CRAIG PARRY PHOTOGRAPHER | NOT SO ORDINARY CITIZENS
Posted on April 10, 2015
C R A I G P A R R Y
M I G A L O O
by Tracee Annetts – photography by Craig Parry
CRAIG is an international, multi award winning nature
photographer based in Byron Bay, Australia.
Recently Craig captured everyones attention with images of MIGALOO the rare albino humpback whale on his annual migration up the East Coast of Australia, past Byron Bay.
Craig shares details with us of the awe-inspiring moments with Migaloo.
HC : Craig congratulations on the beautiful image’s of Migaloo that have featured this week in Australian newspapers and TV.
Can you tell us about the process and logistics involved in finding Migaloo’s location. How were you able to capture the images?
CP : This time of the year, I make it a habit to start my day on the ocean photographing the whales as they migrate along the coast. When I saw the white belly of Migaloo reveal itself in the distance I had to look twice – I couldn’t believe it!
CP : We turned off the engines to keep our distance and drifted along, snapping pictures like crazy. Over about 30 minutes, he slowly made his way over to us to get a closer look before giving us a little high five in the way of a fin slap on the water and continuing on.
CP: It was at this point I used my camera and water housing from within the boat, to continue photographing the other surrounding marine life.
But then… Migaloo reappeared and gave my camera a cheeky grin, it was truly the image of a lifetime!
Please note : All imagery was captured in accordance with legislation. A safe distance was kept from Migaloo by disabling the boat’s engines and stopping the boat in excess of 500m from Migaloo. At this point, the vessel drifted until the occupants were certain the whale had cleared the area. The underwater image was captured using a camera in a water housing and a trigger pole from within the boat.
ABOVE 3 SHOTS TAKEN OFF THE COAST OF BYRON BAY. THE FOLLOWING IMAGES BELOW, SHOWING PEOPLE IN THE WATER WITH THE WHALES TAKEN ON LOCATION IN TONGA.
HC : A week after capturing Migaloo, Craig has just landed in Tonga on his own annual migration to observe, document and photograph the Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whales, during their Winter breeding and calfing season in the waters surrounding the Vava’u island group.
He also gave us some insights of his unforgettable moments with these gentle giants.
HC: This collection was shot on location at Vava’u in Tonga. How long did you spend on the Island? How was life for you there?
CP: I head to Tonga each year to run nature photography workshops and spend some time with the humpback whales. I couldn’t believe how laid back it was. The people of Tonga are so hospitable and will go out of their way to help.
This particular image was captured in 2014 while on one of these trips – it was my first season and a life changing experience. I knew that to get what I wanted from the journey I needed to work hard, so every day at 7am I hit the waters and didn’t return until 5pm. So you could imagine after 2 weeks I needed another holiday!
HC: ‘Emergence‘ pictured above, you named as your number 1 favourite. You said: “This image means so much to me in so many ways, it was an easy pick.” Can you tell us the story about this moment?
CP: After 3 hours of swimming with this female humpback I was swimming back to the boat when I got a feeling that something was happening behind me. As soon as I turned around I could tell she was about to ‘Spy Hop’ as she was moving slow vertically. It was in my imagination to capture this image and I was so pleased to have succeeded. I gave it this title because I feel that I emerged from this adventure a better photographer and with more respect for the environment.
HC: You have been honoured with many awards, including the Underwater category in the Outdoor Photography Magazine annual photography awards in the UK.
The photo above ‘Fin Swipe‘ was the shot that captured hearts and allowed your image victory from over 10,000 entries. Congratulations Craig! Tell us what was happening on your side of the lens, when this moment occurred.
CP: Well to tell you the truth its the same whale from the image “Emergence”! She started slicing her fins through the water on the first instance I was filming and I was a little upset that I wasn’t taking still images at the time and then I swapped the camera back over to still and you wouldn’t read about, but she did it again! I love the energy and movement in the image as well as having the split dimension as well.
HC: You mentioned on an Instagram post that these creatures are 40,000kg. How is it being face to face with these giants? What do you think they make of you?
CP: Its quite relaxing and humbling because you know they care about you and want to hang with you. They are constantly looking you in the eye and their movements are so graceful. Their awareness of you around them is incredible.. at one stage her fin came about a foot from my head then she re-adjusted and brought it in front of me. I actually have it on video! Just the same as humans love to be in their company, I believe they enjoy our company as well… mind you they won’t stick around if they want to be left alone.
HC: What type of lens are you using in the majority of these images? What is your favourite camera of the moment?
CP: I found the fisheye at 15mm was the best, as anything else was too tight and I was missing the complete subject. I now use the Sony A7R2 within an Aquatech waterhousing.
HC: How difficult was it to track the whales in Tonga? Do you know if they were a family group that stuck around, or were there constantly new ‘friends’ for you to meet?
CP: The Tongan guide I use is fantastic he knows their behaviour and temperaments so he helps me a lot with finding the right whales to swim with. The Whales don’t stick around in one place for too long so I am always meeting new whales with new personalities. Some Mothers with new borns are very protective so generally we leave them alone to feed and bond.
HC: I have no doubt that you feel privileged to be a photographer and have the opportunity to be in the Ocean shooting these mammals in their own environment. What else are you grateful for?
CP: I’m so grateful for the ability to travel and work at the same time. Adventure is my fuel in life and to have the opportunity to explore our planet and it be my job, makes me so grateful. Also creating awareness through my images for Conservation and how beautiful our environment is, this is a big one for me!
HC: What do you get up to when you’re not using your artistic photography skills?
CP: Hmmmm… a lot of editing and planning new trips. This year I’m running two sold out whale photography workshops in Tonga [August and September] and have just launched a new workshop for March 2017 – the Africa Predator Photography Workshop – which will see us heading to Botswana. So that combined with new assignments takes a lot of planning and organising.
HC: I believe you have called Lennox Head home for some years? What are the things you love best, about living in Northern NSW?
CP: I grew up in Ballina and moved to Lennox about 15 years ago. The ability to be swimming in a protected marine playground and then be able to jump in the car for an hour and be in an amazing National Park!
HC: Name one person and subject that has been a source of inspiration for your photography and that you believe has most influenced your imagery.
CP: The photographers name is David Doubilet. He has been a major influence in my work. I strive to have the clarity and composition he delivers.
HC: What is your favourite travel destination and where to next for Craig Parry?
CP: My favourite… The destination that I haven’t been to yet! I’m always on the look out for the new and undiscovered…
HC: Finally, tell us how people can get involved in your workshops.
CP: This year’s Tonga Whale Photography Workshops are sold out, but I am currently taking bookings for my Africa Predator Photography Workshop [March 2017].
I also regularly run weekend Oceanic Photography Workshops in Byron Bay and provide one on one tuition upon request.
To be the first in the know, people are encouraged to follow me on Instagram and Facebook and also sign up to my monthly newsletter Odyssey.
“It is difficult to explain the power of such an experience – humbling, awe-inspiring and overwhelming are three words which immediately spring to mind. In the short time these magnificent creatures welcomed me into their World, I gained a deeper appreciation for their intelligence and gentle nature.”
— Quote from Craig’s website.
As an Ambassador for SONY, Craig specializes in nature, marine and landscape photography and strives to capture the world’s landscapes and oceans to share with his audience the beauty of the world and generate awareness and respect for the environment.
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