Largely inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s underwater odyssey, at age 15 Didier Noirot knew he wanted to join in the future the divers of the prestigious research vessel ‘Calypso’
He started to dive in 1976 in west of France. At the second dive, he already had a still camera in his hands and took pictures of the sealife in Brittany. As a diving school, he chose the Center of Les Glenans in Southern Finistere where he performed his diving. A few years later, he taught still photography in the different scuba diving centers run by French organisation Club Med which was gave him the opportunity to dive in the Red Sea, the Indian Océan or the Pacific Océan.
With Jacques Cousteau
Photograph Cousteau Society
During 1986, the dream came true as a favorable answer from Captain Cousteau to a request of becoming a diver on the Calypso came at home. This was for a first expedition in New Zealand. “When are you ready to leave” asked Cousteau and his reply was quick : “Yesterday”. Two days later and 16 000 kms away, he finally stepped on board the vessel for a trip that took him around the world and lasted until Cousteau passed away in 1997. During these 12 years, he worked as still photographer the first two years and then became in charge of the underwater cinematography on more than 20 documentaries.
After Captain Cousteau passed the away in 1997, Didier Noirot met in South Africa a young and talented producer from the BBC, Mark Brownlow. Mark took him on location as underwater cameraman for “Sensitive Sharks”, “Roboshark” and “The Blue Planet Series”, all narrated by Sir David Attenborough. For his work as a cameraman on the Planet Earth series, Didier was awarded a coveted Emmy.
On location for BBC Nature’s Great Events Didier finds “ze sharks were too much aggressive”.
Nature’s Great Events – BBC One
How everything started
Gambiers Islands June 1988. The underwater film team lead by Michel Deloire just left for a reef dive. This morning, I deceided to go somewhere else, the pearl farm ! I am the still photographer on this expédition and this will be the only chance for me to capture images of the complete process.
Maupiti, The sailor, has prepared the zodiac and loaded the diving equipment . We are ready to go when I hear a voice coming from the mother ship .
Here is our exact conversation :
– Where are you going ? Captain Cousteau asked.
– Well, Captain, I am going to shot stills in the Oyster farm. I am the photographer and you pay me for this !
– You piss me off with your stills, take a movie camera !»
Then came a long and heavy moment of silence.
-« I don’t know how work your cameras, they don’t even have a viewfinder !
– Rrrrrrraaa … Like a machine gun » he replied, imitating the gest like a mad soldier !
– And what about the lens aperture?
– Set at 5.6 and the lab will do the rest !»
There was my first and unique lesson in underwater cinematography, coming from the Master. It was a short one but i’d like to reassure the readers, the pictures are beautiful and figure in the film Tahiti The water of Fire.
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