Freelance photographer Rita Kluge treats the world as her oyster. Based in the beautiful beaches of Sydney, Australia, the German transplant travels the planet, committed to “capturing the ocean and all it has to offer; be it surfers, swells or marine wildlife.” Each bathed-in-blue, fascinating photograph offers a gorgeous glimpse into life below the surface. In a recent series, Kluge gets up close and personal with whale calves, documenting their playful personalities and exploring the unbreakable bonds they share with their mothers.
Kluge has dedicated much of her life to literally diving into her subject matter, boldly entering the unknown and coming face-to-face with whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, sea lions, and other marine life. Her underwater inspirations comprise a beautiful portfolio, which. Despite her multifaceted lifestyle and eclectic background, in which she doubles as a physiotherapist and has experience as an instructor of Wing Chun King Fu, snowboarding, surfing, and waterskiing, she calls photography her “great passion.” Lately, the zealous photographer has exhibited a focus on young whales
In 2015, Kluge traveled to Tonga. Having arrived in the winter—the South Pacific’s humpback calving season—she was treated to picture-perfect interactions with newborn and baby whales. Eager to capture their unique personalities, she shot a variety of photographs, from close-up, expressive portraits to mother-baby scenes from a wider angle. Though the calves she photographs are undeniably majestic, they’re also quite simply adorable. “I had a totally unreal moment when a 4 meter humpback calf, about 2-3 months old, was going straight towards me,” she shared with The Guardian. “I thought, wow, that’s cool! Then he stopped right in front of me and I started to giggle. He was standing upright. He looked like he was asking: ‘Hey will you play with me?’”
While her trip resulted in stunning, award-winning shots—she received multiple accolades from National Geographic and The Weekend Australian—her interactions with the gentle giants were worth so much more. “To look into a whale’s eye is life-changing and humbling,” she says. “You stop photographing and wave to them just to say thank you. It’s emotional, maybe like a blessing. You just have to go and see yourself.”
All images via Rita Kluge.