Michael Maes

Michael Maes is a Grand Cayman-based Extreme Wildlife Cinematographer, specialized in big animals and animal behavior

Michael's portfolio (both underwater and topside) covers the polar regions, temperate waters and the tropics. He has a passionate interest for polar bears and Arctic whales.

Originally from Belgium, Michael relocated to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands in 2008. Although the underwater world attracted him since he started diving in 1992, a dive accident several years later kept him land-locked for a long time. When he was challenged back into the water in 2011, his rediscovered dedication for diving became life changing.

Michael recognized the impact of storytelling through pictures and film and used this platform to create awareness of the remarkable wildlife realm to the broad public. At the heart of his films is showing people the beauty and fragility of this blue planet, from the depths of the warm waters to the white vastness of the polar regions. Michael produces films with integrity, serving to both educate and inform the general public about environmental issues dear to him.

His work has been broadcast on various national television like BBC, Nat Geo Wild, Outside Television, CBC. It also received recognition at a myriad of international film festivals; reflecting the ability to translate the need for wildlife conservation onto the screen.

Stemming from a long and successful past in IT, Michael seeks to remain at the forefront of cutting edge technology. His choice for RED Digital Cinema cameras and the superior optics of Zeiss cinema lenses originates from his commitment to capture the perfection of nature under optimum conditions. Although he advocates it is not "the camera taking the picture” but "the person behind the camera", he also believes technology by itself is an additional tool for filmmakers.

In 2015 Michael was inducted as cinematographer in the Ocean Artists Society, an organization uniting artists worldwide to raise awareness and protect the marine environment through art. Michael is also a founding Navigator of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute; a leading scientific research centre in the Caribbean focusing on coral reef restoration, research on coral resilience, and ocean education. The illustrious Explorers Club welcomed him as a Fellow member in 2017 (FI17).

Michael recently finished a feature documentary – Epiphany – a story about shark conservation, conquering fear, personal growth, and reinventing life.