Rapanui x OPY: Renee Capozzola

The Ocean Photographer of the Year (OPY) is a celebration of our beautiful blue planet, as well as a platform to highlight the many plights it is facing. We’ve collaborated with OPY to connect two distinct artforms, photography and illustration, all while raising money for the ocean. Our in-house illustrators have picked a selection of some of this year’s world-class photography to graphically interpret. Their mission: to turn each photograph into a wearable piece of art, without losing the essence of the original image.

Green Sea Turtle

The fourth in this series features a photograph by Renee Capozzola, an American ocean photographer who grew up in Southern California. Her image of a wandering Green Sea Turtle won second place in the Ocean Portfolio category.

We spoke to both the photographer and the illustrator to find out about the story behind the image and the process of turning it into a design to be worn.

Meet the photographer & their chosen charity

Growing up in Southern California, the ocean has always been a large part of Renee’s life. She has since travelled across the globe, diving in some of the most remote parts of the world. Renee is a conservation-oriented underwater photographer who has received over fifty prestigious international awards for her work.

A photo she captured in Hawaii of a wandering green Sea Turtle gives a glimpse into the beauty of our blue planet.

Credit: Renee Capozzola

Location: Maui, Hawaii

We spoke to Renee about her photography journey, and what this photograph means to her. She described the moments leading up to taking this shot.

“I took this photograph early in the morning off Lahaina, Hawaii at a local dive site. While observing the green sea turtles around a cleaning station, the sun came out and I noticed the beautiful rays piercing through the surface so I ascended into very shallow water where some of the turtles will often pass by or hang out. Soon thereafter, this young turtle with a prominent white belly approached and then remained stationary, seeming to enjoy getting cleaned by the black tangs. I slowly approached, careful not to exhale any bubbles, and captured this image.”

The photo captures a moment where the turtle is almost posing, full of personality. Renee told us why she loves the photo.

“ I love that the turtle has its head up high and seems to be looking at the camera while it is framed by the rays above and the darker water below. It’s also a bonus that the black tangs are there, cleaning the algae off the turtle’s carapace or shell.”

We asked her what keeps bringing her back to the ocean.

“The ocean is not only a beautiful and adventurous place but also where I feel at peace and in harmony with my surroundings. I am passionate about taking pictures that I hope will help to preserve the health of our marine ecosystems and encourage others to protect our oceans.”

People’s Fund of Maui

Renee has chosen proceeds from the t-shirt created inspired by her photo to go to People’s Fund Maui. She told us why this organisation is important to her.

“The recent fires in Lahaina have completely devastated the town, the local community and the diving industry on West Maui. Many people have lost their homes, jobs, and businesses. The People’s Fund of Maui provides direct financial assistance to Maui community members experiencing loss from the fires.”

From photo to illustration

We spoke with the design team who turned Renee’s photo into an illustration made to be worn.

“We really wanted to convey the personality of the turtle and show off the colours. One of the first things that struck us in this photograph was the rays coming from above, and we really wanted to keep that element. We hope we’ve created a design that’s fun and gives the stage to just one of the creatures that are crucial to a thriving marine ecosystem. As with all the other designs in the series, we added a QR code to the photographer’s Instagram, so the photo can be traced back to the original creator.”

Get the t-shirt for men and women.

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