Up close with animals living at Earth's poles (Photos)

 Paul Souders is an amazing wildlife photographer who has traveled the globe photographing species in their native habitats. Some of his most compelling work comes from the earth's extreme environments, the poles, from the icebergs of the Arctic to the shores of Antarctica. He has captured incredible photos of the animals that call these frozen places home.

When asked what drives him to photograph wildlife, Souders said, "I never set out to be a nature photographer. I began my photography education and career with dreams of journalistic glory. Along the way, I took a staff job at the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. I'd grown up on the east coast, and it was a huge change for me. There were moose in my back yard, bald eagles on my drive to work. I spent a lot less time listening to the police scanner and more time hiking in the mountains that ring the city, and I fell in love with recording the wonder that I found there. I left my staff job after five years, and have focussed most of my time and effort over the last 15 years to photographing the world's remaining wilderness areas."

The tools of his trade range from the standard camera on a tripod to cameras on poles, cameras fired with remote triggers, and even cameras on kites. He will try anything to get the right angle for a great shot. He loves to catch unique angles that tell a story, they are the payoff for his studies and experimentation with his gear. Being close to dangerous wildlife is part of a day's work for him although he tries to give his subjects the space they need to go about their business.

Watching the paths of glaciers is a fascination of his since he moved to Alaska early in his career 26 years ago. "I covered more than 11,000 miles through Canada and Alaska in less than three weeks, and my little Honda two-seater was never the same. Neither was I, for that matter. Within a couple years I uprooted my city life and flagging career prospects and moved to Alaska. Even after I moved to Seattle to be closer to clients and easier air connections, I travel back to Alaska every year."

Souders goes on to say, "I've photographed [Alaska's] tidewater and alpine glaciers since 1989, and have seen amazing changes. I was crazy for glaciers when I moved there. For a kid from Pennsylvania farm country, it was an entirely new world, these crazy, shifting rivers of ice. And yet they're vanishing before our eyes. I hadn't even unpacked my moving boxes when I drove 60 miles south to Portage Glacier in the dead of winter and hiked three miles across the frozen lake to see the glacier's face. That glacier has receded miles, out of the lake and leaving only a small vestige clinging to the mountain slopes."

Polar bears have been a focus of Souder's arctic work, and he has photographed them throughout Canada and Svalbard. The use of remote cameras is one way to keep a safe distance from these curious and deadly bears while getting up-close images. Of polar bears he says, "There's something magical about spending time with the biggest, toughest predators around. Not in a macho, butt-kicking way, though. I find it humbling, and an incredible honor to be in the presence of these animals. To be out in the wilderness on my own, face the technical and physical challenges of finding them in their own environment, and trying to photograph and capture their essence."

When Souders was asked what he wanted people to come away with after viewing his photography he said, "I would love for people to understand and appreciate that we live in a magical world; that it's possible to see and experience the natural world in our lives. And all the wilderness and wildlife that we all grew up with on tv? It's out there in the real world, and it's so very, very cool to see it in person, with your own eyes."

Souders recently returned from a 5-week trip to Antarctica with a small group of conservation and wildlife photographers. Enjoy some of his amazing work from that trip below.

Responses to "Paul Souders - Wildllife photographer of the North and South poles"

  1. Wonderful Work

  2. Unknown says:

    <3 those penguins!

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    Just wonderful!

  5. Anonymous says:

    WOW!!!! I love my Earth and all those wonderful beings.

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