Photography can be an extremely powerful artform, particularly when the subject is nature, as it allows the public to see the true beauty in landscapes, flora, and animals they may have previously taken for granted.
This is why Paul Nicklen has been able to capture people’s interest like no other photographer, as he enables the public to get up close to some of the harshest conditions on the planet, and the most endangered or feared animals.
The Canadian photographer has been working on his craft for more than 20 years, but what makes him stand out from other artists is that he is also a marine biologist and climate change campaigner.
As well as being an assignment photographer for National Geographic Magazine, he is the co-founder of a non-profit organisation.
SeaLegacy is aimed at providing content, such as Nicklen’s photos and videos, of the ocean that will encourage more people to help the environment.
It is certainly hard to deny the beauty of the planet after looking at Nicklen’s captivating photos, from shots of leaping penguins to close-up frames of a gorilla’s face; aerial views of melting sea ice to fjord photos captured through glaciers and underwater photos in Mexico’s sinkholes.
Nicklen stands out from other nature photographers, as he is able to create “an emotional connection with wild subjects in extreme conditions”.
This has led him to some phenomenal places around the world, and to receive numerous awards, accolades and achievements over the years.
He has been given more than 30 photography awards for his impressive work, including the much-coveted BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2012, the World Press Photo Award numerous times, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Victoria.
In addition to this, he has an honorary PHD for his involvement in fighting against climate change, he is a National Geographic Fellow, has written several books, and is well-known for his informative, interesting and educational TED talks.
His work in all areas is so impressive, he has amassed 7.4 million followers on Instagram, most of whom click on his account to see more of his phenomenal work and his take on the natural world.
Some of his biggest photography fans also sign up to his masterclasses, which offer insight on how he captures his photos. These include professional guidance on his 20-60-20 rule, goal setting, composition, and photo sketching.
It goes without saying that Nicklen must also be incredibly fearless to capture some of the images he gets, as he admits he’s nearly died on a few occasions.
This includes the time he tried to film breeding elephant seals underwater in 2008. He wanted to be the first person to do this, so took great risks when shooting the 20-feet-long male elephant seals, which can weigh up to 71 stone.
The Sony Artisan of Imagery explained one spent a few minutes trying to attack him while he was filming in Antarctica. He was saved only by his assistant distracting the creature and waving him off.
Nonchalant about his experience, he added: “For the most part, the animals I’ve photographed have been kind and peaceful when I’ve respected their space.”
This represents a humility and fearlessness not many of us would possess, especially considering his previous subjects have included polar bears, killer whales, and crocodiles.
The fact the creatures and conditions he has shot are so threatening makes his photographs even more incredible and sought-after. So, if you have some of Nicklens’ work, it is worth getting bespoke framing, so you can give the images pride of place in your home.