Svalbard, Norway 2017
This was not a normal Thursday morning and the adrenaline was high throughout this brief encounter a day’s sailing south of Longyearbyen in Svalbard. This was a seriously big bear.
As with all head on images of alpha predators like this – three factors are key to making the depiction as visually powerful as the reality. The first is that my angle must be ground up – there is no other way. the second factor is that irrespective of the rush of being so close to the ultimate predator, there can be no margin of error in the focus around his eyes. An inch out either way and the image is toast. Thirdly there must be movement to convey the sense of threat.
So all requirements were accomplished and we imposed ourselves rather than letting the situation dictate. In retrospect, the beauty of this enormous bear was an added bonus – he had just made a kill and had been in the water. This lent some textural beauty to his coat. It all came together in a split second – but that is the essence of photography.
I have looked back at my first efforts with polar bears and compared them to this powerful image. It has been a long journey of disappointment, discovery and then finally delivery. What an adrenaline rush.