While diving in the Kingdom of Tonga five years ago, California-based photographer Bryant Austin was swimming 6 feet from a humpback whale calf when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. When he turned around, he found himself eye to eye with the calf’s mother, who had extended her 15-foot, one-ton pectoral fin to gently let him know that she was watching him. That moment, that emotional connection from mammal-to-mammal, species to species, is what Austin realized was missing from the field of whale photography. He decided to change that.
Bryant Austin now creates high-resolution, life-size photographs of whales. This must be accomplished by photographing inquisitive whales at a distance of no more than 6 feet, taking hundreds of photographs that are later pieced together to form the final image. The work is dangerous. The results are amazing. The impact is profound. Bryant hopes that his intimate portraits of endangered whales will change perceptions about the animals that will hopefully lead to the reduction or elimination of whaling.
See more images from Bryant Austin and catch an inside glimpse at the process here: