
6
Ocean Soul
2011
Skerry, Brian National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42620-816-4
7
From Above And Below: Man And The Sea
2013
Thames & Hudson ISBN 978-0-50051-690-4
8
Ocean Counting
2013
Skerry, Brian; Lawless, Janet National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42631-116-1
9
The Whale Who Won Hearts
2014
  • Skerry, Brian;
  • Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner
National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42631-520-6
10
Shark
2017
Skerry, Brian National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42621-910-8
11
The Ultimate Book of Sharks
2018
  • Skerry, Brian;
  • Carney, Elizabeth;
  • Flynn, Sarah Wassner
National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42633-071-1
12
Secrets of the Whales
2021
Skerry, Brian National Geographic Books ISBN 978-1-42622-187-3

Film, Television and video

Film
Title Year Format Distributor About Role Awards
Hitler's lost sub
2000
Streaming PBS German U-boat Videographer
Close Encounters of the Giant Kind
2009
Streaming Nat Geo Channel Right whale Self
A Magical Day with a Right Whale
2011
Streaming Nat Geo Channel Southern right whale Self
The Amazing Squid
2012
Streaming Nat Geo Channel Caribbean reef squid Self
The Mermaid Myth
2012
Streaming Nat Geo Channel Manatees Self
Brian Skerry: Ocean Soul
2012
Streaming Nat Geo Channel Marine life Self
Why great white sharks are a mystery to scientists
2016
News media CBS Mornings Great white sharks Self
Bluefin
2016
Documentary Film Board of Canada Bluefin tuna Self
Sea of Hope
2017
Documentary Nat Geo Channel World's oceans Self
Mission: Tierschutz
2019
Documentary Nat Geo Channel Sharks Self
Shark Edan
2020
Documentary Nat Geo Channel Sharks Self
The Ocean's Glory - and Horror
2019
Streaming TED Underwater photography Self
Brian Skerry showcases life under the sea
2021
News media CBS Mornings New England Aquarium Self
Secrets of the Whales
2021
Miniseries
Whales Emmy[37]
Return of the White Shark
2023
Documentary National Geographic channel & Disney+ Great white sharks Producer
World at War Post Documentary True Blue Films World's oceans Self

Notes

a.^ Seven articles in six issues. There are two articles in the same issue (April 2007).
b.^ There were four versions of this issue of the magazine, each with a different photograph. Skerry's cover photo was one of these four.

References

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  2. ^ "10 Questions with Brian Skerry". divedui.com. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Who Are Quinsigamond Community College's Most Influential Alumni?". academicinfluence.com. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  4. ^ "Alumni Profiles: Brian J. Skerry '84". Worcester State University. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
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  7. ^ Powell, Kelly (3 July 2017). "National Geographic's Brian Skerry to talk 'connecting the dots' with underwater photography". The Chautauqua Daily. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
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  12. ^ Webster, Donovan (May 1999). "Pirates of the Whydah". National Geographic. Vol. 195, no. 5. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 64. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  13. ^ Allen, Mel; Skerry, Brian (March 2021). "The Ocean Evangelist: Underwater Photographer Brian Skerry". Yankee. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
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  15. ^ Hanlon, Roger (August 2004). "Squid". National Geographic. Vol. 206, no. 2. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 30. Retrieved 8 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  16. ^ Chadwick, Douglas H. (October 2008). "Right Whale Watch". National Geographic. Vol. 214, no. 4. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 100. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  17. ^ Appennzeller, Tim (May 2009). "Leatherback Turtle". National Geographic. Vol. 215, no. 5. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 122. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  18. ^ Brower, Kenneth (March 2014). "Quicksilver Tuna". National Geographic. Vol. 225, no. 3. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 66. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  19. ^ a b Foer, Joshua (May 2015). "It's Time for a Conversation". National Geographic. Vol. 227, no. 5. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 30. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  20. ^ Warne, Kennedy (July 2008). "Kingman Reef". National Geographic. Vol. 214, no. 1. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 144. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  21. ^ Warne, Kennedy (September 2014). "A World Apart". National Geographic. Vol. 226, no. 3. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 114. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  22. ^ Eeckhout, Peter (March 2005). "Underneath Ireland". National Geographic. Vol. 207, no. 3. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 58. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  23. ^ a b Warne, Kennedy (April 2007). "The Global Fish Crisis: Blue Haven". National Geographic. Vol. 211, no. 4. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 70. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required) note
  24. ^ Stone, Gregory G. (January 2011). "Phoenix Islands Island". National Geographic. Vol. 219, no. 1. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 70. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  25. ^ Berwald, Juli (November 2010). "3 Degrees of Japan's Seas". National Geographic. Vol. 218, no. 5. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 90. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  26. ^ Skerry, Brian (October 2012). "Amazing Mesoamerican Reef". National Geographic. Vol. 222, no. 4. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 92. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  27. ^ Hodges, Glen (June 2016). "Swimming with Tigers". National Geographic. Vol. 229, no. 6. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 82. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  28. ^ Vance, Erik (July 2016). "Great White Mystery". National Geographic. Vol. 230, no. 1. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 84. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  29. ^ Hodges, Glen (August 2016). "The Shipwreck Shark". National Geographic. Vol. 230, no. 2. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 112. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
  30. ^ a b Barnett, Cynthia (February 2017). "Saving the Seals". National Geographic. Vol. 231, no. 2. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 54. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)
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  35. ^ Skerry, Brian (2021). Secrets of the Whales. National Geographic Society. ISBN 978-1-42622-187-3 – via Google Books.
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  66. ^ Tyson, Mary (October 20, 2023). "Free Outdoor Exhibitions To See In Paris Right Now". parisbeacon.com. Paris beacon. Retrieved October 23, 2023. 5. Planet Ocean: Free Exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Brian Skerry at Bercy Village
  67. ^ Montaigne, Fen (April 2007). "The Global Fish Crisis: Still Waters". National Geographic. Vol. 211, no. 4. Photographs by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 42. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required) note
  68. ^ Staff writers (January 2022). "2021 The Year in Pictures". National Geographic. Vol. 241, no. 1. Photograph by Brian Skerry. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 3. Retrieved 6 December 2022.  – via National Geographic archive (subscription required)note