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.