Campbell River photographer Ryan Miller’s “office” usually consists of being on the water and capturing the unique world under the sea.
On Feb. 7, 2019, he just happened to be in the “right place at the right time” when he snapped a photo of a whale breaching near Qualicum Bay. He recently posted the picture on social media and is receiving high praise for it, with more than 1,600 likes on Facebook.
“I always have my camera with me,” he tells Glacier Media.
Miller recalls diving that day with a non-profit organization called Sea Legacy just off Hornby Island. The 40-year-old shot more than 2,000 images during the encounter with wildlife.
“We had these sea lions come and actually hide underneath the boat that we were on,” he says.
A pod of orcas then started feeding on the sea lions, right beside his group as they sat and turned off their boat.
“Once [whales] usually finish eating they get happy, so that’s typically when you’ll see them breach and sky hop and tail flop,” he explains. “They were probably doing that for at least 20 minutes.”
His image displays a breathtaking moment where a killer whale surfaces out of the water with its white belly showing. Two other whales with their fins in the air can be seen on either side.
“I got lucky with this one,” Miller says, adding his Facebook post has been getting shared “all over the place.”
“It’s pretty awesome,” he says.
Miller moved to B.C. from a small town in Manitoba more than 20 years ago to take a commercial diving program. Since then, he and his family call Campbell River home. He works as a commercial diver, with photography being a passion hobby.
Specializing in underwater photography, Miller’s photographs give a glimpse into a world people rarely get to experience.
“I get to spend a lot of time on the water, and I get to see a lot of amazing places and get to see a lot of wildlife,” he says.
A photograph he took of a sea lion playing with a starfish also drew lots of positive attention.
“He’d pick it up from the bottom and swim to the surface and let it go and try to catch the starfish before it hit the bottom and it was kind of a game,” he recalls. In 2020, the photo was named a winner in the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Reflections of Nature contest.
For him, spending quiet moments with animals is the best part of photography.
“When you’re by yourself photographing them, it’s an incredible feeling, especially when they kind of accept you and aren’t scared of you,” says Miller. “There’s not a much better feeling.”
Miller’s prints are for sale. You can reach him through his Instagram account.