By Jack Williams
This daring photographer has decided to take the SNAP element of photography rather literally – by getting up close and person with saltwater crocodiles.
Shot from within a few feet of the creatures, Tanya Houppermans’ stunning portrait shots show off the amazingly sharp gnashers on the American saltwater crocodiles, shot off the coast of in Cuba.
Tanya’s varied shots include head-on portraits of crocs, side-on takes with half the frame submerged in water – and even stunning sunsets glistening above the creatures.
Tanya, 45, from Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA, said: “I think crocodiles are inherently fascinating.
“They have been around in one form or another for 200 million years, and seeing them is almost like looking back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
“And let’s face it, those teeth are very impressive!
“For a wildlife photographer, subjects don’t get much better than this – saltwater crocodiles in the gorgeous mangroves of Cuba.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity to see how I could portray these animals through my camera.”
Tanya captured the animals over three separate days in January after discovering the crocs in the Garden of Queens – an archipelago about 60 miles off the southeast coast of Cuba.
The area has been a protected marine reserve since 1996, with the crocs living in its mangroves.
The photographer said that she was not overly nervous when taking the shots, as she always aims to be respectful to animals and their natural surroundings.
The most difficult images to capture, Tanya said, where the split shots that also included a stunning sunsets above the surface.
By looking at her images, Tanya hopes the public learns a little about American saltwater crocodiles – which, despite their sharp teeth, are generally not a threat to humans.
The crocs tend to feed off a diet of fish, crabs, snakes and small mammals, with males growing up to 14 feet and females usually ranging from eight to 12 feet.
Tanya said: “My first thought was, ‘Wow! This animal is more beautiful than I ever imagined!’
“I saw the water glistening on the intricate patterns and scales of the crocodile’s skin, and I knew I wanted to try portray their beauty as best I could.
“Yes, these are apex predators that people tend to fear.
“But crocodiles are also critical parts of the marine ecosystem that need our protection.
“They are threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, and are hunted in many parts of the world.
“I hope that through my images people will see the crocodiles in a way they never have before, and will hopefully care more about these animals and their environment, which is the goal of my photography in general.”