Humpback whales are captured close-up in photo series

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  • Jem Cresswell spent three years following humpbacks during their annual migration to Vava’a island 
  • The underwater photographer said he was drawn to the whales’ ‘gentle nature’ and ‘sheer size’
  • During three expeditions he took more than 10,000 photos, which are now part of a limited edition series 

Sadie Whitelocks for MailOnline

The gentle grace of the mysterious humpback whale is captured in a mesmerising new photo series.

Jem Cresswell spent three years following the marine mammals during their annual migration to Vava’a island in the Tonga to get the close-up shots.

One image shows a humpback gliding towards the camera with barnacles on its underside. Another shows a mother and calf hanging close to the surface side-by-side. Some of the aquatic giants feature scratches on their ridged skin from underwater tussles or encounters with boats. 

Cresswell, who is based in Sydney, told MailOnline Travel that he was ‘initially drawn to the whales’ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence’.

As he became increasingly familiar with their behaviour, Cresswell set out to document the humpbacks in a more intimate way, taking portraits from a just several feet away. During three expeditions he took more than 10,000 photos.

Limited edition prints from Cresswell’s series Giants are currently available to purchase via the Michael Reid Sydney Gallery. He said he chose to shoot in black and white to give the photos a timeless quality ‘representing how long these creatures have been around for’.

Looking up from below: The gentle grace of the mysterious humpback whale is captured in a mesmerising new photo series

Looking up from below: The gentle grace of the mysterious humpback whale is captured in a mesmerising new photo series

Looking up from below: The gentle grace of the mysterious humpback whale is captured in a mesmerising new photo series

Stop motion: Jem Cresswell spent three years following the marine mammals during their annual migration to Vava¿a island in the Tonga to get the close-up shots

Stop motion: Jem Cresswell spent three years following the marine mammals during their annual migration to Vava¿a island in the Tonga to get the close-up shots

Stop motion: Jem Cresswell spent three years following the marine mammals during their annual migration to Vava’a island in the Tonga to get the close-up shots

In the eye of the beholder: One image shows a humpback gliding towards the camera with barnacles on its underside

In the eye of the beholder: One image shows a humpback gliding towards the camera with barnacles on its underside

In the eye of the beholder: One image shows a humpback gliding towards the camera with barnacles on its underside

Up close and personal: Cresswell, who is based in Sydney, told MailOnline Travel that he was 'initially drawn to the whales¿ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence'

Up close and personal: Cresswell, who is based in Sydney, told MailOnline Travel that he was 'initially drawn to the whales¿ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence'

Up close and personal: Cresswell, who is based in Sydney, told MailOnline Travel that he was ‘initially drawn to the whales’ gentle nature, sheer size and the feeling of insignificance in their presence’

Playing up to the camera: As he became increasingly familiar with their behaviour, Cresswell set out to document the humpbacks in a more intimate way, taking portraits from only a few feet away

Playing up to the camera: As he became increasingly familiar with their behaviour, Cresswell set out to document the humpbacks in a more intimate way, taking portraits from only a few feet away

Playing up to the camera: As he became increasingly familiar with their behaviour, Cresswell set out to document the humpbacks in a more intimate way, taking portraits from only a few feet away

Source of inspiration: During three expeditions, Cresswell took more than 10,000 photos and had to be stringent about the selection process 

Source of inspiration: During three expeditions, Cresswell took more than 10,000 photos and had to be stringent about the selection process 

Source of inspiration: During three expeditions, Cresswell took more than 10,000 photos and had to be stringent about the selection process 

A family affair: This beautiful shot shows a mother and calf gliding under the water's surface side-by-side

A family affair: This beautiful shot shows a mother and calf gliding under the water's surface side-by-side

A family affair: This beautiful shot shows a mother and calf gliding under the water’s surface side-by-side

Up for grabs: Limited edition prints from Cresswell's series Giants are currently available to purchase via the Michael Reid Sydney Gallery. He said he chose to shoot in black and white to give the photos a timeless quality 'representing how long these creatures have been around for'

Up for grabs: Limited edition prints from Cresswell's series Giants are currently available to purchase via the Michael Reid Sydney Gallery. He said he chose to shoot in black and white to give the photos a timeless quality 'representing how long these creatures have been around for'

Up for grabs: Limited edition prints from Cresswell’s series Giants are currently available to purchase via the Michael Reid Sydney Gallery. He said he chose to shoot in black and white to give the photos a timeless quality ‘representing how long these creatures have been around for’

Into the blue: The blue waters where Cresswell conducted his diving trips were perfect for capturing clear shots

Into the blue: The blue waters where Cresswell conducted his diving trips were perfect for capturing clear shots

Into the blue: The blue waters where Cresswell conducted his diving trips were perfect for capturing clear shots

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