Ellen Cuylaerts

Contributing Photographer

Ellen was interested in animals and taking pictures from a young age, but other subjects (boys, parties, university, history, travelling) soon took over and the first Nikon paid for with babysitting money gathered dust.  She got her Master in History and Education with the principal aim of  prooving to her parents that she could finish what she started!  While studying, Ellen got into IT and worked for her brother's computer company. This meant long hours day and night.

A blast from the past swept her of her feet at the age of 27 and soon Ellen married Michael and had 2 children. A new work project soon took up much of Ellen’s attention: together with her brother and some investors, she founded one of the first e-commerce industries in Belgium - Zappybaby. Zappybaby launched in Holland and Germany soon after.

But life can take strange and interesting turns. Her children were too smart for school and restless attending boring classes.  In 2009 Ellen quit her successful job, bought a family-ticket to Grand Cayman and never looked back. Homeschooling the children, Ellen finally discovered a certain peace. Things were good, but busy bees can't hover for long at the same pace, nor place.

Having previously completed her Open Water diving course in 2009, Ellen began diving again with Michael in 2011. While satisfying her curiosity for the underwater world, Ellen soon became a Master Scuba Diver. Underwater photography was of particular interest to Ellen and investing in an Olympus EPL-2 camera seemed the right thing to do. From her first photography dive onwards, there was no stopping her – there was no way back.

Ellen attended a workshop run by Dr. Alex Mustard and she was soon winning local underwater photography competitions. After 1 year Ellen upgraded to a DSLR camera. To her delight, she was awarded the underwaterphotogrpahy.com grand prize in 2013.

Her signature pictures are recognisable by the unique contact she achieves with her subjects. Ellen aims to document more than just the different creatures living in the ocean – she wants to document the feelings she experiences with every encounter: mutual respect, oceans that can be shared, a place where man or woman is allowed to witness the best of nature, and where salt heals the soul!