Harriet Spark

Producer and Photographer @ Grumpy Turtle Films based in Sydney, Australia
I am a filmmaker and photographer committed to authentic storytelling. Inspired by the likes of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, I had always dreamed of becoming a fashion photojournalist - until I went diving on the Great... read on

I am a filmmaker and photographer committed to authentic storytelling. Inspired by the likes of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, I had always dreamed of becoming a fashion photojournalist - until I went diving on the Great Barrier Reef for the first time. I was instantly hooked and became a scuba diving instructor, which opened up the world of underwater photography for me. Through my films and photographs, I hope to share the beauty, vibrancy and personality of the incredible life that can be found both above and below the ocean’s surface.  

I strive to create impact and pitch, produce, shoot and edit compelling short films to help businesses and organisations bring their vision for a better world to life. I have worked on exciting projects with science and advocacy organisations, including WWF, The Australian Conservation Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Getty Images, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, and UNSW Marine Science. My photography work has been published in the Guardian, Australian Geographic, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Oceanographic Magazine and the Sydney Morning Herald. I now predominately work on natural history, science and factual broadcast programmes. I thrive on executing complicated underwater and international shoots and have a keen knack for storytelling. I have most recently worked as an Associate Producer/Safety Diver/Behind-the-Scenes Stills Photographer on an exciting National Geographic/Disney+ series called ‘Secrets of the Octopus’.

When I was 19, I started working as a hostess on an overnight dive boat - with precisely zero scuba diving or cooking experience - and this was when I went for a scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef for the first time. I remember feeling completely in awe of the sparkling fish that darted in and out of the complex coral structures. I loved that the world above instantly melted away as we sank below the ocean’s surface, and all that mattered for this brief moment in time was the intricate ecosystem in front of me. 

Learning to dive and becoming an instructor on the Great Barrier Reef changed my life at a time when I needed change more than anything. It gave me self-confidence, passion and purpose. We protect what we love, and I now want to protect the Reef and our planet, not only because I think it’s a beautiful and vital ecosystem but because it has given me so much. 

I worked on that dive boat for three years before moving to Tonga with my now-husband to live on an uninhabited island called Nomuka Iki as part of an expedition to find undiscovered shipwrecks.

My career has been intrinsically connected to the Great Barrier Reef since I became a dive instructor on the Reef ten years ago. Ironically, however, it was not until I left the Great Barrier Reef that I started to learn more about the considerable pressure the ocean was under. After returning from Tonga, I worked as a Shark Dive Instructor at Manly SEALIFE Sanctuary. One of the scientists who also worked there taught me about the impact of plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing on our oceans.

I wanted to do something about all these problems swirling around my head. I teamed with other local change-makers to run community beach cleans and movie screenings. I created marketing materials and quickly realised how vital effective and creative communications are to inspiring change, so I returned to study graphic design at Sydney’s Martin College. 

After completing my design diploma, I worked in communications for some of Australia’s leading environmental organisations, including 1 Million Women, Voiceless, the Animal Protection Institute and Taronga Conservation Society Australia. While working at Taronga Zoo, I developed a ‘Litter Free Oceans’ campaign to encourage visitors to take action once their visit to the zoo ended. In addition, I was the lead graphic designer for the 2017 VIVID Sydney at Taronga Zoo activation. After studying graphic design and working for numerous not-for-profits, I became more drawn to the power of moving images and documentary storytelling. I returned to study at the Australian Television, Film and Radio School and, shortly after this, founded Grumpy Turtle Films.

A professional diver for over a decade, I am experienced with open-circuit (scuba) and closed-circuit (CCR) dive equipment. I have dived in temperate and tropical environments and am experienced and familiar with using speciality equipment like dry suits. I have led multiple international shoots for clients such as National Geographic, ensuring all footage is captured in a safe, enjoyable working environment. I started diving as an instructor on the Great Barrier Reef. Working in the tourism industry from a young age helped me learn to read a room and quickly build rapport with crew and talent. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and know that switching between diving, cooking a hungry crew of 12 lunch and dinner, helping solve the inevitable problems that can arise on location, interviewing talent and shooting footage can be all in a day’s work.

I love developing engaging campaigns to share inspiring ocean-related stories that empower people to take action. In 2018, I created a community initiative, Operation Straw, after seeing the impact of plastic straws on my local beach. The organisation encourages people to go for a ‘Strawkle’ – a snorkel to collect straws. 

I executed this campaign from the original concept to the actual events, which included designing all promotional material, forming partnerships with local businesses, and running community events to teach volunteers how to engage with their favourite cafes. The concept went viral and was featured on numerous international and national news outlets. In 2019, I won a Northern Beaches Council Australia Day Award for Outstanding Community Service for my work with Operation Straw. The organisation is now led by a team of volunteers who continue to run events in NSW.  

I'm inspired by stories like 'My Octopus Teacher', which show people's connection to nature by amplifying human personal experiences. I believe in the power of storytelling to shape our world for the better, and I love to work with people who feel the same.

International League of Conservation Photographers

A global community of conservation photographers and filmmakers working to share conservation stories and solutions through ethical visual storytelling
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