Unlike many who embark on a career path as a filmmaker,, ASC didn’t major in film or cinematography in college. Instead, he studied marine biology and attended Florida State University and the University of Hawaii. Through his research, Atkins developed a passion for the ocean, which led him to pursue underwater photography.
Early in his career, Atkins served as a cinematographer on television documentary series and features, including the BBC’s Trials of Life. Following this, Atkins collaborated with his wife and producing partner, and he served as director and cinematographer on a number of National Geographic television documentary features, including Hawaii: Strangers in Paradise — which won the 1991 News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Informational or Cultural Programming — as well as Great White Shark (co-produced by the BBC) and Dolphins: The Wild Side.
Atkins served as one of the directors of photography on Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures Voyage to Kure, a television documentary series that inspired President George W. Bush to declare the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a National Monument. He also worked as a camera operator for the BBC’s Planet Earth and provided additionally photography on the Disneynature feature Earth.
Atkins has provided second-unit and additional photography work on a number of narrative features, including Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (with Russell Boyd, ASC, ACS), The Tree of Life and The Revenant (both with Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC). His work in directing and cinematography have earned him Emmy Awards, British Academy Awards and a prestigious Telluride Film Festival Tribute, among others.
He has also shot commercials for such clients as Lexus, Toyota, AT&T Wireless, Volkswagen, Bank of Hawaii and many more.
Atkins recently participated as a TEDxMaui speaker and spoke on “