Photographer Seeks Out Polar Bear in Extreme Conditions

The windswept, ethereal landscape of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is home to a collection of cold weather creatures that live out an arduous existence along its icy breast – with the polar bear the most iconic of them all. In this short video from National Geographic, we see one photographer journey out into the Arctic tundra in search of the mythical, wing-white predators.

Titled ‘Ghosts of the Arctic’, self-proclaimed “polar photographer” Joshua Holko sets out into the depths of Arctic snow and ice to capture the elusive polar bear, as numbers decline across the globe. Created in conjunction with cinematographers Abraham Joffe and Dom West of Untitled Film Works, the video is an official selection of the National Geographic Short Film Showcase.

The National Geographic Short Film Showcase shines a light on “exceptional short videos” from filmmakers across the world, specially selected by Nat Geo’s very own editors. Nat Geo look for videos that exemplify their commitment to “the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world” – an aim that this Arctic short certainly achieves.

Streaking over the frozen terrain on snowmobiles, and trekking on foot through feet of snow with camera clutched in hand, Holko explores far and wide to find the fearsome predator “on their terms, in their territory”. Battling subzero temperatures and frostbite, the crew delve lens first into the Arctic wilds for up to 16 hours a day.

Following a lengthy search, they come across a clue: fresh bear tracks and blood from a failed seal hunt. Scouring the nearby area, Holko finally spies a mother and cub frolicking on the sea ice.

Given a clear view, Holko is able to aim his camera and give us an intimate insight into their fascinating lives, stating “these are the moments I live for”.

Be sure to have a look at Holko’s Instagram for more of his adventures. For a different side to the polar bear, watch this video of them helping out a BBC camera crew in desperate need!


Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.