Tony Wu Photography

The best things in life are not things


Welcome to an online showcase of some of my favourite images.

I have been photographing and writing about nature, mostly submerged subjects, since 1995. Let's just say that I've accumulated a lot of pictures in that time. I post images and stories relatively often to my blog, but friends have remarked on a number of occasions that there is no single place where I share what I consider to be my favourite images.

In part, it's because creating a web page or site takes time, in front of a computer no less. All things being equal, I'd rather be out learning about animals, their lives and their environments. Also, it's difficult to pick out a handful of photos from thousands of images. For every photo I choose, I know there are dozens more I'd like to share.

But I will attempt to do so here.


Getting to watch sperm whales poop has to be one the best things in life.

Photo of me documenting Physeter scat courtesy of Jenny Huang


The idea behind this site is to share a representative portfolio, not a comprehensive catalogue. I will do my best to select a reasonable number of images and keep the word count down, to let the pictures speak for themselves.

The selection is skewed toward whales, because...well, everyone seems to like pictures of whales, and I've devoted a substantial portion of my life to studying and photographing cetaceans. I am including photographs of other stuff too. There is so much in nature to see and appreciate that the photographic possibilities are endless.

If you're in the market for stock images, please click through to my Photoshelter account. If you are about to ask me to send you photos for free, please refer to this page. To read my occasional ramblings and view photos from travels, this is my blog. Social media links are in the footer of this page.


Spending quality time with friends is one of the perks of waiting around for wildlife to do something.

Photo of Julian and Ildi ignoring my dopey expression courtesy of Colin Lee


Though it's easiest to answer, "photographer" when someone asks what I do, I have come to consider myself a photo-naturalist.

I don't think it's an official word. It should be though. The closest entry in Oxford online is the word naturalist, defined as "An expert in or student of natural history," with natural history defined as: "The scientific study of animals or plants, especially as concerned with observation rather than experiment, and presented in popular form."

That describes me. But photo gear replaces traditional use of pen and notepad. Photographs replace sketches. I take copious notes, record observations, and share what I can with whomever will listen. I devote my entire life to the study of nature.

The way I see it, anyone who has the good fortune, privilege and opportunity to observe what remains of the natural world has a duty to learn, share, protect. I elaborated upon this point in a blog post, originally an article I contributed to Outdoor Photographer magazine.

To describe my philosophy and to serve as a constant reminder to myself of what's important—namely, appreciation of beauty and furthering of knowledge, I came up with the Latin phrase ars gratia scientiae, or art for the sake of knowledge. (Read blog post on how I initially flubbed the Latin).

Note: Click to read an excellent opinion piece by Jennifer Frazer about the demise of the discipline of natural history in modern times.


Even if sometimes the "quality" part of quality time can be questionable.

Photo of me with Douglas Seifert taste-testing Architeuthis dux giant squid courtesy of Emily Irving. For the record,  Architeuthis reeks of ammonia and tastes bloody awful.


It is important also to convey that the creation of meaningful images, at least the way I do it, is a group effort. There are so many people who have helped, from friends who travel with me, friends and guides on location, researchers who share their knowledge, and creators of the stuff that makes it possible for me to take photos underwater (ZillionNauticam and RGBlue).

OK, enough rambling. Please click through and enjoy the photos and accompanying descriptions.

Galleries: Megaptera | Physeter | Cetacea | Reef 'n Fish | Spawning | Monochrome


But it's all good in the end, because of the incredible experiences, unique opportunities to learn, and of course...the beautiful animals.

Photo of me trying not to let on that I'm freezing and just want to escape to the sanity of the tropics courtesy of Thomas Kleiven