Recently I attended a lecture with photographer Paul Nicklen at a National Geographic Live event. Paul was an excellent speaker, much better than most business keynote speakers.
I have always admired photographers living in harsh conditions close to wild animals to capture nature’s beauty. Mostly because they don’t seem to care about anything else than the results (their own safety is not as important as the perfect picture) but also because I myself would love to go through the same adventures. For Paul, this relationship with nature has developed into an obsession. In person he is as big as a Canadian hockey player but compared to an Grizzly Bear or an Polar Bear (or me?), he’s really not that big. In other words he has taken a lot of risks, but as Paul said, to work his magic on nature photos for the best magazine requires top notch quality. Or as the editors put it – “We don’t publish excuses”.
Saving Earth by killing time
One strong reason for his obsession is a higher mission to save nature. He explains that it is an honor to be one of the National Geographic photographers. His goal with his photos is to pull the reader into a reality beyond the glossy magazine by showing the true magic of nature. Readers normally just want to kill time but end up engaged in nature and Mother Earth’s challenges. By reading stories connected to his photos, we can learn how life in the arctic is totally dependent on ice. And it’s easy to understand how global warming issues are a real threat to animal survival in times like this.
When given the question from the audience on how to become an great photographer Paul’s answers: “Just enjoy the journey.”
Thanks to Communications Director Merci Olsson at National Geographic Europe for letting me share that journey.