Words & Images: Michael Schauer-

Whales have been my favorite animals for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was very, very little their slow and gracious movements, their seeming calmness and their otherworldly singing kept me under their spell and every time I see a video or an image of a whale, I get this curious feeling that I had when I was five years old and saw a blue whale for the first time in my life. In our home television.

From this day on, whales would become my spirit animals, as some of my friends would say, and every book, movie and documentary about whales was just inhaled by my young and insatiable mind and somehow… they became a part of me and who I am and what I photograph. I am especially fond of slow and cinematic sceneries. Sceneries that extort a subtle sense of power but power beneath the surface. Power which is collected in calmness and which radiates graciously through the landscape. Therefore, whales resonate deeply with my work and who I am as a human being as their collected and calm aura has something inspiringly stoic about it and their singing of songs cradles me in a soothing drone. Yet, at the same time, they are full of life and contagious joy when they play. I get this feeling of celebration of life and livelihood through a calm and slow catalyst and that is what I like to find in my work as well.

Iceland in September of 2017. I drove all the way up to the Eyja fjord where there is the small village Hauganes, which is about thirty kilometers north of Akureyri. In Eyjafjörður there are humpback whales, they told me, and I am determined to see them.
Twenty minutes on the vessel and the zodiac speedboats zip past us- a film crew armed with serious gear- they spotted something we did as well. Fins and spouts in the distance where the school of humpbacks surfaces to take a deep breath before going on yet another seven minute dive. We are closing in on them and the next thing I hear and smell is the explosive sound of a humpback breathing out right next to the vessel. They are almost in touching distance as if they greet us. Them and the crew surely are old acquaintances.
Kindly, the captain allows me to launch my small drone from the rear of the ship and what I see cannot be described in words. I tried but I can not find anything to justify the endless beauty and grace of whales seen from above. Only ear to ear smiles, sometimes turning into laughter, and a bright and exalted blue in my eyes.

© all pictures Michael Schauer with kind permission

More about our contributor Michael Schauer here.

Take care dear reader! Melanie Kettner