Medium: Underwater photography & Aerial Photography & Filmmaker
Passion for Nature:
From snowy mountaintops to underwater caves, he leads a nomadic lifestyle, exploring and photographing the world’s diverse natural habitats to document and photograph our planet. Karim plans to continue traveling around the world while photographing humpback, sperm whales, and other wildlife species to defend the fragile ecosystems on our planet.
I had been traveling around the world for two years after university when I met a girl on Maui who told me she worked for the Pacific Whale Foundation. I got the idea in my head that I could swim with whales. I followed up, got a photography job there, and moved to Maui, only to find out that it is illegal and incredibly difficult to obtain a permit to swim with whales on Maui. So I ended up working on the boat and watching them breaching (jumping) and splashing.
I almost didn’t go. The whole endeavor was incredibly expensive. But it kept coming back and I kept dreaming of the whales. So I pulled my savings, borrowed a large chunk of money from my family, and booked a trip to Tonga. Eight days in the water. I told myself it would be worth it.
I stopped taking pictures as a five meter tail whipped past me, and I sat suspended in the water watching the chaos unfold around me. At the last moment, the whales split and went around me, to avoid crushing me – an insignificant little creature floating in the water. When I look back at the last few pictures I had taken, it is very clear that the whale that nearly smashed into me was looking at me. They were aware of my presence and made a conscious effort to go out of their way not to hurt me. To me, this was a powerful, humbling experience in which we humans can learn something from the gentle giants of the ocean.
I felt everything from humility, fear, love, amazement, and excitement when swimming with the humpbacks. Every interaction was so different. It’s impossible to fully describe the feelings within me.
To me it is extremely important to protect our marine ecosystems and the creatures that live with in them. I try to show intimate moments, interactions, and expressions in my photos, in order to make people realize that these gentle giants are not dangerous beasts and that we can not afford to lose them.”
Karim’s work can be bought through his website in various sizes and materials such as canvas and aluminum. In addition to his still photography, he films and edits aerial and underwater video. Karim Iliya Photography can provide a complete package according to your needs. For quotes and inquiries you can contact Karim at KarimIliya@gmail.com
Visit Karims website for his work or to order prints
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Watch his videos