Straight from Kennan Ward’s Camera Lens

3 Min Read  /  Culture

Photo: Kennan Ward

Polar_bear_line_up

If you’ve visited the homepage of Patagonia.com recently, or flipped through our Fall 2007 catalog, you’ve no doubt seen this incredible image of polar bears lined up on the ice. We’ve already received a few customer comments asking why we would publish a shot that is digitally enhanced. The answer: we didn’t. The masters will fool you like that and Kennan Ward is certainly one of the masters.

Here’s the explanation/reply from Jane in our photo department:

I am writing regarding your comment that Kennan Ward’s photo is digitally enhanced. The cover photo [of the Fall 2007 catalog] is actually a cropped version of the photo shown full frame on page 50/51. The picture was captured with a camera trap. If you read the caption on page 50/51, it explains the phenomena of the bears lining up on the beach. Kennan sent me the next frame of the series to check out and the bear is pressing his nose right into the camera lens. Kennan won the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, in 2000, with this photo of the polar bear line-up. He has dedicated his life to documenting wildlife as well as lobbying Congress and lawmakers about the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I appreciate your curiosity about this photo, as I actually had the same response and was amazed to find out the whole situation was real.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Hit the jump to get more background on the photo directly from Kennan Ward, including a look at the nose-in-the-lens photo Jane mentions above. It was graciously donated by Kennan to The Cleanest Line for this post…

From Kennan:

Thank you for taking the time to help people understand the story behind the photo.

As you know, I have staked my career on truth in photography and I believe in the true story!

I love this photo I call “Polar Bear Line-Up” as it is a trademark image! Meaning, from concept to clicking the photo, it was a complete risk. Not in terms of endangerment but artistically risky as I shot by remote control, not looking through the viewfinder.

I loved how the polar bears would play-wrestle and pace themselves apart as they rested. As you might imagine, it is hard to defend yourself right after waking up from a sound sleep. Thus the bears give a little space to wake prior to another play session.

I wanted to capture this but had to be at an odd angle and close to the animals. I chose a remote so as not to harm or affect the animals, also to keep me safe.

Here is what happened next!

Polar_bear_nose

No animal was hurt except nose mucus on the lens.

I believe in protecting animals. Please, there is nothing between the lines here.

Enjoy, PEACE, Kennan Ward

I don’t know about you but when I look at the bear’s face in the line-up photo I get profoundly sad. Let’s join Kennan in doing all we can to finally put an end to the fight over the Arctic Refuge. We must urge Congress to give the coastal plain Wilderness designation as soon as possible. Please visit our Current Campaign page to find out how to help.

Special thanks to Kennan and Karen Ward for sharing these photos with us. For more information or to purchase their stunning photographs — they offer bookmarks, books & DVDs, calendars & organizers, notecards, postcards, posters, and prints — please visit www.kennanward.com.

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