- The Underwater Image Capture Specialists

Welcome to the home page of Charles Maxwell and Underwater Video Services, Cape Town, South Africa

The long awaited South African episode of French Television’s “Ushuaia Nature” was broadcast in April 2007. Shot during the winter of 2006 it covered the Natal Sardine Run and white sharks. The climax to the story was when Nicolas Hulot, legendary French adventurer / presenter and Laurent Ballesta, a marine biologist,  swam unprotected with white sharks near Dyer Island. We had spent many hours underwater but the white sharks, while ever present, had never come sufficiently close for that critical shot. As we were about to leave the water, a large white shark  suddenly turned sharply and sped towards us. Fortunately my HD camera was on standby with iris and focus set, so my first reaction was to hit record. 

As I swung the large camera housing to frame the shot I realised that the other two were unaware of their predicament. It was one of those moments where one experiences a “time warp”. In that split second that seemed like minutes, while I was deciding whether I should hold the shot or warn the other divers, Laurent spotted the shark and grabbed Nicolas’ arm. Less than a metre from them, the shark, possibly  sensing that the divers were now aware of his presence, veered off and swam into  the setting sun (literally). We had the shot.

Charles was a 2002 Primetime Emmy Award winner in the category Outstanding Cinematography for work done for The Blue Planet: Seas of Life, produced by the BBC / Discovery Channel.

In 2006 Charles filmed rays feeding on squid for the BBC's Planet Earth: Shallow Seas.

Charles Maxwell is proud to have worked with the below companies:

Charles Maxwell is an underwater cinematographer and explorer living in Cape Town, South Africa.

I have been diving for over 40 years and therefore have an excellent knowledge of the South African marine environment as well as having contacts in the documentary and scientific communities. I began my career in underwater filming in 1987 while assisting Swiss filmmaker, Gerald Favre, with his production “Le Souffle du Dragon”, a story about the discovery and exploration of the world’s largest underground lake in Namibia. Since then I have worked with many production companies worldwide.

Working with the sea can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous but mostly rewarding. It is not all about tropical islands and warm water and can involve spending many cold hours underwater, sometimes on one’s own. While I specialised in documentary films about sharks, whales, dolphins and the Cape fur seals that are abundant in the cold water near Cape Town where I live, I also spend time along the coast between Cape Town and Mozambique and around the Indian Ocean Islands.

Besides my wildlife filming work, I have been involved in such diverse activities as commercial contract diving and marine survey work for the likes of Eskom, Telkom and SAPPI, caving, cave diving, nuclear reactor diving and mountaineering.

I have often been very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. I have been amongst the privileged few to be in places no human has placed a foot on before and have been the first person to dive in the fuel pool at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in South Africa. All of these experiences would not have been possible without the help of incredible support teams to whom I owe my sincere gratitude.

These activities are all included in my website so please take the time to dig around for anything that you may find of interest.


  • The Blue Planet: Seas of Life – BBC / Discovery Channel – Emmy Award winner
  • Planet Earth: Shallow Seas – BBC / Discovery Channel
  • Supernatural: Time Warp – BBC Wildlife on One
  • White Shark, Deep Trouble – National Geographic Television
  • Sensitive Sharks – BBC Wildlife on One
  • Air Jaws – Discovery Channel
  • Smart Sharks: Roboshark – BBC / Discovery Channel
  • African Penguin: Cool Bird in a Hot Spot – BBC Wildlife on One
  • Das Grosse Fressen (Natal Sardine Run) – German Television
  • Sardine Festival – Discovery Channel – Award at the 29th Festival Mondial de Image Sous Marine, Antibes, France, 2002
  • Be the Creature – National Geographic Television
  • L’Oceanografic Aquarium – French Television
  • Shark Coast aka Oceans Apart – BBC Natural World
  • Massive Nature: The Deep – BBC Natural World – Winner of the Jules Verne Award de la meilleure realisation, 2005
  • John Lydon (Johnny Rotten): Shark Attack – Channel Five, UK.
  • Planet Carnivore: Oceans – National Geographic Television
  • The Deep Blue – Big screen version of The Blue Planet

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    South Africa is one of the sharkiest coasts on earth

    - Sir David Attenborough in his narration for the BBC's "Shark Coast"

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      M: +27 082-568-8347



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