Karim Iliya. Eye of the Giant.

Karim Iliya. Eye of the Giant.

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Eye contact with a humpback whale is incredibly powerful. They are intelligent, curious, social animals with unique personalities and moods that gather across the world for a few months to socialize, breed, and raise their new born calves. This is the eye of a humpback whale calf that came over to me while I was freediving off the coast of Vava’u, Tonga. In moments like this it is hard to bring the camera in front of my face and look through the viewfinder. Instead I rely on my instinct and my hands to compose and shoot the photos without looking, so that I can use my eyes to experience these brief moments.

Karim Iliya is a photographer, filmmaker, and whale swimming guide based in Iceland and Hawaii. Born in 1990, he grew up in the Middle East and Asia and developed a curiosity for the natural world. This has brought him alongside battling whales, amidst exploding volcanoes, deep within the ice worlds of the Arctic, and into many of the fascinating places that humans and animals make their home. 

In 2023 Karim will be flying in the starship rocket on a one week trip around the moon.

Follow Karim on instagram @karimiliya.

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