The dive industry across the world is in mourning following the news that legendary underwater photographer Ernie Brooks II has died at the age of 85.
Ernie Brooks was born on 8 January 1935 in Santa Maria, California. He grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. His father loved boating, diving and photography, and it was natural that he would inherit a love for the sea and for taking photographs.
Photography was to play a huge role in his life – he was given a camera and a roll of film to photograph his first day in kindergarten. At the age of four, he went with his father to photograph California’s Pismo Beach with his large 8×10 view camera, and was right there during the many hours of photo processing in the darkroom. At the age of 19, he built his own underwater housing for a black-and-white Leica camera, and over the years, despite technology moving on, he never progressed to color photography and remained the ‘monochrome master’.
He graduated from the famed Brooks Institute of Photography – a school founded by his father – and then went on to serve as its president for nearly three decades. Throughout this tenure, he supported the cause of photographic education by partnering with various organizations and international conventions, and even established the school’s underwater photography courses.
Brooks studied with Hans Haas, a pioneer of underwater documentaries, and spent 17 years working with Jacques Cousteau, training the French icon’s photographers during various adventures around the globe.
Hi stunning black-and-white images have been published in many periodicals, including Ocean Real Magazine, Outside, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Communication Arts, Westways, Scuba Times, Skin Diver, Foto-World, Sous-Marine, Professional Photographer of America, Photography Annual, and many others.