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 33 years my natural history photography has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, BBC Wildlife, Vanity Fair, Sunset, People, National Wildlife, Islands, Ocean Realm, Ranger Rick, Reader’s Digest, Welt der Wunder, Science, Nature, The New York Times, diving and ocean-oriented magazines, various advertising and publicity campaigns, many aquaria and museums around the world, and a number of United States governmental agencies.  My photography has received awards in past Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature’s Best, Ocean Views and National Wildlife Federation competitions. Thank you for your interest in my photography!  Cheers, Phillip Colla

With Steller Sea Lions, British Columbia. Photo by Mike Perdue

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. I live near San Diego, California with my wife Tracy, spending as much time as possible outdoors.

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

Periodicals / News / Wire:

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

Advertising / PR / Marketing:

Pacific Life, Smith Barney, Patagonia Inc.

Books / Calendars:

BBC Books, World Books Publishing, National Geographic Society books and calendars, 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 / Earthwindow.com
Photographing fall colors in the Zion River Narrows, Utah, photo by Garry McCarthy / McCarthyPhotos.com

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, marebus / World Ocean Review.

New Media / Online / Creative:

Walt Disney Imagineering, Epcot Center Florida, SurfLine.com, Bluewhalesfilm.com / SK Films

Crater Lake self portrait at sunrise, Crater Lake National Park

Cover of All Animals Magazine
Cover of Nature Magazine
Cover of Zoology
Cover of National Geographic France calendar
National Geographic National Park Calendar, Grand Tetons
National Geographic National Park Calendar, Death Valley
World Wildlife Fund Eagles 2022 calendar
World Wildlife Fund Wolves 2022 calendar
World Wildlife Fund Eagles 2022 calendar
Cover of The Coronado Islands book
Nature Conservancy Cover
Isla Guadalupe book cover
WWF Calendar, blue whale
WWF Calendar, humpback whale
Welt Der Wunder, Clipperton Island aerial
Wildcoast Cover, gray whales
Sportfishing, Coronado Bridge
Ranger Rick Jr Cover, penguin
Blue Whale Film / SK Films
Blue Whale Film / SK Films
Blue Whale Film / SK Films

Giant kelp forest, Catalina Island, California, selfie

Greeting the dawn, Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, selfie

North Coyote Buttes, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, selfie

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, selfie

Sunset at North Window, Arches National Park, Utah, selfie

Morning at Vogelsang Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, selfie

Tabletop Reef, Solana Beach, California

Lake Tahoe, Nevada, selfie

Milky Way over Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

With Tracy, Darwin Island, Galapagos, selfie

With Steller sea lions, Hornby Island, British Columbia, selfie

Milky Way over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, California, selfie

Shadow at dawn, Valley of Fire, Nevada, selfie

Double selfie, Corona Arch, Utah

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah, selfie

Tracy greets the dawn, Arches National Park, Utah

Utah Badlands dawn, selfie

World Ocean Review 2021: Living with the Oceans, interior images.

Welt Der Wunder, blue whale aerial
Welt Der Wunder, blue whale
Surfers Journal, Cabo aerial
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
Shadowy self portrait, The Great Wall, Sunset, Page, Arizona

Sierra Nevada morning paddle with best friend