Phillip Colla Photography
8021 Paseo Arrayan
Carlsbad, CA 92009 USA
(760) 707-7153

I am greeting the dawn at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I am a natural history photographer and writer. I focus on wild marine animals, the California kelp forest, remote eastern Pacific islands, National Parks of the American West, waves, the night sky, and aerial panoramas. I am fortunate to have visited many spectacular terrestrial and underwater settings as well as to have encountered a variety of threatened and endangered animal species in the ocean. During the last 30 years my natural history photography has appeared in publications such as National Geographic Magazine, BBC Wildlife, Vanity Fair, Sunset, People, National Wildlife, Islands, Ocean Realm, Ranger Rick, Reader's Digest, Skin Diver and the New York Times, has been used in various advertising and publicity campaigns, and is in use in aquaria and museums around the world.

My photography has received awards in past Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature's Best, Ocean Views and National Wildlife Federation contests, the most significant and competitive wildlife photography competitions in the world.

Cover of Nature's Best Photography Magazine
Cover of Sport Diver Magazine
Cover of Sport Diver Magazine

Strengths of mine include an understanding of the underwater dynamics of socializing and competing humpback whales, using breath-hold diving in the open ocean to obtain spectacular images of marine animals such as blue whales, ocean sunfish and drifting zooplankton, and the ability to combine personal experience and factual research into exciting natural history writing. My fitness and experience is well-suited to a variety of challenging environments including the open ocean, temperate and tropic underwater habitats, deserts, coastal regions, mountain and sub-arctic terrain. I am probably the only photographer in the world whose catalog includes underwater images of all of the following: blue whales (the largest animal ever to have lived), rare endangered Guadalupe fur seals, Pacific white-sided dolphins, socializing groups of sperm whales, a newborn gray whale calf in the wild, humpback whale competitive ("fighting") groups, the odd ocean sunfish (Mola mola), distant and pristine Rose Atoll National Wildlife Sanctuary, and Olympic champion swimmers accompanied by wild dolphins. These days, most of my underwater photographs are taken breathhold diving, far from shore.

I live near San Diego, California with my wife and daughters, spending as much time as possible near, on or in the ocean.

Doing some aerial photography, photo by Mike Johnson /
Enormous blue whale approaches me in the open ocean, photo by Mike Johnson /
Enormous blue whale swims below me in the open ocean, photo by Mike Johnson /

Periodicals / News / Wire:

BBC Wildlife, National Geographic Magazine, Vanity Fair, National Wildlife and International Wildlife (NWF), GEO, Nature's Best, Nature, Science, People, Surfers Journal, All Animals, Ocean Realm, Scientific American, Sportfishing, Saltwater Sportsman, Reader's Digest, Tauchen (Germany), Islands, Skin Diver, Scuba Diving, Sport Diver, Dive (UK), Backpacker, Australian Geographic, Sea Magazine, Sunset, Highlights for Children, Unterwasser (Germany), Pacific Coast Sportfishing, Marine Photo (Japan), Natural World (UK), Living Planet (Australia), Surfing Girl (sweeeet), Carve Surf (UK), Boards (UK), Wildlife Conservation, Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic Kids, The New York Times, United Press International, USA Today, Ranger Rick and My Big Backyard (NWF), Outdoor California, California Wild

Advertising / PR / Marketing:

Pacific Life, Smith Barney, Patagonia Inc.

Books / Calendars:

BBC Books, World Books Publishing, National Geographic Society Books, World Wildlife Fund, American Greetings, Time Inc., Prentice Hall, Cambridge University Press, John Wiley and Sons, Houghton-Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, US Postal Service, Orion Books (UK), Enslow Publishers, Thomson Learning, Pearson Education, Guiness World Records, Scholastic, McDougal Littell, Voyageur Press, Nature Company Guides, Trident Press (UK), Grange Books (UK), Heinemann (UK, NZ), Dorling Kindersley (UK), Colin Baxter (UK), Sichtweise Verlag (Germany), Lonely Planet Guides, Stone Creek Publications, Mondadori (Italy), Kodansha (Japan), Portal calendars.

Self-portrait below the Milky Way in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
Photographing salps and zooplankton in the open ocean, photo by Mike Johnson /
Photographing fall colors in the Zion River Narrows, Utah, photo by Garry McCarthy /

Gov / Museums / Aquaria / Scientific, Environmental and Research Organizations:

National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aquarium (Baltimore), Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), John Shedd Aquarium (Chicago), American Museum of Natural History (NY), Monterey Bay Aquarium, Florida Aquarium, Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), Scripps Institute of Oceanography Steven Birch Aquarium, Newport Aquarium (Kentucky), Denver Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Houston Zoo, Artis Zoo (Amsterdam), Oregon Zoo, Calgary Zoo, World Wildlife Fund, Sea Shepard Society, Defenders of Wildlife, International Fund for Animal Welfare, ASPCA, Wildlife Conservation Society, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Point Reyes National Marine Sanctuary, Southern Methodist University, University of Southern California, Catalina Conservation Society, Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, New England Aquarium, Siam Ocean World, Harvard Museum, Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research, Project AWARE.

New Media / Online / Creative:

Walt Disney Imagineering, Epcot Center Florida,

Cover of All Animals Magazine
Cover of Nature Magazine
Cover of Zoology
Cover of Experimental Biology
Cover of Marine Mammal Science
Cover of Pacific Coast Sportfishing
Cover of Morphology
Cover of Ecology Letters
Cover of International Freediving
Mike and Mola Spread
Mola School Spread
Ocean Views Spread
Coast Keeper Spread
Kelp Forest Spread
Blue Whale Aerial Spread
Inhale Spread
National Geographic Blue Whale Spread
Unterwasser Spread
Ocean Realm Rose Atoll Article
Ocean Realm Heat Run Article
Ocean Realm Blue Whale Article
Ocean Realm Guadalupe Fur Seal Article
Telmex Exposition, Mexico City
Bluewater Pictorial
Dolphin Pictorial
Mola Pictorial
Photographing Sandstone at Sunset, Arizona