This exhibition  showcases eleven life-size images of dwarf minke whales from the Great Barrier Reef, sperm whales from the Eastern Caribbean, and humpback whales from the South Pacific.




Minke Whale Composite One at Tamada Museum



Studio: Cosmos



Humpback Whale Mother and Calf III



Minke Whale Portrait



Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II




Beautiful Whale – life size photography by Bryant Austin

11 April 2014 – 1 February 2015
Australian National Maritime Museum
Darling Harbour, Sydney

From the gallery

This exhibition  showcases eleven life-size images of dwarf minke whales from the Great Barrier Reef, sperm whales from the Eastern Caribbean, and humpback whales from the South Pacific.

Californian photographer Bryant Austin has been photographing whales for twenty years. His body of work represents the largest and most detailed photography of whales in the world, and he is the only one making photographs of this size.

Austin spends weeks and sometimes months with groups of whales. Using only a snorkel he waits alone, suspended in the water patiently waiting for a whale to pass within two metres of his lens. The result is extraordinarily intimate and detailed portraits that illuminate the majesty and spectacle of nature’s underwater giants.

Through his work Austin creates one of kind images and promotes a message of conservation.

“For the first time in recorded history, many cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are expected to vanish as a direct result of human activity”¦ I am making an effort through my work to reveal these magnificent and vulnerable beings to others so we can learn from them,” he said.

Beautiful Whale ““ life size photography by Bryant Austin is the largest collection of Austin’s work to date. The exhibition is supported by the USA Bicentennial Gift.

The exhibition is part of the museum’s Whale Season which also features the international exhibition Amazing Whales ““ Evolution and Survival from the Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. It immerses visitors in the world of whales and highlights the importance of conservation to their survival.

The Whale Season will also feature a display of quirky whale artefacts from the museum’s collection, a full range of whale inspired public programs and school holiday activities and an aquatic inspired roof projection during the Vivid Sydney festival in May.


A Mother Listens, Humpback Whale, 2006

About Bryant Austin

Bryant Austin is an experimental multi-media artist whose life-long passion has been exploring the depths of possibility in connecting with the greatest minds in the waters. The impetus behind his work is the thought of losing over five million years of evolving culture and communication in the largest brain ever to exist on Earth; to not only lose it, but to never understand what we’ve lost.

His journey and challenge to recreate the transcendent sensation one experiences floating an arm’s length away from the eye of an inquisitive whale, has compelled him to create breath-taking photo mosaics at “whale scale”- both in terms of size and in the level of detail witnessed in ‘real life’.

This inspiration was brought to light in 2004 when, floating motionless, he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder, one that felt too solid to originate from a dive companion. As he slowly turned to investigate the tap’s source, he became eye-to-eye with a 45 ton female humpback whale. She had reached out with her two ton, 15 foot long pectoral fin to gently touch him, letting him know that she was behind him.

Her eye was fully illuminated from the late afternoon sun scintillating over his shoulder. Looking into her eye, he saw for the first time the calm mindful expression of a whale peering into his own eyes. In that instant he saw clearly what had been missing in the four decade effort to visually communicate the reality of whales – moments like these documented on their terms, at their scale.

The epiphany was powerful and clear, leading him to sell everything he owned, including his home, and leaving a job of eight years at a sea otter research facility. By 2009, Austin composed the largest and most detailed photographs of whales that have ever existed in the world. His work has been met with international acclaim, and has been received enthusiastically during exhibits worldwide, including shows in Norway and Japan ““ countries that continue to hunt whales. Austin anticipated that these would be his most intractable critics. Instead, by allowing viewers to exercise freedom to explore their own responses, he has come away from these experiences with a renewed sense of optimism, knowing that with sufficient time and intention, it is possible to promote changes in attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.

With these discoveries, Austin is expanding his creative vision and forging new paths to integrate cutting-edge science and technology with an artist’s creative vision and perspective. He is now pursuing his next commission to create a ninety foot wide photograph of a blue whale in extraordinary detail. The same technology, methods and techniques to create this photograph will be applied to creating a life-size mosaic of a living whale entangled in fishing gear to illuminate the consequences for our unsustainable love for sea food that collectively kills over 300,000 whales dolphins and porpoises each year.

Bryant’s website: