It’s not very often that I find myself so engrossed in a coffee table book, but Paul Nicklen’s Polar Obsession is an exception in many ways as well as exceptional.

We’re all familiar with the stunning photographs we’re treated to in National Geographic’s iconic magazine, but often the photographers behind the photos go unheralded. Over the last few years there seems to be an effort to bring them out from behind the lens so we can get to know what motivates them, and hear their stories.  And it turns out that those stories are just as powerful as the photographs they take.

Mother bear and two-year-old cub drift on glacier ice. Hudson Strait, Nunavut, Canada. Photograph by Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen, who grew up on Baffin Island, does an excellent job of storytelling both with his introduction and photographs. Why his choice of titles?

Choosing the title for this book was a difficult task. Why did I decide on Polar Obsession? After all, the word obsession has a negative commutation, suggesting unhealthy excess. Though I considered other possibilities, I kept coming back to obsession because of my passionate preoccupation with both the Arctic and Antarctic. They are two equally amazing paces at opposite ends of the Earth, both rich in wildlife an both characterized by vast icy expanses. — Paul Nicklen

I’ve leafed through his book a number of times now, but I find that any free moment I have I’m drawn back to his powerful imagines; whether it’s snow blown tracks of a Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), or Paul being dwarfed next to a Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx).

If you didn’t get all you where hoping for this holiday, or even if you have, I’d recommend getting this book. I’m sure you’ll find yourself, like me, coming back to the images for a long, long time.

A large bull walrus returns to the shores of Prins Karl Forland after diving and feeding on clams. Svalbard, Norway. Photograph by Paul Nicklen

Paul is currently traveling the country promoting this book and his schedule can be found on his Facebook Page.

Narwhals dive deep under the ice to feed on Arctic cod, then return to the surface to breathe and raise their tusks high in the air. Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, Canada. Photograph by Paul Nicklen
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