Offbeat Video

By Jack Williams


This underwater MICROangelo sets up and shoots amusing scenes that feature tiny people and big marine life.

Jason Isley’s works see his miniature figures stand face-to-face with sharks while holding a bullfighting rag; perform surgery on injured fish, and fly hot air balloons among pools of jellyfish.

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

To date, committed Jason has photographed more than 80 such scenes, which can take anywhere from ten minutes to three days to prepare.

The photographer – who is originally from Essex, UK, but has lived on the island of Borneo for more than 20 years – said that he prepares the figures in his office, and while some scenes, like sunbathing on the bottom of the ocean, are simple to shoot, others can be season- or time-dependent.

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

Jason, 47, said: “Once the concept for the image has been thought out, I then sketch out the planned image, the necessary models are purchased, and I decide on the location to shoot the image.

“On location, I normally know which dive sites will deliver the necessary subject and have a guide locate the subject; I usually plan for one or two images per dive depending on the nature of the image.

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

“Once underwater, I go about setting the scene around the subject – the creatures chosen are usually ambush predators, creatures that live in holes or camouflage experts so they are not likely to swim away.

“The larger subjects take a bit more time to shoot. Once the scene is set, I start shooting, and sometimes this may mean I have to wait for the subject to emerge from its hole – that can take half an hour or even longer.”

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

Jason came up with the idea for his unique series in 2011, as having worked as an underwater photographer for more than 20 years, he was looking for a new way to be creative with subjects he had shot hundreds of times before.

Inspired by other artists who have brought miniature figures into big scenes – albeit on land – Jason decided to try the medium within the depths of the ocean.

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

Recently, Jason has started to shoot such scenes more frequently, as after some of his images were converted into a book, “Small Blue World”, the diver-cum-photographer took a short hiatus from the series.

Jason said: “I want to continue the story where the previous book finished and have the miniatures realise that life underwater is not as safe as they expected, new dangers appear, tackling some additional underwater threats like acidification and rising sea temperatures.

Pic by Jason Isley / Caters

“They have to search for new locations underwater, and therefore start exploring other underwater environments like seagrass beds, open sand areas, kelp forest and eventually the abyss – the astronauts head out into the darkness just like space exploration.