The Underwater Project by Mark Tipple

Mark Tipple from Sydney has emerged as a notable documentary photographer over the past 3 years. Having worked closely with organizations seeking social change in Australia and surrounding countries, his progression has seen the development of Gallery For Justice, a not-for-profit aiming to empower story telling through fine art prints documenting issues of social justice.

As the principal photographer of The Underwater Project; an ongoing reportage showcasing Australia’s relationship with the ocean, Mark aims to connect the three areas of his work to bring light to stories traditional media shies away from.

At his website, Mark recounts:

10 years ago after high school I spent a few years traveling around Australia in an old station wagon filming surfing, clutching to dreams of making it in the surf film industry that would facilitate my future of cruising around the world to exotic beaches filming perfect waves. While the surfing and conditions were what I wanted to be filming, the images always left me wanting more. After trying countless experiments of camera positions (helmet camera, board camera) and different places to film while in the water (pole extensions, different lenses), I still couldn’t capture what I was seeing in my mind.

Fast forward to 2009 and after directing a film in Mexico on shark divers I had an underwater camera which we used to get closer to the sharks than our larger cameras physically could, upon returning to Sydney I started shooting surfing again, however this time from below. A month later I was shooting a small shorebreak and was caught inside by a large set, as I dove under I noticed a group of kids next to me. I turned the camera onto them and shot them as they contorted and struggled to avoid the wave above; surfacing I glanced at the lcd screen and the first Underwater Project image was there. Entitled ‘Escape’, to this day it’s as close to the images that I was chasing a decade ago. “

The success of The Underwater Project has helped to raise awareness of Mark’s work on issues of social equality. Check out his website for, amongst others, his portfolios on the child begging syndicates of Jakarta, the workers of the landfill of Bekasi in East Jakarta and the city’s shanty towns.

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