Lebanese-American Photographer Gets Close & Personal With Nature’s Gentle Giants


Growing up in the Middle East, Lebanese-American professional underwater photographer Karim Iliya became intrigued by nature at a young age.

From chasing the mysteries in the sea to erupting volcanoes and even wildlife, he followed nature where curiosity took him.

From submerging with the magnificent sea life, Iliya also surfaces to capture earth’s astounding landscape.

Today, he is based between Hawaii and Colorado, where he works as a professional photographer, drone pilot filmmaker, and whale swimming guide.

For a few summer weeks, Iliya dedicates his time to taking the world into the deep blue to dance with the whales, literally.

In the islands of Tonga, he is giving people the rare opportunity to swim, snorkel, and free-dive with nature’s gentle giants by organizing his ‘Dance With Whales‘ trips.

According to him, the majestic humpback whales come to Vava’u Tonga to mate and have babies once a year. This is when people are able to gently admire them in nature before the sea creatures set off into the vast ocean.

Iliya has a number of accolades and impressive achievements, including winning 1st place as National Geographic’s photographer of the year in 2017 in the landscape category for this awe-striking picture:

In 2021, he won the Marine Conservation of the Year Award in the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition.