Paul Nicklen

Climate Change, Journalism, Overcoming Adversity

Travels from British Columbia, Canada

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Paul Nicklen Profile

Growing up as one of the few non-Inuit residents of a settlement on Baffin Island, Canada, Paul Nicklen has been intimately involved with the natural world since his childhood. This experience, coupled with his first career as a biologist in the Northwest Territories, uniquely equipped him for his work as a photojournalist in some of the world’s most difficult terrains.

Nicklen’s highly praised work for National Geographic presents vivid and intimate portraits of one of the planet’s harshest regions and its wildlife, focusing especially on the effect which climate change is bringing to the polar regions.

Nicklen’s astonishing photographs and amazing stories – of working 100 feet below the ice in 29° water, diving with leopard seals, and many more – bring the dangers of climate change to life in a way that no academic thesis can and inspire others to care as much about this astonishing environment as he does.

The recipient of more than twenty international awards, including Nature: First Prize Story from World Press Photo, Nicklen has had more than twenty stories published in National Geographic as well as in many other publications around the world. His book Bear: Spirit of the Wild tells an evocative tale of the bears of North America, and his much-praised debut work Polar Obsession is being reprinted in 2015.

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    Paul Nicklen grew up one of only a few non-Inuit in an Inuit settlement on Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada — a childhood that taught him the patience, stamina and respect for nature required for his beat in the frigid climes of Earth’s polar regions. Best known for his vivid and intimate wildlife photos for National Geographic, Nicklen started out a biologist in the Northwest Territories, gathering data on such species as lynx, grizzlies, and polar bears. Today he bridges the gap between scientific research and the public, showing how fragile and fast-changing habitats are profoundly affecting wildlife.

    During the course of his workday Nicklen regularly comes face-to-face with fantastic creatures: narwhals, Arctic foxes, elephant seals, and more. His most amazing experience? An underwater encounter with a leopard seal who for four days tried to feed him penguins through the “mouth” of his lens.

    Diving among leopard seals in Antarctica, hanging from his ultralight plane, and working a hundred feet below the ice in 29-degree water, Nicklen tells the story of a place most of us can scarcely imagine. In doing so, he has successfully put a face on climate change—and perhaps makes the strongest argument for our need to care and change.

    Nicklen has published ten stories for National Geographic, the most recent from South Georgia, Antarctica (December 2009). His latest book, Polar Obsession, received rave reviews and is already in its third printing. He has received more than twenty international awards, including this year’s Nature: First Prize Story 2010 award from World Press Photo.

Paul Nicklen Speaking Videos

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Paul Nicklen's Speech Descriptions

Paul Nicklen brings his passion for the beauty of the polar regions to his keynote speeches, vividly bringing areas many of us will never experience to life. He brings the reality of global warming home to his audience in the most vivid way imaginable.

Nicklen undergoes extraordinary dangers and hardships to capture his astonishing images, and his inspiring tales of his achievements, told with self-deprecating humor, are not to be missed.

All Nicklen’s speeches are accompanied by shows of his breathtaking photographs.

Success Through Failure
Paul Nicklen has earned his status in the photography world. With 14 awards from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, five awards from World Press Photo Awards, and being named one of the 40 most influential photographers in the world, he has gotten where he is through determination, devotion to his subjects, a thorough knowledge of the ecosystems and inhabitants of polar regions — and of course, an incredible skill with the camera. However, Nicklen credits his failures as one of the key reasons for his success.

Through his magnificent photos and storytelling, Nicklen relates his own personal work experiences to his audiences and their everyday lives. He discusses how in his profession he fails about 98 percent of the time, and it’s all about picking himself up and knowing that with sheer determination and passion, he will succeed. His failures are what reminds him that he is the only chance to connecting the world with these life-changing visuals and relaying important messages about our planet and its ecosystems. This captivating speech is both motivating and passionate and will leave audiences with a new outlook on their everyday lives and professions.

Polar Obsession
Acting as a personal guide, Nicklen takes audiences to the vast polar regions of our planet. His unique and personal perspective on some of Earth’s most beautiful and remote environments make him an inspiring advocate for the environment. With his trademark humor, passion, and optimism, Nicklen shares the stories of his work which captures life in the fragile, frozen corners of the planet.

Into the Icy Realms
In his signature presentation, Nicklen shares his most unforgettable experiences while photographing on assignment for National Geographic magazine. His humorous perspective on the unique challenges he faces gives great insight into what it takes to deliver world-class images. From narwhals, walruses, and bowhead whales in the Arctic to leopard seals and emperor penguins in the Antarctic, Nicklen’s emotional portrayal of his most humbling and electrifying encounters leaves audiences longing for their very own plunge into the icy seas.

From Pole to Pole
Join Paul Nicklen on a photographic journey from the far reaches of the Arctic to the icy waters of Antarctica and everything in between. This presentation includes work created while on assignment for National Geographic magazine, deep into the underwater Mayan gravesites in the Yucatán Peninsula and into the realm of the majestic sailfish in the Mexican Caribbean. This is an unforgettable and colorful presentation brought to life with multimedia and evocative time-lapse photography.

Spirit of the Wild
In the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia’s mid-central coast, a rare black bear with a recessive gene is blessed with snow-white fur. 1 in 5 bears in the region feature this ethereal quality, and they make for a stunning spectacle contrasted against the emerald and blue hues of the coastal rainforest. Take a journey to meet the elusive spirit bears of British Columbia.

Dive Beneath the Thin Blue Line
Go beneath the water’s surface with Nicklen—the thin, blue line separates what we know and understand about our planet’s oceans, from what we cannot see: the vast unknown depths of our planet’s marine basins and the mysteries of life teeming below. Above the horizon, we see beautiful beaches, rugged shorelines, and seemingly endless expanses of blue. To the casual observer, it might appear that all is well; that life in the ocean is flourishing. Beneath the waves, however, lies a growing storm of concern and trouble.

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Books by Paul Nicklen:

Polar Obsession

The Arctic is in Paul Nicklen’s blood. Born and raised on Baffin Island, Nunavut, he grew up in one of the only non-Inuit families in a tiny native settlement amid the ice fields, floes, and frigid seas of Northern Canada. At an age when most children are playing hide-and-seek, he was learning life-and-death lessons of survival: how to read the weather, find shelter in a frozen snowscape, or live off the land as his Inuit neighbors had done for centuries.

Today Nicklen is a naturalist and wildlife photographer uniquely qualified to portray the impact of climate change on the polar regions and their inhabitants, human and animal alike. In a wise and wonderful intertwining of art and science, his bold expeditions plunge him into freezing seas to capture unprecedented, up-close documentation of the lives of leopard seals, whales, walruses, polar bears, bearded seals, and narwhals. Bathed in polar light, his images, inspiring and amazing, break new ground in photography and provide a vivid, timely portrait of two extraordinary, endangered ecosystems.

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