Skip to content

Emory Kristof

Executive Producer

Emory is an explorer and an inspiring hero of the seas; Emory’s extraordinary pursuits include the successful hunt of the Titanic, locating deep sea volcanoes and gigantic squids; and laying to rest the truth of the cryptic Loch Ness Monster of Scotland. After more than 40 years of traveling the world, covering mostly scientific, high-tech and deep underwater exploratory expeditions for the National Geographic, Emory’s accomplishments scale higher than Mt Everest and deeper than the Mariana Trench. Like with all great explorers, Shackleton, Hilary, Cousteau an inexplicable niggling begins in the gut that eventually blooms into an idea to go beyond and see what no one has ever seen, done or heard before. His ventures are mostly extreme, peculiar and more immense than space exploration. In his early years at the Geographic, observing the reduced quality of deep water imagery, Emory rose to the challenge experimenting with wide angle lenses, and a variation of lighting techniques. Along the way, Kristof has pioneered the use of robotic cameras and remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs).

Emory’s most illustrious accomplishment must be the 1985 teaming up with Robert Ballard at Woods Hole Institute to find and film the Titanic. This quest actually began in the 1970s, when he invented the designs of the electronic camera system for the ARGO submersible which eventually found the Titanic. In 1991, Emory further produced a Soviet-Canadian collaboration to shoot three-dimensional IMAX (Image Maximum) production of the Titanic The expedition used two Russian submersibles equipped with 10,000 watts of high-intensity HMI lights mounted on arms to light up the mammoth wreck. To date it remains the most powerful set of lights ever set up to work in the deep ocean. The shoot produced the most published images of the Titanic. In fact it was Emory who inspired Oscar-nominated director James Cameron to film the now famed epic. Emory revealed to Cameron the techniques of illuminating and shooting the humongous wreck resting in the dark abyss. Emory also introduced Cameron to the agile MIR submersibles which were featured in the opening scenes of the Hollywood version of the ‘Titanic’. According to Joseph MacInnis, executive producer of the IMAX version of the Titanic, Kristof mounted the twin cameras outside the pressure hull of the submersible and spent 50 hours filming the wreck from every conceivable angle. Emory was the person behind the imagery. “We all know the story and most of us have seen the movie but with 3-D film it is now possible to make a virtual visit to the wreck. It’s so real you want to touch it.” Emory quips, “Deep water represents about 70 percent of the planet, so it gave me a lot of room to roam. I like the challenge of it.” With his passion for, exploring the cold, dark, and mysterious depths of our oceans, notwithstanding the honour of working on high-profile projects, Kristof declares that his enthusiasm is still in animal imagery. A prime example is discovering new life forms swirling around hydrothermal vents in the volcanic hot springs of the Galapagos Rift. With his life long friends Ralph White and Mike Cole at National Geographic they created the design for a timer-controlled camera (Ropecam) baited to attract marine life up to 5kms deep. Until 1977, we didn’t know anything about the science of the deep sea. Emory’s Galapagos shoot revealed for the first time, a whole new ecosystem that exists in the deep ocean. It was to be the greatest biological discovery of the century documented in an Emmy award winning feature titled, -Dive to the Edge of Creation. Emory is at the forefront with his vision of exploring and sampling the deep sea of the heart of the coral triangle. In September 2007 after four years of planning, negotiations and false starts, surviving both political and security red tape he lead a 30-man team of scientists, ROV pilots, film crew, Navy Seals into the Southern Philippines, dodging pirates and terrorists to explore the deep water of the Celebes Sea.

Emory is first a photographer; his work has uncovered the un-explored worlds of the deep sea. Kristof and Bill Curtsinger’s article “Testing the Waters of Rongelap,” published in National Geographic magazine in April 1998, records oceanic life in the nuclear weapons-contaminated waters surrounding the Marshall Islands. In August 1998 Kristof’s pictures of the Titanic were presented in the National Geographic magazine article, “Tragedy in Three Dimensions.” The pictures, taken in 1991 using high-intensity lighting systems, achieved unprecedented detail due to advances in 3-D computer video-editing. He has produced over 40 articles for National Geographic magazine. Kristof’s accomplishments have earned many awards for both writing and photography, including the NOGI Award for Arts from the Underwater Society of America in 1988 and an Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award for Underwater Exploration in 1986. That same year Kristof and Robert Ballard received the American Society of Magazine Publishers Innovation in Photography Award for their photographic coverage of the Titanic. Kristof was presented with the 1998 J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award by the U.S. National Press Photographers Association “for being one of our profession’s most imaginative innovators with particular attention to pictures from beneath the ocean brought to the readers of National Geographic magazine.”