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PAN Interview: Bryan Alexander – Arctic Photo

Name: Bryan Alexander
Company: Arctic Photo
Position: Partner

Describe your picture library in a sentence.
Comprehensive collection of images on the polar regions.
How long have you been running the library?
Since 1972
What were you doing before that?
Photographing cosmetics for Avon, Max Factor, Yardley etc
How many staff at Arctic Photo HQ?
Where are you now?
In my office overlooking Dorset’s flooded Blackmoor Vale
Describe your best photo shoot?
Difficult, there have been many good ones, but a 7 month assignment in Greenland for Time-Life was a career changer.
Your most dangerous?
Photographing Inuit hunting walrus in the winter in North Greenland and ending up spending 5 days on an ice floe drifting between Greenland and Canada before being rescued by helicopter.
Coldest moment?
Falling through thin sea ice in March at -30 C
What are your top 3 tips for shooting at sub zero temperatures.
1) Keep your fingers warm or you won’t be able to push the ‘button’ when you want to take a photo. 2) Take plenty of batteries. 3) Avoid your breath freezing on the viewfinder or lens.
What camera system do you prefer on location?
Do you FTP your images from location to the library?
We can now do this, but in the Arctic I am seldom in places with a good enough internet connection.
Do you represent other photographers/collections?
What content are Arctic Photo looking for at the moment?
The definitive global warming photo.
What was your best selling image in November?
A scenic icescape sold for advertising.
What has been the major factor for maintaining picture sales at Arctic Photo?
The depth of our collection and a good relationship with our clients.
What’s good about the new Arctic Photo website?
Downloads for clients and the ability to post news and upload images while on location.
Which websites do you visit daily other than
BBC & RIA Novosti News sites, and inevitably, satellite sea ice charts.
What are you doing when you are not shooting stock?
Editing, post processing and writing. Also, setting up the next Arctic trip which can take a lot of time.
Cinema or pub?
I would rather go fishing.
Ideal Sunday Afternoon?
I am self-employed, is Sunday afternoon any different to Monday morning?
Ideal assignment.
An assignment (and a time machine) that would take me back to Greenland in the 1950s with my digital cameras.
Lastly what advice would you give to any new picture library.
Wait until the picture ‘supermarkets’ have ceased trading or hell freezes over!
About Arctic Photo:
ArcticPhoto has a unique collection of pictures of Polar Regions. We make frequent visits to Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Arctic Scandinavia and Antarctica. Now you have the opportunity to search these images online on our website, but very unusual requests may be amongst the images that remain unscanned. Give us a call or e-mail to check.
Bryan and Cherry Alexander started travelling to the Arctic in 1971. Their pictures are a constantly expanding record of these vast areas and the changes that have happened there in the intervening years. The main focus of the collection is the Indigenous People of the North. The way they live, their land and the wildlife they share it with. Since 1992 Bryan has returned several times each year to northern Siberia to document the way of life of many of the reindeer herding groups who continue to follow a traditional life in the forests and tundra. Working at temperatures below -50C is a challenge and sometimes risky, but he keeps returning and taking extraordinary pictures, like the Asparatus clouds he witnessed over Qaanaaq in October 2008 which was published in National Geographic’s Visions of Earth in August 2009.