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Photographer of the Week - 4 June 2021 - Al Coldrick

04 June 2021

Posted by Philip Mowbray

Al Coldrick is a British photographer who lives and works in Tonga running a whale swimming business. He uses his camera skills to photograph the whales when they come to breed and give birth each year, resulting in stunning and intimate underwater portraits.

Favourite photographer: I have two main inspirations that made me want to pick up a camera, especially underwater. Firstly Bob Talbot, as a teenager I saved my money to buy his framed prints of dolphins. At that age, I’d never seen a dolphin or whale, but I was fascinated. I still have those pictures here with me in Tonga 35 years later! Secondly, I work with a professional nature photographer from Australia, Darren Jew. He has been a client of mine, bringing groups to swim with the whales with us for over 12 years. Watching him at work and seeing the results that were achievable, I decided to try for myself. I owe a big debt to him for his encouragement, always answering my technical questions and his general words of photography wisdom.

Top tip for other photographers: 
In all honesty, I feel like a photography fake, I know nothing about cameras, I barely know how to use mine and I have rudimentary processing skills. So my tip would directly relate to that, take pictures because you enjoy it, regardless of how much you feel you do or don’t know. I take pictures for myself and if anyone else happens to like them too, that’s a bonus.

Favourite photo:
My favourite photo is the one I’ve called 'The Rise’. I played with processing it in various formats but could never get the colours quite right or cut out the murky water... so naturally, it became black and white. I like the simplicity of the image and I remember taking the shot. This is a calf leaving it’s mom to come up and breath and was so relaxed and calm, a perfect subject to shoot.

'The Rise' by Al Coldrick



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Swaying from side to side, she appeared to be dancing with me.....

Swaying from side to side, she appeared to be dancing with me..... Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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A playful Humpback whale having fun.

A playful Humpback whale having fun. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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Marked from encounters with other whales, he rested 5m below the surface, pectoral fins tucked in to give this unusual view.

Marked from encounters with other whales, he rested 5m below the surface, pectoral fins tucked in to give this unusual view. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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An eye to eye meeting as the whale encourages us to stay with him.

An eye to eye meeting as the whale encourages us to stay with him. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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This little calf shot at me like a rocket , knocking me to the side. I was his toy to be played with.

This little calf shot at me like a rocket , knocking me to the side. I was his toy to be played with. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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A young Humpback whale caught mid breach in Tonga.

A young Humpback whale caught mid breach in Tonga. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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I called it 'The Finger' but really she was reaching out to touch the camera. Showing her belly she was totally relaxed playing with me for an hour.

I called it 'The Finger' but really she was reaching out to touch the camera. Showing her belly she was totally relaxed playing with me for an hour. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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A beautiful relaxed pair come up to breathe, Vava'u , Tonga

A beautiful relaxed pair come up to breathe, Vava'u , Tonga Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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Spacially aware, the whales love breezing past.....

Spacially aware, the whales love breezing past..... Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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A beautiful interaction with a relaxed mom and her playful calf in the waters of Vava'u, Tonga. Resting a few meters below the surface, mom slept as the calf entertained us with... Read more

A beautiful interaction with a relaxed mom and her playful calf in the waters of Vava'u, Tonga. Resting a few meters below the surface, mom slept as the calf entertained us with it's twists and turns and close passes. Read less

by Al Coldrick View Store

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© Al Coldrick



Al's Picfair Store


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