Swedish photographer selected as a modern day hero
Swedish underwater photographer and filmmaker Göran Ehlmé has been selected by San Miguel as one of the brand's 20 'life-rich' individuals.
Here he talks about his life as a marine photographer.
What’s your most memorable underwater encounter?
‘I’ve been lucky to experience a lot of amazing encounters with marine mammals. It’s hard to choose between Walrus, killer whales or leopard seals which have been my three favourites, but I guess it’s the leopard seal. I was so surprised by the first encounter, which gave me no time to adjust to my new friend. It felt up-close and dangerous from the first second. It was like suddenly after weeks of preparations and weeks of travelling I was there in the little Zodiac at the location I’d been recommended by my friend Doug Allan. Dream Island was the best leopard seal country and there she was a big female leopard seal cruising around the boat, I thought to myself that once I go in the water she will slowly approach with a mix of curiosity, being cautious and a bit nervous much the same as me. We will get time to adapt and to learn from each other that we are and that none of us are dangerous to the other, but how wrong I was. I slipped into the water and then a second as the air bubbles that I drag with me in my descent cleared I had a massive open jaw right up to my face. I flew out of the water like a rocket and into the boat, but that’s probably my most memorable encounter. It’s a long story but at the end of the next day we became used to each other.
What marine animal do you most like photographing?
‘It’s the killer whale, there is no animal more beautiful, gracious, powerful, perfect designed marine mammal than the orca’
What is the biggest challenge shooting sperm whales in the Azores?
‘Underwater there are factors such as first visibility, weather conditions, number of animals on location that and whether the animals are willing to be close to you. If these four factors are fine then all is good, and they were for my experience. However, we did had to postpone the San Miguel ‘Rich List’ video shoot for three days due to a storm but that is something you have to take into your planning to be able to be flexible and to get lots of days on location to give the shoot a good chance of success.’
What is next on your target list?
‘Orcas in northern Norway, the orcas have found the way back to the shores and fjords south of Tromsö in big numbers. They feed together with humpback whales on the herring, it’s an amazing bonanza of whales which I have been shooting for the last four years and it’s just getting better and better for each year.’
Göran Ehlmé is the first person to be included by San Miguel as part of its search for the San Miguel Rich List, a list of 20 ‘life-rich’ individuals from across the globe who have unique, compelling, aspirational human stories. To find out more about the campaign, and discover other life-rich individuals, visit www.sanmiguel.co.uk/richlist