About Cherish Claire
When I was approaching my sixteenth birthday, I decided I wanted to be a
professional photographer. I am not sure I even knew what that really meant or
what I wanted to take pictures of, but my parents recognized a dream in the
making. They pulled together and bought me a Nikon FG-20, a 55mm lens, a
flash, and a bag. Christmas brought the coveted 70-200mm zoom lens.
As with many young people, this "dream" soon took a back seat to numerous
other aspirations over the years. By the time I got to college, I had selected the
much straighter path of business and hospitality management. I enjoyed this
career for about 7 years, but a new dream had been building. I longed to work
with whales and dolphins. More than anything, I envisioned swimming with
these creatures in the open ocean. After a tough move away from my family in
Virginia, I started my quest in what I had been told was the "hot bed" of marine
animal activity, San Diego, California. This led to many other adventures and a
lot of research into the various possibilities of getting into the marine field.
Above all, I spent many a day at Sea World, trying to break into animal training.
In 1994 I met a professional photographer named Jeff Pantukhoff who first opened up to me the world
of marine animals in the wild. It was a trip that he and I took to the breathtaking
Sea of Cortez, Mexico, that I consider my first semi-professional shoot - to be
defined as traveling to a great location and shooting lots and lots of film in
hopes of capturing one or more shots worthy of sale. I continue to define
professional photography in that way. Most of the dolphin and sea lion
photographs in my collection are from that first trip.
It was not long after this that I discovered the Whale Conservation Institute (WCI)
and its research vessel Odyssey. WCI has since changed its name to Ocean Alliance.
I have been working with Ocean Alliance/WCI since 1995, when
I first volunteered during a haul-out of the boat in San Diego. Many dreams have
been fulfilled in that time, and they continue. WCI takes me to incredible places
with new species of marine animals and photo opportunities galore. So, I take my
camera with me.
What may surprise you is that for the entire collection shown on this site (with the
exception of the Patagonia images), I was still shooting the same Nikon with
the same two lenses, and it was manual everything. I manually set my focus and
aperture for every shot and even manually wind, usually allowing me only one shot
per breach or jump of a whale or dolphin. I have only recently purchased my first new
camera and lens.
All of the shots you see here on the website are as they appeared to my naked eye -
I just tried my best to make it possible for me to see it all again for years to come.
And now I share these dreams, these fabulous moments in time, with you and others. I hope they
bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart, as they have to mine.
Photo Gallery I /
Gallery II /
Gallery III /
Gallery IV /
Gallery V /
Gift Shop & Ordering /
About Ocean Alliance /
Retail Stores /
Special Thanks /
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Webmaster: Cherish Claire
Cherish Claire Photography
P.O. Box 7331
Charlottesville, VA 22906 USA
Date of last Revision - November 5, 2001
© 1998 Cherish Claire Photography - Images may not be taken for re-publication or commercial use without permission