Jem Cresswell

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Photography

Interview: Photographer Jem Cresswell Speaks to the Intimacy and Humility of Documenting Humpback Whales

January 11, 2021

Anna Marks

For years, Sydney-based photographer Jem Cresswell (previously) has been diving into the ocean to document the otherwise unseen lives of humpback whales, a humbling experience he recounts in the latest interview supported by Colossal Members. He discusses what drew him to the mammalian subject matter and how collaborating with them during a long period has offered insight into their complex natures. There is very little you can control underwater—you are at the mercy of the elements—and of the wildlife. You can’t force a natural interaction with a wild…

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Photographer Jem Cresswell Speaks to the Intimacy and Humility of Documenting Humpback Whales

January 11, 2021

Grace Ebert

Colossal contributor Anna Marks spoke with photographer Jem Cresswell during the 2020 holidays via email. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  All images © Jem Cresswell, shared with permission Anna: In comparison to other art mediums, what inspired you to become a photographer? How did you get into it? Jem: My dad was 48 when I was born. He was an avid landscape photographer with a love of the outdoors. He initially encouraged me to explore the medium. On a couple of family holidays when I was young, we would compete capturing different images of the same…

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Photography

A New Book Documents the Magnificent Experience of Swimming with Humpback Whales

November 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

Between 2014 and 2018, Jem Cresswell spent countless hours submerged in the depths of the southern Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga. There he captured a group of humpback whales as they gracefully maneuvered around him, allowing the Sydney-based photographer to unveil the details of their grooved underbellies and barnacle-clad skin. The original project has culminated in a new book that documents the creatures' movements and idiosyncrasies in striking black-and-white images. Giants spans 220 pages detailing the humpbacks and their calves. To complete the massive book, Cresswell pared down more…

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Photography

Giants: A Black and White Series Captures the Complexity of the Humpback Whale

May 30, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Over the last three years photographer Jem Cresswell has photographed humpback whales during their annual migration to Vava’u, Tonga, swimming with the great creatures in the vast waters of the southern Pacific Ocean. Cresswell's series Giants captures the individual personality of the great whales, each of which seem to pose specifically for his underwater camera. "I was initially drawn to the whales’ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence," said Cresswell. "Over the past 3 years returning to Tonga, I have sought to capture intimate portraits of these complex and conscious animals, bringing the viewer into the world of…

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