I have just returned home to Australia after spending the last two months in South Georgia Island, Patagonia and Antarctica. Two months photographing in these incredible wilderness areas was as always a fantastic experience that was wonderful to share with so many like-minded friends and participants. I will have photographs to share and a lot more to say about these expeditions over the coming weeks once I get a chance to catch up on email correspondence, jet lag and family Christmas celebrations. Celebrations have at least started a few days early as I was very excited to learn on docking back in Puerto Williams from Antarctica that I had just won the 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year award in the Wild and Vibrant category. I only learned I was even in the TPOTY Finals a few weeks earlier after I docked back in Ushuaia from my first expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. In fact, it was a mad panic and rush to get the prints made remotely and submitted by the deadline for the final round of judging. I only had a few days between expeditions and had to engage a third party company to make the prints on my behalf. Had I the time I would have much preferred to make the prints myself but given my printer was more than several thousand miles away I had to settle for a high quality lab in the UK. Travel photographer of the Year is one of the few remaining competitions that still judge the printed image and it is a massive thrill and honour to have won the Single Shot Wild and Vibrant Category with one of my Polar Bear photographs from Svalbard in the Arctic.
The judges said “In a time of environmental change the polar bear has become a powerful symbol of man’s impact on our climate. The wildness of this image is evident but the image also conveys vibrancy, both in colour and in the sense of power and energy. The elegance of the setting contrasts with the gruesome natural way of life in this harsh environment of Svalbard while the two splashes of red connect death with survival.”
The winning photograph has subsequently been featured by the UK Daily Mail, National Geographic Itlay, The Guardian, The UK Telegraph, the German news website Spiegel Online and more. Winning Travel Photographer of the Year in the Wild and Vibrant Category has topped off for me what has been a truly incredible year in the competition arena. The standards in these competitions are incredibly high and it an immense honour to win the category.
I am very much looking forward to returning to the pack ice north of Svalbard later this year in search of more Polar Bears on two separate photographic expeditions – Wild Polar Bears and Kingdom of the Ice Bear. Due to a recent cancellation there is now a single place available on the Wild Polar Bears expedition. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity to travel to the edge of the permanent pack ice and photograph Polar Bears just a few hundred miles south of the North Pole then just drop me an email for more information or to register your interest. You can also download a PDF information flyer from www.jholko.com