Gargantuan whale. A giant polar bear. A giant ape.
Photographers Marco Dimitrievich and Amos Nachom are fascinated by giant animals. They met while looking for humpback whales in Tonga and found that they were both passionate about big beasts.
teNeues Publishers’ new book, BIG: The World’s Largest Animal Photo Album, collects images from 30 years of wildlife photography and tells the story behind each shot.
In some, Nachoum conveyed the excitement of being in the water with polar bears. He reportedly dives with polar bears and only five people took pictures to prove it. He says he is still the only photographer who did it.
Dimitrijevic talked with Treehugger about why big animals are so attractive and the difficulty of shooting such an overwhelming subject.
Treehugger: What is your attraction to big animals? Why do you think they are more intriguing than others?
Marco Dimitri Evic: I love all wild animals, but big animals stir me very strong emotions. Most large animals are mammals and have numerous behaviors and characteristics that resonate strongly with us humans. Underwater, I love interacting with sharks as well as marine mammals while watching their wonderful facial expressions.
What are the challenges when shooting such a large subject? Is there any benefit to focusing on big creatures?
The main challenge is that some of these large creatures can be dangerous when approached without proper precautions and plans. I always use local guides and professionals and follow their recommendations rooted in local knowledge and experience. The advantage of shooting large animals is that they stand out more than small animals. Even large ones are very good at camouflage. Adult tigers can hide in grass less than a foot tall.
What was your favorite moment behind the camera?
Shooting rare animals like Caracal is always very exciting. It also captures behaviors such as the bears coming out of the river shaking their bodies. My favorite moment is to see the animals stare at me. That short moment when our eyes meet is really special. Being underwater and interacting with whale watching is magical. Similarly, on land, looking deep into the eyes of lions and tigers is one of my most unforgettable encounters.
How did you find each other and realize that you have similar photo interests?
I met in Tonga on a trip looking for humpback whales and found that they shared a passion for big animals. From there we soon became good friends. While traveling together, I discovered the joy of learning from each other. We also aim to excel in our imaging and conservation efforts that result from our adventures.
Some animals aren’t that big, but you say they “feel big”. Can you give us an example of animals and their sensations?
That’s what I’ve experienced a lot underwater. Probably because there is no vehicle or underwater protection that may be on land. Or maybe it’s because it’s moving very slowly in the water. But when there is only a camera between the head and the mask, sharks smaller than me, such as 5 feet 125 pounds, often feel very large in the water. It’s not bigger than me, but it feels very big when I’m in front of a fast and strong animal.
Are there any animals you still want to shoot?
I’m interested in creating more rhino images as these wonderful animals may not be seen any longer. Primates are also at the top of my list. I would like to observe chimpanzees and bonobos.
What else do you want to shoot with the lens?
I love taking pictures of forests and landscapes where animals are only a small part of the picture. The animals in these images are more like punctuation marks than the complete sentences in my wildlife images. I love British Columbia Forest and Canadian Yukon. Especially when it’s covered with snow.
And you can give a little background: where you came from, how you got interested in photography, etc.
I was born and raised in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. I’ve been interested in photography since I was a teenager, spending hours taking pictures of the creatures, surrounding landscapes and people in the backyard. I learned photography in the field. I traveled a lot for photography and pursued an entrepreneurial career. Over the years, I have been fascinated by my lenses and nature photography focused on endangered wildlife, marine species and ecosystems.