Eiko Jones is a photographer with a unique skill and specialty: he takes photos of flowers, underwater, and emphases their reflections upon the surface. Hailing from New Zealand and now known globally for his images, Eiko has been a photographer since age fourteen. Animals, specifically birds, have always captured his attention followed by coastal landscapes. In 2011, Eiko got interested in underwater photography via two eventful shark diving expeditions. Recently, he has taken his interest in water imagery and/or underwater photography to another level via his “flower reflections.”’

Eiko's dramatic, yet serene, photos manage to capture the line between the real and the surreal with clever use of lighting and angles.

His photos have won him awards and gotten him featured in many world-famous publications such as “National Geographic” and “Orion.”

Eiko is now exhibiting his images at fine art shows in North America. He uses his work to showcase the beauty and, to a lesser degree, raise awareness of eco-systems and the creatures that dwell within them. To that end, he is a proud member of Ocean Artists Society.

Eiko recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed his photography, his influences, and more.

Photography, flowers, and National Geographic

Meagan Meehan (MM): What initially inspired you to get into photography at age fourteen and what was it about animals, like birds, that made them such appealing subjects?

Eiko Jones (EJ): I used to keep aviaries of small birds when I grew up, and I loved taking photos of them and also then seeing them in the wild. This desire increased when I went to Australia by myself at age fourteen and saw so many amazing parrots flying free.

That was where I bought my first SLR camera. I grew up in the country and had a deep affinity to the wild surroundings where I roamed as I grew up.

MM: Your work has been displayed all over the world and in top-ranking magazines! So, why do you think you have achieved this level of success?

EJ: Mainly I believe that it is my passion for the subject. Whenever I start to explore new areas of photography, I get very involved and passionate about it.

Over time I have seen that my most successful images have come from the beginning of each new path when the sense of adventure and unknown is highest. Later as I get more familiar with a subject, my photos may get technically better, but the raw instinctual element may be not as apparent. I also study everything I can about technique, the subjects, and more. I ask lots of questions. Especially early on in my path to underwater photography I never hesitated to ask people I respected how they do what they do. I almost always found a willingness to help and guide. I now try to do the same for new photographers.

MM: Your photos have been featured in “National Geographic.” So, what did they depict, which edition were they in, and how did that incredible opportunity arise?

EJ: My underwater image of tadpoles swimming in a swamp gained the attention of “National Geographic” as soon as I sent it to them. It was featured in several places on their websites and books, as well as being published in the April 2013 edition of the magazine. This was a dream of mine, and probably most photographers, to have a picture in this magazine. The reason I think this particular image was successful was it depicted a mystical scene that transported people to an unknown but also familiar place.

So many people said they played as kids in lily ponds and with tadpoles and this image took them back to this time but uniquely. This “Cloud of Tadpoles” image is now a part of the new “Nat Geo's 50 greatest Landscapes” exhibit and also soon to be in Nat Geo's Fine Art galleries.

MM: You are now making a series of “underwater flower reflections” which are absolutely brilliant, so how did you come up with such a unique concept?

EJ: As an underwater photographer I have always been fascinated by the play of light in the shallow areas of pretty much any body of water. Particularly of interest to me is the reflective properties underneath the surface of the water.

With the proper camera placement and angle, I would see interesting depictions of the subject reflected upside down in the surface. I quite frequently put this element into my photographs of lily ponds and salmon. I wanted to do a project that would showcase this phenomenon and was always experimenting with it. I also had an idea to take images of flowers floating in the water and quickly realized this would be a good way to do this project. Highlighting the real and abstract image of the flowers underwater and the reflection became a passion for me. I spent almost three years scrounging flowers from floral shops, people gardens, and a few wildflowers, and then taking them into a swimming pool to shoot.

In this project, I found a way to do a series of work that is a bit more creative and artistic than my usual style of nature photography. It was fun working on this project in secret. I only just released the entire collection a few months ago.

ArtExpo, Ocean Artists Society, and goals

MM: What has been people’s reactions to your photos, especially the new flower reflections series?

EJ: One of the overwhelming reactions I get to my photography, in general, is that I show people a view of a scene that may be common to them (or not) but in a way that is uncommon. This is especially true of my underwater swamp images.

Because really not that many people put on a mask and fins and go swimming in their local ponds. The reaction to the flower images has been similar in that some of the images are of a simple red rose or a tulip that is an everyday object for people. But to see them photographed underwater in this abstract way is brand new. Quite frequently people ask me if the images are paintings or heavily manipulated images in Photoshop as they don't appear to be real. But this is just because they are being viewed in a way that is different. Freezing the motion of the ripple effects on the surface is what creates the abstract and often dramatic imagery.

MM: You displayed your beautiful flower reflection images at NYC’s ArtExpo 2018, so what was your experience of the show?

EJ: I didn't actually have a booth there. I was helping out my sister from New Zealand who was in the show for the first time with her art. But I visited with a lot of other artists and gallery owners and got some great feedback on my flower images. The show certainly was a great place to meet other creatives and view work that I didn't know about.

MM: You belong to the Ocean Artists Society, so what is their purpose and why would you recommend other artists join?

EJ: This is a society of passionate underwater artists who like to use their work to inspire people to have a greater appreciation and an awareness of our need to preserve the natural world around us.

Founded by incredibly talented artists such as Guy Harvey, Wyland, and Bob Talbot. It is an honor to be included in this group and help share our love of the ocean.

MM: What are your major goals for your future career—especially as it pertains to the new flower series— and is there anything more that you would like to discuss?

EJ: Most of my work in the past has been quite centered on the Pacific Northwest, and as such, I have a somewhat limited marketplace. With that in mind, I hope this new series of Underwater Flowers will enable me to have a larger reach. They are not location specific, so really anyone in the world could be interested in them.

So, my immediate goal is to establish a market for this new type of imagery. My mission since I have started my career is not to be a conservation photographer per se but to simply create an awareness and even more importantly an appreciation for the natural world that we are intrinsically linked to. I hope that I can cause an emotional response to my artwork and the subjects it depicts and, in this way, help make the world a better place.

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