Guiding vs. photography

Little Auks in their colony

All the pictures you’ve seen the past months are made while I was guiding for Oceanwide Expeditions. Guiding these tours allows me to come to these remote places, but photography can never be my main goal during those trips. This is never a problem, as I like to share my passion for the Polar regions with others (as you can see from these blog posts I hope), but sometimes it can be a little frustrating. On land I focus on the group and on what I can show them and on the Polar Bear safety. Only occasionally I take a few pictures, when I see that everybody is enjoying themselves. But often the best moments have passed already at those moments. When we’re making a ships or zodiac cruise or when we are close to some wildlife and everybody is watching, I can often grab a few shots as well.

This picture was taken during my first trip, when I was the only guide, guiding a group of birdwatchers/photographers. Being photographers themselves, this group did understand that I would take a picture now and then, and often there was plenty of time for it. But being the only guide, I also had to pay attention to the surroundings and to the group. On this landing, at a Little Auk colony in North-western Spitsbergen, there was plenty of time. However, this colony is situated in a part of an island that is very hard to oversee… There are boulders everywhere and you never know what might come around the corner… And the group is often spread out a little as everybody is trying to get close to their own Little Auk… This means I have to stand guard and watch for bears (and for people to behave near the colony). But while doing so, I still had some time to try some pictures with my camera. Not the portraits I really wanted, but this group was willing to pose close enough. All in all I cannot complain and do I manage to combine guiding and photography well, at least in my opinion.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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