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INSPIRING INDIVIDUAL: Cristian Dimitrius

Cristian Dimitrius is a Brazilian cinematographer who has explored every inch of his home country, continent, and most other wild corners of the world in search of extraordinary wildlife and natural phenomena to capture on camera, and he’s won an Emmy Award while doing it.

He is a TV presenter and educator, sharing his knowledge and creating awareness about environmental issues that face our planet.

He is the first to jump right in and immerse himself in an experience, whether that be filming an anaconda underwater, coming face to face with crocodiles, orcas, jaguars or African elephants. If there’s an opportunity to get up close to a wild animal in its natural habitat and view its behaviour from a new and unseen perspective, Cristian is doing it.

Since his first days behind a camera - filming memento videos for his scuba diving guests in the 1990s - this passionate and adventurous photographer has made it his life’s work to share unique perspectives on some of the world’s misunderstood creatures. 

From the humid tropics of the Amazon jungle to the dry and dusty Mexican desert, and all the way north to the frozen peaks of Norway, Cristian has walked, dived, swum, flown, climbed, driven, scrambled, and trekked through a map of the world and he’s not slowing down… 

Tell us about yourself

I’m an Emmy Award Winning cinematographer, multi-tasking cameraman (top side and underwater), experient drone pilot and television presenter specializing in wildlife and natural history. In addition to several film credits including IMAX films, I’ve shot and produced for the world’s top television networks including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, History Channel, Arte, Animal Planet, Smithsonian, NHK and many others. I’ve got a large experience in the Brazilian Biomes, especially Amazon, Pantanal and the coastline.

Due to its versatility and adaptation to different natural environments, Cristian has the ideal profile to get a better and more complete result in a shorter time. His cinematography has been acclaimed all over the world.

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background

I was a divemaster working in the south of Brazil when I began to take a camera underwater to film clients during the summer of 1998. At that time, I had no editing tools and I was shooting with a Hi8 camera. I used to film 20-minute videos by planning each sequence ahead (topside boat ride, divers underwater, aquatic life and a short conclusion, usually bubbles) and this was the final cut. There was no room for mistakes and I believe this initial experience gave me a good solid base for the rest of my career.

Today, it is crucial to think ahead for everything I need to shoot to deliver a complete sequence for the “blue chip” natural history films I shoot most of the time.  

What or who in your life influenced you to pursue this route

I always knew that I had to work with nature… I began taking people to nature, as a hiking guide and diving instructor, and through this I discovered that filming these experiences allowed people to take nature to their homes and share with other people. After realizing this I discovered that I could reach more people by making images and sharing them with the world.

Also, as a diver, I was very inspired by the works of Howard and Michelle Hall and seeing those documentaries inspired me to pursue this career.

Currently, what is the inspiration that keeps you motivated and passionate about your work

At the moment I am looking for images that will motivate people to fight for conservation.

We are killing our forests, rivers, and oceans — this needs to stop. People have no idea how badly the environment is suffering, and we need to add sustainable habits into the popular culture.

As they say, an image is worth a thousand works, and I am looking for the right images to spread the message to save our beautiful and delicate planet. 

 

What is the most impactful aspect of your work

I always seek to bring an innovative approach, using the latest techniques, equipment and revolutionary creative resources to plunge the audience into the animal world. And I try to pass my passion along with my images. Combining these elements is a kind of signature for my work. 

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why

It’s hard to pick one as every place has its beauty, but I really have an attraction to Norway.

It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I love the fjords, the mountains, the big encounters with orcas, humpbacks and other animals, and the cold weather.

 

Tell us about your strangest experience while traveling

There have been so many, but one the strangest I can remember was a dinner in Mongolia, with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters, when we had to eat a goat head with our hands. This was a special dish, made just for us, and we could not refuse. The taste wasn't the best, but it was a memorable experience.

They are great people and despite the hard circumstances they live in, they looked very happy and were very kind to us. 

 

Why do you feel that wildlife conservation is important

 

We are all connected, and all living beings matter.

Wildlife conservation is the most important issue today, as without it we won’t be able to survive. It is a full time job for me as all my images tend to promote conservation. 

 

What is your favorite Wild in Africa bracelet style and why

I usually like more natural colors like brown and green, and because of that I like the Wild Tomorrow Fund one. But I also like the Tibetan Buddhist knotted bracelet and the South African Tiger’s eye.

Hard to pick one as they are all very pretty!

 

Could you share the story behind your favorite photograph you've taken

I did a very unique underwater sequence of a huge anaconda swimming in a river in Brazil for the BBC series Seven Worlds One Planet.

It took us days to find the animal and we didn’t know what to expect. This is definitely an animal we cannot control. But on this day, everything went perfectly. As soon as we spotted the giant snake, she went underwater to hide from us and I was ready to jump. I spent about 45 minutes with the animal getting all the angles I needed and when she swam away I made a very smooth track following the snake blending with the riverbed.

I was screaming underwater and I knew that the shot was epic.

The executive producers of this documentary wrote to me to say that everybody loved the footage, including Sir David Attenborough. 

 

Do you have a favorite place or subject to photograph

Hard to say. I used to say Galápagos, due the diversity of big animals you can see in one single dive. I still love oceanic islands like Galápagos, Cocos, and Socorro, and they are definitely some of my favorite environments to work in.

But recently I’ve been getting more and more into freshwater environments like flooded forests, rivers, lakes—specifically the ones in Brazil. I like the challenges of diving in these locations and the possibility of coming back with a beautiful image never before shot.

Forests like the Amazon and the Pantanal are not easy for the cameraman nor the equipment.

Every shot is a challenge and I love to challenge myself on every assignment.


Are there any animals you feel especially passionate about

Love orcas, giant river otters, jaguars, anacondas. Very hard to pick one because I like everything related to nature.

Can you share your future plans and hopes for yourself

We are just premiering a series about the coast of Brazil on National Geographic and hope we can do more series about our biomes so people can learn more about wildlife and all ecosystems we have on our planet.

My long-life mission is to inspire people to fall in love with our planet through my images, arousing the desire for knowledge and conservation of the place we all can call home.

And my future plan is to continue doing this and reaching more and more people until we reach a critical mass that is able to change how we relate to Mother Nature. I hope we can do that before it’s too late. 

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