A nature and wildlife cinematographer & photographer with a passion for showcasing the world's stunning natural diversity. Maxwel grew up on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia before travelling around the world evolving his skills as a cinematographer. Maxwel is a certified commercial diver, rebreather diver, underwater and above water
RED camera operator, tech diver, cave diver, experienced drone pilot, and acclaimed photographer. He's also a brand ambassador with Divesoft, and a proud Canadian!
What (or who) persuaded you to become a professional diver?
I developed a passion for the underwater world at a young age. I would snorkel and freedive in the local lakes and this was my gateway into choosing a career in diving. I was very fortunate to have parents who supported my decision to travel at a young age. When I was 17 I left home to backpack in Honduras. I ended up travelling to the Bay Islands in Honduras where I took my open water course. My instructor was a Kiwi named Orlando who seemed to have life all figured out! Living on a tropical island, teaching scuba diving...what could be better? He not only inspired me to become a diver but also to become an instructor. The next 8 years I spent travelling and working all over the world as a scuba instructor. I eventually hit a point in my career where I wanted to develop new skills so I went into the technical and commercial diving industries. Commercial diving was my solution to having a good paying career that allowed me to purchase my camera equipment. I used it as a stepping stone so I could eventually get a foot into the door of the film industry and pursue my dream career working as an underwater cinematographer.
Describe your biggest challenge when diving.
My biggest challenge in diving is choosing which lens to bring. Will today be macro or wide? Other underwater photographers will understand the struggle. We never want to miss out on an opportunity. Diving comes with many other challenges like visibility, surge, depth, deco limitations and much more, but combining this with a huge camera rig can often be a challenge, but that's one of the things I love most about diving. It can be cold and difficult, but the reward of unique imagery is always worth the effort!
Which diving achievement are you most proud of?
Winning an award at Jackson Wild 2021 for my film Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration. When my business partner Russell Clark and I started to piece together the ideas that would later transform into the film Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration, I could never have imagined that it would reach a global stage and receive such an honourable recognition as a Jackson Wild Media Award! The film is rooted in the simple passion I have for discovering new perspectives in natural history filming and telling the story of the “little guy”. News that our film was not only a finalist in two categories (Animal Behaviour Short Form and Ecosystem Short Form) but was the winner of Ecosystem Short Form was a dream come true. Standing on the Jackson Wild stage with some of the giants in the industry was humbling, and I am so thankful to all the people who have also used the power of media to help bring awareness to the fragile, yet resilient natural systems that need our responsible stewardship.
What was your first diving experience like?
It was like gaining the ability to fly. I was completely hooked. There’s nothing else in the world that gives me the same feeling that diving does. It opens a door to a large portion of the planet I've yet to explore. When you take a walk in a forest, most animals flee before you are even aware of their presence, underwater marine life often allows you to get close, and sometimes even comes to see you! The amount of life in a small area underwater can exceed what we see on land. There's a brilliant and beautiful world waiting in the ocean.
Why do you prefer rebreather?
Rebreathers are an essential tool for underwater camera operators. It allows me to stay underwater longer, dive deeper and most importantly it allows me to get closer to marine life whilst minimising the impact of my presence. Rebreathers recycle my breathing gas, so unlike open-circuit scuba you don't have an explosion of bubbles with every exhale. It is nearly silent, which is so important when filming wildlife.
What's your favorite diving gear?
My underwater camera setup is my favourite piece of gear. I love how modulear they can be, and how many accessories you can add or subtract. Mounting it on a DPV or quadpod for unique perspectives is always fun.
What's your favorite diving spot?
I'm a massive fan of diving in British Columbia. Where I live on Vancouver Island I'm surrounded by countless dive sites, and every season it offers something new to explore! During the summer I really enjoy fresh water diving in the lakes and river canyons of Vancouver Island. I’m drawn to these locations for the unique photography they present with tadpoles, lily pads, and schools of salmon. During the winter months diving with the stellar sea lions of Hornby Island is another favourite.