Anchorage, AK

Woman gives up corporate job to take photos of humpback whales: “They grabbed my heart”

Amy Christie

A woman from Pennsylvania decided she had had enough of the corporate life and that it was time to step into a profession that would inspire her.

Her dream was to take amazing photos, and she found a way to capture breathtaking shots that could reach people worldwide.

What are the details?

Mary Parkhill, from Pittsburgh, decided to become a full-time photographer and go to Alaska. While she was fishing for salmon and halibut, the woman got the chance to spot humpback whales surfacing, and she captured the unforgettable moments on camera.

“I noticed humpback whales coming up for air and gazed at them until they showed their flukes and then dived to the depths of the ocean. The gentle giants grabbed my heart, and I have been hooked trying to photograph them to tell their story ever since,” she wrote on her website, Mary’s Mark.

She understood she would need patience and determination because whales are unpredictable and don’t have a set schedule. In the beginning, she didn’t know what to expect when she spotted them coming to the surface and blowing steam up in the air.

She eventually realized the whales were following a pattern, and in her trip, Mary managed to produce outstanding photos posted on her website.

“The weather conditions are another factor. In Southeast Alaska, it can rain a lot, bringing gloomy, dark clouds and unforgiving seas. These conditions are tough to be out in, but they also make photographing action shots pretty difficult. There’s not much you can do when there is rough weather which is why having a lot of patience can help,” Mary explained.

It was no simple task capturing the fantastic action on camera due to the “relentless sea” constantly “slapping the boat” and making it a challenge to snap the photos.

“It’s hard to have the discipline to stay focused and ready to photograph a whale when you’ve been observing for hours. Whales often breach without warning, and they only do it once. Make sure you have great rain gear!” was Mary’s advice to anyone who wants to try a similar adventure.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX
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