Doug Allan is one of the world’s best known and respected wildlife and documentary cameramen, who films both above and underwater.
He’s filmed whales in almost all the seas of the world and has twice won the underwater category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He has worked on a number of high profile award winning films and series for the major TV networks worldwide. In contributing to The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet and Frozen Planet, he has made over 70 filming trips, including orcas attacking gray whales off California, polar bears trying to capture belugas in a frozen hole in Arctic Canada, and killer whales washing seals off ice floes in Antarctica – all on-screen firsts.
How often do you travel?
That depends on who or what I’m filming. Some years I was away from the UK 230 days of the year, on maybe 10 shoots to different locations. It’s fewer now, though I still enjoy the buzz of new places and faces.
What country surprised you?
I was in Bhutan 20 years ago. We trekked through their Himalayas for three weeks making a film. It was my first chance to really experience a Buddhist country, and the contrast between the toughness of the environment and the placid friendliness of that people’s character will always stay with me.
What is your most amusing travel story?
I thought I was locked in a toilet once at an airport. It sounded like a final call for my flight but I just couldn’t get the door opened back on to the concourse. Yelling loudly for help, I was kicking like hell at the door. Heard voices behind me, turned and realised it was the wrong door. I was trying to make my exit through their broom cupboard.
Where is next on your travel ‘bucket list’?
I want to rediscover the wilder parts of the UK and Ireland.
Do you consider your carbon footprint when you travel?
I try to. But it’s hard isn’t it when most journeys start with a flight. Ecologically sensitive logistics at my destination are a sign of thoughtful planning.
What is the one essential you travel with?
I can’t be without books. Rarely fiction, sometimes about my destination, its geography and politics, often an eclectic collection covering science topics.
What is your best piece of travel advice?
Travel as slowly as you can, engage with the local people.
Who has inspired you to do what you do?
The books of Jacques Cousteau set me off diving, a chance meeting with David Attenborough in 1981, while I was working in the Antarctic, took me into filming.
Indonesia Cruise – Whale Sharks
Join Doug Allan to swim with, film and photograph Whale Sharks in Indonesia in November 2018: