One of the great honors of my life has been the chance to work with, and be mentored by National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklin. Generous with his knowledge and always quick with a smile, Flip taught me by example how to work smarter rather than harder and to always be ready for the moment that often comes after days, weeks or even months of waiting. He taught me about how to become small and disappear when photographing scientific situations so as not to interfere in the scientific process. He taught me something that had been passed to him many moons ago – that “there are two kinds of pictures. The first kind shows viewers something they haven’t seen before; the second shows them something they have seen, but in such a different way that it makes the subject new and compelling again.”
Needless to say I was thrilled when Flip informed me last year that he was working on a book about his journey from working in a dive shop on the California coast to becoming National Geographic’s premiere whale photographer and marine mammal specialist. My hope was he would pen many of the nuggets of knowledge he had shared with me – and after having a chance to read ‘Among Giants, A Life with Whales’, I can honestly say he delivered.
Nicklin’s ‘Among Giants’ is an honest, and at times humorously self deprecating look into the evolution of the career of one of the greatest whale photographers of this, or any, time. Like the unforgettable song of a humpback, Nicklin’s photographs sing off the pages. Filled with images that both inspire and educate, ‘Among Giants’ opens a window to the world of whales and whale research that few have ever experienced. By proxy, the reader can learn in a few hours many of the lessons that have taken Flip a lifetime to learn. As icing on the cake, Nicklin condenses much of this knowledge in a section titled “Photo Notes” near the end of the text.
If you love the ocean, whales, marine biology or simply appreciate great photography and want to be transported into a world a only handful of people have ever seen – buy this book. If your a photographer at any level, the stories in ‘Among Giants‘ will enlighten and inform you. To make you feel even better about purchasing a copy, proceeds from the book will go towards funding the Whale Trust, a 501C(3) dedicated to bridging marine research with environmental education and conservation programs related to whales and their natural environment. Pick up the hardback edition via the Whale Trust HERE, or the iPad edition with additional audio and video HERE.