Paul Nicklen – the one who speaks with polar bears


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Again and again I’ve come across photos of his face when researching and browsing the internet for inspiring photographers. His face red because of the cold, snow crystals on his eyebrows and a cap covering his forehead. I wanted to know more about this guy, this crazy photographer who peeps out of some holes made of ice, half-frozen. And I’m not only fascinated by his great, impressive and overwhelming wildlife photos but also by him – a humorous and courageous character. Since winter is looming closer and closer with its first snowflakes and its bitter cold, I have a contribution for you as an introduction and as an inspiration to go out into the wilds nevertheless – perhaps outweighing the extremes and limits a bit less – and as a reminder not to forget your camera. There’s a lot to discover! But have a look for yourselves…

Right from the beginning Paul Nicklen’s life story is anything but ordinary. When he was four years old, his family packed their suitcases and moved to Southern Canada on Northern Baffin Island near Greenland. They were living in a small Inuit community of about 200 inhabitants. Television, computer, radio and even phones did not exist. So Nicklen went outside, the icy scenery was his playground, the Inuit were his teachers. On his walkabouts he did not only discover the icy spheres for himself, he also developed an obsession for it. His incredible courage to spend days in the wilds in areas that have remained totally wild and uninhabited by humans in order to take pictures of diverse rare animals was certainly a result of this early phase in his life. Or would you venture out into a rainforest to trace an almost extinct particular bear? Would you be bold enough to jump through a hole in the ice into the cold water in order to dive with polar bears or walruses?

 Besides his enormous feeling and empathy for nature and its wild inhabitants Paul Nicken also has the required knowledge about all this – he’s a marine biologist and specialist for ecosystems. He’s worried about the inevitable melting of the polar ice. There are permanently new estimations published in the media and the years when the ice will have melted completely are reduced every time. That’s why it’s a major concern for Paul Ricken to not only see the aesthetic and emotional value in his photos as he primarily wants to create a new awareness for the impressive polar ecosystem. The people should understand and realize that once the polar ice is gone everything else will disappear as well. He addresses his campaigns to the polar bear in particular, an endangered animal he considers to be the most beautiful, most charismatic and most special species.

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