Adam Deer: Off the Beaten Path

Churchill, Canada

Storyteller: Adam Deer, USA

Three polar bears

What were the reasons for your travel?

I took the trip for so many reasons! The the past few years I've really gotten into off-the-beaten-path travel to see and experience so many different parts of the world that's outside of the everyday. Cities and resorts are all fantastic, but to really travel I've found I need to get away from all that. And to see polar bears in the wild is not only about doing that but also to see an amazing animal out in the wild while I still can. Climate change is a definite driver in choosing Churchill - these animals are in serious trouble and who knows how long I could take this trip. Thankfully, the trip was arranged through World Wildlife Federation and a portion of the trip cost went to helping the bears.

Squinting polar bear

What compelled you to create this photo book?

I love having a beautiful, printed book of my travels! This is the second book I've made with MILK and it's the best souvenir from a trip. It's personal, it's unique, it allows me to diary out my trip and when I have a physical, printed book I actually pick it up and look at it and get to relive it all. All that and I've run out of wall space!

Polar bear in Churchill, Canada

What is your favorite image and why?

My favorite image has to be the spread of the bear coming off the ice and onto the land - it's right at the end of the book. During the trip we saw several bears coming towards us off the ice and onto the land like this. I had a feeling I would love the shot if I could get it with a shallow focus. It was way tougher than I thought - everything was so white it was hard to get the focus just on the bear. But I lucked out with this one to not only nail it but also that this big lumbering bear was looking right up towards camera when I took it - there's no directing wild animals.

Sleeping polar bear

What is your favorite story behind a single shot in the book?

My favorite story behind a photo is of the closeup of the bear sleeping - the photo right before the spread image I talked about. We were out on the back of the rover (which is like a humvee mixed with a school bus and has an open truck bed sort of back) and this amazing bear walks right up to us and was looking at us as I was looking right at it. There's nothing like when a huge wild animal is so close to you and you have a moment with it where you're just experiencing each other. And then, like it was just a big puppy, it sat down and then decided to take a nap. Just right there. I know it can seem mundane but for a wild animal to be so comfortable around you to do that is just unreal. It was amazing in how small and comfortable of a moment it was. And its big furry paw!! I loved being able to capture that.


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