Shooting on a tropical island with giant tortoises. These are the longest-living turtles on the planet, with a lifespan of about 100 to 150 years. Not only the animals here are pre-historic looking, but also the environment is; gorgeous rock formations and white sand beaches. What a dream.

Curieuse Island, Seychelles

We booked an island hopping tour, but instead of leaving with the rest of the many groups to continue to the next island, we asked our taxi-boat driver if we could stay the rest of the day so that we wouldn’t have to rush through. This was the best decision because we literally had the island to ourselves (together with the rangers and turtoises).

Shooting with the giant Algebra tortoise

I completely underestimated the speed of these tortoises so at my first attempt to shoot product photos, one of them was able to grab me a bottle. This incident made me realize I shouldn’t mess around with these ancient reptiles. Of course, I didn’t want to bother the animals or annoy them by holding up a seemingly delicious snack so I changed my approach to shooting the product from a distance with them walking around in the background.

The shot against a giant paw that turned out to be my favorite was made with a turtle that I had been quietly sitting next to for some time while enjoying the view.

When stroking his shell he seemingly enjoyed it and even fell asleep. It was such an amazing experience to feel trusted by this wild giant.

Is it ok to pet a giant turtoise?

That depends. These big boys are really gentle. And most of them are ok with being touched. But just as with humans, not all of them are cuddly. Find one that responds well to your attention.

Petting and scratching to show affection are fine, but knocking on a tortoise’s shell is not ok. There are nerve endings in their shells. So it’s not just a rock-hard defending mechanism.

And although the giant Aldebra’s are really friendly, I wouldn’t dare to be careless while hand-feeding them. Their mouth looks dangerously strong.

Product photography by Zilla
Shot with Sony A7RIV + 90mm 2.8 Macro G OSS