Introducing the photographers, guides & marine biologists who make up our Swimming with Gentle Giants team.
Scott Portelli – Wildlife, Aerial & Underwater Photographer
Scott is the founder of Swimming with Gentle Giants, with over 15 years of experience photographing humpback whales in Tonga. Based in Sydney, he has travelled the world extensively photographing in some of the most remote destinations, including The Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Azores, Africa and the South Pacific. As a wildlife photographer he has spent hundreds of days in pursuit of different wildlife and has been privileged to be up close and personal with many creatures.
He has spent the last decade working with Humpback whales photographing and filming their behaviour above and below the waves and has received a number of internationally acclaimed awards with works appearing in a multitude of magazines and publications including BBC’s ‘Life’ series book and various documentaries on Australian and New Zealand Television. Scott has a passion for the ocean and an affinity with whales and cetaceans.
His connection with whales is not just taking photos and tours, but also working to protect them. Scott founded and runs the Tongan Fluke Database, collecting valuable data on the population and demographics of Tonga’s humpback population. He also exhibited a collection of humpback photos to raise money to help in the fight to stop whaling in the southern ocean. By documenting and sharing these images he hopes to contribute to the awareness and conservation of the fragile creatures that inhabit this planet.
Scott is passionate about all wildlife from the smallest to the largest and is always in pursuit of those unique one-on-one experiences.
Michaela Skovranova – Photographer
Michaela Skovranova is an Australian based filmmaker, photographer, director and Olympus Visionary. You won’t find much in the way of bright colours in her photos but while desaturated, her images are dripping with emotion, drama and a certain respect for the duality between beauty and raw power that exists in the ocean and nature. Originally from Slovakia, Michaela moved to Australia where her focus shifted to documentary and underwater capture. Since then, she has amassed a variety of awards including being named on Photoboite’s list of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers. Her short films pick up the natural, ambient-lit storytelling where the images leave off.
Alice Forrest – Marine & Conservation Biologist
Alice Forrest is an award-winning conservationist based in the hills of Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast. Alice’s passion for the natural world and the creatures who inhabit it has led to a range of incredible adventures, from studying blue whales in the Indian Ocean to seabirds and plastic on remote Henderson Island.
She is happiest when interacting with wildlife, and passionate about protecting what she loves. Alongside degrees in Conservation and Marine Biology, Alice is a PADI Divemaster and has worked extensively in the marine tourism industry sharing her love of the ocean with others. Alice has spent much of the last few years in Tonga, enjoying time with the humpback whales alongside working on projects researching the impacts of plastic on our oceans, and helping communities to implement local solutions.
Through her lifestyle, writing and public outreach she hopes to inspire a greater appreciation for the planet and its last wild places. She is currently working on Scott’s social media as well as writing for various print and online publications, communicating the science and the solutions to help protect our ocean.
Andre Joanisse – Nature Photographer
I am based just south of Newcastle, with my passion for nature, I travel to far off destinations to capture landscapes and wildlife in evocative photos.
The beauty and bounty of life we experience in nature inspires me and makes me realise how special it is to be part of it all. We get given rare opportunities to glimpse into the heart of a wild animal as it graciously accepts us as part of their environment. It is truly a special moment when you make that connection with another living creature.
The more time I spend in remote places with stillness and solitude, capturing the many hues and the play of light on the landscape, the more awe inspiring the experience has become.
With my work I bring the viewer into the moment that I have experienced and to capture not just a record of the scene but to also reflect the mood and the ambience of the setting.
My goal is to enhance the experience for the people I am with, so that it becomes the most rewarding journey for them into nature’s beauty and its amazing wildlife.
Leave Only Footprints, take only photos