A Morning with Dolphins (2017)

It was a calm, chilly morning along the southern California coast. I had been waiting out the weather and the sea conditions for a few days, and finally, the right conditions that I had been waiting for had arrived. I had the incredible opportunity to photograph wild dolphins and whales for the past week, and I had an idea in my mind that I wanted to bring to fruition. My time was running out on this trip, but I thought today could be the day and my last chance to capture images. The slightest of a sea breeze brushed across my cheek as I loaded up my camera gear into my backpack and boarded the boat. Upon leaving the harbor, the sea surface transformed into a beautiful glassy calm. The ocean was a stunning dark blue, punctuated by the occasional light ray dancing into the endless depths. Suddenly, splashes in the distance appeared, and the dolphins raced across the glassy seas towards to boat.

Finally, this was the moment I had been waiting for. I wanted the chance to photograph them through this glassy surface, a sort of gateway into their world. For the next hour, I was allowed to see them as they are through my lens. I photographed their social interactions with each other as they swam under the surface. I looked back at them when they turned their eyes past the surface to look at me. I couldn’t help but wonder what they see and think when they look back at us? When a dolphin looks at you, it feels like it can look right into your soul, and when I look back, there is a familiarity there. I could also see their scars and injuries present on their skin, representing the daily struggle of life. Quite similar to ourselves, scars are a lesson learned and a story to be told.

Dolphins have captivated generations throughout the hundreds of years. As you observe them, specific attributes they possess remind us of ourselves. They nurture strong bonds with each other, work together as a team when hunting, and take time out of their day to ride bow waves and jump out of the water for sheer joy. I wanted to present these images in a series of images to capture their essence, and I felt that presenting them in black and white added a dimension and presence that brought out each dolphin’s unique features. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity that I had this day to photograph these amazing souls of the sea and for them allowing me to capture their nuances and interactions through my lens.

This project was published in the 2017 Lenswork, "Seeing in Sixes" book, and issue #137 of Lenswork magazine.