Jonathan Bird

Underwater Cinematographer
Jonathan Bird Productions
What is your current job and what does it entail? 

I have the world's greatest, but most difficult to explain job. I travel the world filming episodes for my underwater science/adventure series Jonathan Bird's Blue World  which airs on public television. I am both the director of photography and host, as well as one of the writers and editors. But in spite of my exciting-sounding job description, I actually spend more time in a dark room writing and editing than I do out in the field having adventures.

What was the key factor in your career decision? 

I spent a few years working as an engineer in a cubicle at a defense contractor and decided that was not the life for me. My hobbies in photography and scuba diving beckoned.

What do like most about your career? 

Being able to see my kids a lot because I work from home when I'm not on the road. I also love the freedom of being my own boss and sending myself on adventures to make fun television segments.

What do you like least about your career? 

Being away from home on longer assignments. I get homesick. Not having a regular paycheck.

What do you do to relax? 

I'm an amateur winemaker and I have a vineyard in my yard. It's a lot of work but I love to go outside and tend the vines. Even in the winter, there is pruning to be done and stuff to keep me busy. I also play guitar and drums with a couple of informal jam bands, which is super fun.

Who are your heroes/heroines? 

As an underwater cinematographer my hero is Howard Hall, the single greatest underwater cinematographer of all time. As an underwater photographer, David Doubilet has had the greatest influence on me. The real heroine of my life is my wife Christine for reasons too numerous to name.

What advice would you give a student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field? 

Go to business school! No, seriously! One of the reasons it took me so long to become successful is because it's so hard to make money in this field. A business degree would have been more useful than an engineering degree!

Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why? 

Decreasing. More and more people are trying to make a living in a field with a very limited number of potential jobs. One of the reasons I created my own TV program was to create a job for myself! Making a living doing what I do is enormously difficult.

What will you be doing 10 years from today? 

With any luck, the same thing!

Jonathan Bird

I have the world's greatest, but most difficult to explain job. I travel the world filming episodes for my underwater science/adventure series Jonathan Bird's Blue World which airs on public television.

Education

B.S., Electrical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
M.S., Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire