The photographer

Silver Seas Gallery

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mbassador to the Marine Environment Photographer, Adventurer, Diver and Educator Ernest H. Brooks II was born to be a photographer. His Portuguese ancestry, rich in men-of-the-sea, virtually insured the ocean environment would play an important role in his life. As the son of Ernest H. Brooks, founder of the internationally-renowned Brooks Institute of Photography, Mr. Brooks was destined to follow in his father's footsteps for part of his life's journey before forging his own path. He graduated from Brooks Institute, served on the school's executive staff and in 1971 assumed the office of the president, a position he held until 2000 when the institute was sold to Career Education Corporation, CEC. Throughout his long tenure as the head of Brooks Institute, he carried out the duties that come with that corporate territory including keynote speaking at international conventions, working with national and international organizations and companies to enhance the industry, and encouraging photographic education and promoting photography as a universal language. Along the way, while fulfilling the responsibilities of his office, his achievements earned him numerous accolades and awards.


As a noted professional photographer, educator and ambassador to the industry, Mr. Brooks has won international acclaim for underwater photography and audio/visual presentation. As a working professional, he has contributed to numerous magazines and organizations including: Cousteau Society, California Highways, Ocean Realm, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Nature Conservancy and Natural Wildlife, to name only a few. He is a recipient of numerous honors and awards including: 1973 'Triton Award' Inner Space Pacifica, Hawaii; 1975 'NOGI' The Underwater Society of America; 1977 'National Award' Professional Photographers of America; 1971 through 1980 Hall of Fame elector Photographic Arts and Science Foundation; 1978 Camera Craftsmen of America; served on the National Advisory Council of the National Society of Arts and Letters; 'Hall of Fame' Underwater Photographic Society; was honored by the Oceanic Community of SSI and Nikon for 5000 hours beneath the sea 'Platinum Pro Diver Award'; and his most recent honor, 'The 1996 Partner's Award,' was received from the American Oceans Campaign for his lifelong commitment and dedication


His work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monterey Bay Aquarium Shark Exhibit, Yugoslavia 'Man in the Sea,' Our World Underwater, Smithsonian 'Planet Earth' and was also honored by the Smithsonian Institute in January of 1995. He is a member of the Professional Photographers of America and is one of forty photographers in the world admitted to the prestigious Camera Craftsmen of America. As a leader or principal member, Ernest H. Brooks II has participated in projects of international recognition including: the photographic investigation into the Shroud of Turin (1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project); and photo-documentation of Arctic research station activities (1977 sponsored by the McGinnis Foundation of Toronto, Canada). He was also a project leader and member of the international panel in the 'Focus on New Zealand' event in 1985, and led a photographic research and travel expedition to the Sea of Cortez aboard the Institute's research vessel, 'Just Love,' in 1986.


Mr. Brooks has been a trailblazer in the development of underwater photographic equipment and technique, and has witnessed great industry advances. And though he has harnessed and implemented much of that new technology, at a time when a plethora of color underwater photographs illustrate magazines and glossy brochures, he, perhaps surprisingly, favors black and white. "I don't think that blue, an inherent color of the ocean, really adds to many photographs, especially of mammals - and I like the quality of black and white. Also, I get the personal satisfaction of working with black and white in being able to control the development and printing." The ocean and underwater photography are among his main interests. In the pursuit of dramatic marine images, he has descended into the fascinating waters beneath the polar icecaps as well as into the depths of almost every ocean on Earth.

His photographic legacy is the evidence that has illustrated changes in our environment, while he himself remains a tremendous voice in our need to witness the effect of that change.


hotography is many things to many people, and for me it has been a vehicle to new lands, a medium for self-expression and a gateway to adventure. It has always been in my life. The ocean and underwater photography are among my main interests and, in the pursuit of dramatic marine images, I have dived beneath the polar icecaps and in almost every ocean on Earth. There is no denying that photography can be exciting, challenging and rewarding in a variety of ways.


Over the years, I have witnessed tremendous change in the field of photography. From the days of the black and white darkroom, where images developed in chemicals to finally appear into a timeless statement, to current day where technological advances have provided tools that take the eye beyond the darkroom and into a greater realm of pure photographic intention and expression. I have grown to love the craft, its art, and the very private and personal time that it takes to pursue perfection.


Words fail to adequately express the stillness of motion that photography can. Early on, I deliberately chose the black and white process because of its archival qualities and the ability to display unique qualities of light as simple values—a process that has fascinated the human eye since the days of Daguerro’s plates centuries ago.


Long before our own existence, man sculpted the history of greatness in stone, painted his visions on canvas and scribed his teachings in text. As photographers, we’ve captured only a brief period of time.

Photography affords us the tools to sculpt with light, to paint with textures and shapes and to write volumes into a single image—creating indelible, lasting impressions of where we have been, who we really are and where our future may take us. Recording the history of man and nature has forever changed.

It is in this light that my dream of publishing Silver Seas has come alive. This project has been a lifelong process and it has allowed me to share with the world my fascination for photography and the sea—a duality that has existed throughout my life. The greatest reward for this effort is knowing that.