OWO Ocean Artisan Series — Donald Miralle

OWO Ocean Artisan Series — Donald Miralle


This month we bring you our next OWO Ocean Artisan, and SoCal native, Donald Miralle. For the last twenty years, Donald has worked as a professional photographer for clients such as Outside, National Geographic, Men’s Journal, and Sports Illustrated. Donald has photographed everything from the depths of our seas to our world’s best athletes.

In fact, Donald is a bit of an athlete himself… while he spends his free time surfing, he also competes as an elite paddleboarder. He has competed and placed in races such as the 32-Mile Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, The Molokai World Championships, The Jay Moriarty Race, and the Waterman Challenge.

In fact, during his younger years, whilst working on a B.A. in Fine Arts at UCLA, Donald also competed on the Bruins Men’s NCAA Championship Swim Team.

Donald’s vibrant imagery has been recognized with more than 50 international awards, including the World Press Photo Awards. He has also been named Sports Photojournalist of the Year by both the National Press Photographers Association and Pictures of the Year International.

Donald currently resides in the San Diego beach community of Leucadia with his wife Lauren, his two sons Luke and Micah, their two dogs, Kaya and Tyson, and an overweight cat called Rigby.

KAILUA-KONA, HI – OCTOBER 8: during the the 2016 IRONMAN Triathlon World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 8, 2016. (Donald Miralle for Ironman)

We Had A Chance To Sit Down With Donald Miralle And Learn A Bit About What Makes Him Tick…

OWO: What came first, your love of photography or the ocean?

Donald Miralle: Love of Ocean came at a young age when I first went to the beach as a kid growing up in L.A. — first swimming and bodyboarding at around 7-8 years old and later surfing and paddling in my teens. I first picked up a camera and started creating images later in college while I was in Art School at UCLA.

OWO: When was the first time you really felt one with the ocean?

Donald Miralle: Probably body surfing as a young kid, you feel very connected riding waves, harnessing the ocean’s energy and riding the waves on your chest.

OWO: What is it about the ocean that inspires you?

Donald Miralle: The ocean is where life started on this planet and is what literally connects everyone on the Earth together. I go in the ocean everyday still to surf, paddle, swim or play with my sons; it’s a place that brings me energy, recharges my battery, and connects me with our planet. Every time I go out in the water it rinses away my stress and worries while I share the ocean with dolphins, fish, rays, or other humans. No better way to start or end the day than playing in the ocean’s tide, and any day in the water is a good one! 

ENCINITAS, CA – JUNE 4: Surfers hold a peaceful meeting and paddle out for Unity and Solidarity and Black Lives Matter, and in memory of George Floyd and the black lives lost to police brutality at Moonlight Beach on June 4, 2020 in Encinitas, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle)

OWO: Who inspires your work?

Donald Miralle: I find inspiration in the natural world, from the ocean to the mountains and everything in between. I enjoy trying to depict the “bigger picture” and the interconnectedness of multiple systems and different species.  From nature photographers Paul Nicklen and David Doubilet, to sports photographers Walter Iooss and Neil Liefer, to painters Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper, to the music of Mozart and Marley, I draw a lot of inspiration from other artists, both historical and contemporary, visual and musical.

HAWAII: A general view of the Big Island of Hawaii. (Photo by Donald Miralle for Conde Nast Traveler)

OWO: Where is your favorite place to photograph?

Donald Miralle: I’ve been to every continent with the exception of Antarctica (on my bucket list) from 20,000 feet above seas level in the Himalayas to 20 feet underwater in Tahiti, but I’ve probably spent more time shooting in Hawaii and have come away with the most memorable images of my career there. The Hawaiian islands will always hold a special place in my heart.

OAHU, HAWAII – MAY 15: Conservationist, Photographer and Dive Safety Officer Ocean Ramsey poses for photos during a cover shoot for Pacific Magazine at Sharks’ Cove on May 15, 2013 in Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii. (Photo by Donald Miralle for Pacific Magazine) *** Local Caption ***

OWO: What do you hope people take away from your photography?

Donald Miralle: Photography is one of the greatest and most complex forms of communication we as humans have. No other medium can so quickly convey so much so immediately to so many people regardless of their languages or culture, I like to convey how I SEE the world through my photographs, which can hopefully change someone’s perception, and maybe for a moment make them look twice at something or even take off their horse blinders and look at something from a different perspective.

SANTA CLARA, CA – JUNE 25: World Record Holder Michael Phelps during a photo shoot at the Santa Clara XXXIX International Swim Meet, part of the 2006 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, on June 25, 2006 at the Santa Clara Swim Club in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

You Can See More Of Donald’s Work On His Website: www.donaldmiralle.com

Follow Him On Instagram @DonaldMiralle

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