"The Humpback whale had quickly become one of my favourite subjects to photograph after travelling to Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga for the very first time in 2014. Nothing quite compares to a 50ft conscious animal coming within inches of your camera. It only takes one interaction to realise we are not examining them, in fact it is more the other way around. To witness let alone photograph a nursing Humpback whale calf was something I had only ever dreamt of until this interaction. In October 2016 on the fifth day of an eight-day assignment with seven photography students who had joined me in Tonga, that magical moment presented itself in the most organic way possible. Three students and I were interacting with a very curious and confident (male) calf that had become quite popular throughout Vava’u. After roughly an hour of interaction the once energetic calf had quickly lost interest in us and started to spend more time at depth with its relaxed and motionless mother that was vertically positioned head down tail up. It felt appropriate to give the pair some space and we decided to slowly swim back to the waiting boat, but over the next few minutes something truly amazing started to unfold. I noticed the calf awkwardly moving around its gigantic resting mother until finally placing its mouth ready for part of its daily consumption of around 200 litres of milk. I couldn’t believe my eyes. As a photographer, when finding myself in a once in a life-time position there is always a very important decision to make. Do I listen to my heart, be completely present and enjoy the moment for what it is? Or do I listen to my head, desperately position myself accordingly, place my eye against the viewfinder of my water housing and endeavour to cement this precious moment in time? The decision was clear, and so was the importance of not disturbing either mother or calf. To achieve an image worthy of my ‘Black’ series, I knew I needed to utilise the deep blue water below while positioning myself so the sun was behind me. This helps me naturally achieve a dark background full of contrast while maintaining a perfectly exposed subject. At times and well-aware of my own movements, I found myself within meters of the undisturbed pair as I carefully composed each image. The raw data from my images suggests that the entire moment lasted close to four minutes and in that time, I managed to capture a couple of images I was really happy with. It was very important to edit this image in a way where it created conversation and told story, all while maintaining a true sense of raw nature. I love the mystery behind Nurture and this image wouldn’t have been possible without the distinctive white body of the mother. I am still yet to see another image that documents a vertically positioned (head down tail up) resting mother while its calf balances (and feeds) horizontally. To me, Nurture is the absolute definition of both 'wild' and 'life' photographed in one of the greatest moments I have ever witnessed underwater."   Words by Matt Draper

" N U R T U R E "

“Nurture is the absolute definition of both ‘wild’ and ‘life’. The undeniable bond between mother and calf portrayed in this intimate moment signifies the true strength needed to not only exist, but to endure.”


October 2016

Male Humpback whale calf nursing from its mother.

Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga.

Photographed under natural light while freediving.


A Matt Draper fine art print is unique and very exclusive. To preserve his works integrity and honour the time and effort spent behind the scenes of every series, Draper ensures that each individual photograph is only printed a very limited number of times and to the highest quality.


Limited edition archival pigment print.

All raw camera files are edited and prepared for print by Matt Draper. Using professionally created custom profiles and colour-correct monitors, Draper and his printing lab can produce accurate, exhibition-grade, archival fine art prints.

Each fine art print is made to order and printed on Canson® Infinity Rag Photographique 100% cotton, museum grade-white, fine art and photo paper. The exceptionally smooth white tone is achieved during manufacturing by introducing natural minerals to the process. This 310gsm paper offers a unique, extra smooth surface with a matte finish. It has been developed to address the need for continued longevity, making it ideal for fine art photography as well as fine art printmaking.

The original fine art printing of Nurture was supervised and approved by Matt Draper.


Edition of eight plus two artist proofs.

• 24 x 36 inch

Actual image size - 609mm x 914mm.

A sufficient white border is added to assist with handling as well as framing options.


Each individual fine art print comes with a hand signed certificate of authenticity, which is letterpress printed in Byron Bay, Australia on a vintage printing press that has remained in the area since 1963.


Express shipping to most countries with real-time tracking and insurance provided. 


Custom framing options can be discussed for Australia orders only.


Available on request.


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