arctic

2014 A Year in Review by Katherine Yaksich

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2014 | A Year in Review

Greetings from California! When I look back at 2014, I can’t help but be surprised by how quickly the year flew by. It’s quite startling actually. I’ve decided that moving forward I need to reevaluate and work on my relationship with time. I need to savor the adventures a bit more and stop more frequently to soak up, enjoy, and live in the moment.

I’m also incredibly grateful for all of the beautiful moments I experienced and the people I shared them with. One thing I’m proud of is how much time I was able to spend with my friends that live on the west coast. I took 7 trips out west to CA this year, mostly for work. But more than ever, I realize that cultivating friendships and community takes a lot of work and energy, but is also meaningful, necessary, rewarding, and quite possibly the most important aspect of life. I want to be intentional about cultivating relationships and one way I will do this is by designing adventures specifically for that purpose. This past year I finally summited Half Dome with my friend Matt and in 2015, I will head to South Africa, Tanzania, and Zanzibar with my friend Drew to conquer Kilimanjaro and hopefully get some great views of “big cats playing ball”. 

One of my major highlights of 2014 was the time I spent as the Photographer in Residence onboard the M/S Expedition ship in the Arctic, 600 - 800 miles from the North Pole. It was truly a transformative experience spent in the wild, beautiful, and fragile polar environment, and made me realize firsthand the importance of safeguarding the future of our planet. I’m so excited to embark in a few weeks on a 2 month adventure and photo residency back onboard the M/S Expedition down in Antarctica, which has been on my bucket list ever since I was in 4th grade and is also my final continent to explore. It will definitely be a meaningful experience that will undoubtedly shape my life and future work.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure and for allowing me to share some of my favorite moments. I wish you a beautiful, adventurous, and transformative 2015! 

The photos above are my top 10 favorite images of 2014 with captions below.

All My Best, 
Reuben

1. Polar Bears in the Arctic, photographed about 100 meters away from a zodiac and one of the most challenging images I’ve ever captured (Svalbard, Norway)

2. Dr. Tom Smith, rifle master and naturalist, once saved a polar bear’s life by punching it in the face (Svalbard, Norway)

3. A mountain peak emerges in Inglefieldbreen, Svalbard, less than 800 miles from the North Pole

4. NYC Ballet, Jen Trahan for Reuben Hernandez Studios, NYC

5. Yosemite’s Half Dome summit with Matthew Morgan (California)

6. Blood Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse, photographed from Southern California

7. Christopher “Push” Costa at PMT Dance Studio, NYC

8. Spiderman Parkour Self Portrait, Brooklyn, NY

9. JR’s Inside Out Project at Millions March NYC 

10. 9/11/2014, NYC

by Katherine Yaksich

“Hello my name is Siobhan and I reside in Shanghai, China. I have also lived with a Masai tribe on the outskirts of Amboseli NP, Kenya. Despite the language barrier, what really touched me was how humble and kind the Masai are, and it made me realise that travelling isn’t just about scenery and wildlife, but also about understanding the diversity of human culture on our wonderful planet.”

“Hello my name is Siobhan and I reside in Shanghai, China. I have also lived with a Masai tribe on the outskirts of Amboseli NP, Kenya. Despite the language barrier, what really touched me was how humble and kind the Masai are, and it made me realise that travelling isn’t just about scenery and wildlife, but also about understanding the diversity of human culture on our wonderful planet.”

by Katherine Yaksich

Some of my polar essentials after returning to the ship from an Arctic expedition. I’m prepping to embark next month on a 2 month adventure and photo residency in Antarctica, which is my final continent to explore #thisarcticlife #antarcticaordie (at Somewhere Near the North Pole)

Some of my polar essentials after returning to the ship from an Arctic expedition. I’m prepping to embark next month on a 2 month adventure and photo residency in Antarctica, which is my final continent to explore #thisarcticlife #antarcticaordie (at Somewhere Near the North Pole)

by Katherine Yaksich

5 of 5 of the #blackandwhitechallenge 
 Nearly 5 years ago, I quit my job and relocated to NY from CA with hopes of becoming a photographer and filmmaker. Back then, the Holy Grail would have been to land an assignment for National Geographic, but I’ve since learned that I don’t necessarily need to shoot for Nat Geo to do meaningful work and tell powerful stories. In fact, one of my favorite photographers told me that he actually turned down his first assignment for Nat Geo. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely sure if I could handle the pressure of such an assignment, and the thought of shooting 40,000 - 60,000 images for a single assignment is a bit overwhelming… 
 This year I had the incredible experience of being a photographer in residence onboard an expedition ship in the Arctic. I absolutely loved it because I got to explore such a beautiful and remote part of our planet doing what I love, and it was a meaningful and transformative experience because it helped me understand our fragile world a bit better and the importance of safeguarding the future of our earth. 
 I’m beyond excited to embark on the ship again in February for a month long residency in Antarctica, especially since Antarctica has been on my bucket list ever since I did a report on it in 4th grade. It is also my last and final continent to visit. 
 What kind of experiences transform and bring meaning to your life? 
 I nominate @andrewshepherd for the black and white challenge. I love working with Andrew not only because he is an overall wonderful human, but because his work is always unexpected, beautiful, and solid. 
 #thisarcticlife #neverstopexploring #notgeo

5 of 5 of the #blackandwhitechallenge

Nearly 5 years ago, I quit my job and relocated to NY from CA with hopes of becoming a photographer and filmmaker. Back then, the Holy Grail would have been to land an assignment for National Geographic, but I’ve since learned that I don’t necessarily need to shoot for Nat Geo to do meaningful work and tell powerful stories. In fact, one of my favorite photographers told me that he actually turned down his first assignment for Nat Geo. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely sure if I could handle the pressure of such an assignment, and the thought of shooting 40,000 - 60,000 images for a single assignment is a bit overwhelming…

This year I had the incredible experience of being a photographer in residence onboard an expedition ship in the Arctic. I absolutely loved it because I got to explore such a beautiful and remote part of our planet doing what I love, and it was a meaningful and transformative experience because it helped me understand our fragile world a bit better and the importance of safeguarding the future of our earth.

I’m beyond excited to embark on the ship again in February for a month long residency in Antarctica, especially since Antarctica has been on my bucket list ever since I did a report on it in 4th grade. It is also my last and final continent to visit.

What kind of experiences transform and bring meaning to your life?

I nominate @andrewshepherd for the black and white challenge. I love working with Andrew not only because he is an overall wonderful human, but because his work is always unexpected, beautiful, and solid.

#thisarcticlife #neverstopexploring #notgeo

by Katherine Yaksich

3 of 5 of the #blackandwhitechallenge 
 This is a portrait I took of Neil onboard our expedition ship in the Arctic this past summer. I looked out the window and saw Neil smoking a pipe by himself, out in the cold, on the port side of the ship. I immediately knew I had to get a picture of him, so I ran outside and captured one of my favorite images from my residency. In the Arctic, often times the most memorable moments occur when you least expect it. 
 I nominate @leifography, a fellow New Yorker who I connected with onboard our ship in the Arctic 
 #thisarcticlife

3 of 5 of the #blackandwhitechallenge

This is a portrait I took of Neil onboard our expedition ship in the Arctic this past summer. I looked out the window and saw Neil smoking a pipe by himself, out in the cold, on the port side of the ship. I immediately knew I had to get a picture of him, so I ran outside and captured one of my favorite images from my residency. In the Arctic, often times the most memorable moments occur when you least expect it.

I nominate @leifography, a fellow New Yorker who I connected with onboard our ship in the Arctic

#thisarcticlife

by Katherine Yaksich

This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to observe and photograph polar bears in the Arctic for my first time. The mother and cub pictured here was actually my first polar bear sighting, and I remember this moment quite vividly and will probably never forget it. Seeing polar bears in the wild transformed me, and made me truly realize how fragile our environment is. 
 I want to share some text that was posted on the @natgeo Instagram feed yesterday: 
 “Polar bears have come to represent the Arctic ecosystem and we look to them as an indicator of the health of the polar region they roam. Due to human-caused climate change, the Arctic is currently experiencing the warmest air temperatures in four centuries, and sea ice losses in the summer of 2012 broke all previous records. Polar bears are feeling the pressure; their populations are declining in Churchill, Manitoba in direct correlation with the loss of sea ice. The sea ice freezes later each fall and melts earlier each spring which means less time for hunting on sea ice. We must act today to change our carbon-emitting habits. It is estimated that if current climate trends are correct, two-thirds of the polar bear population could disappear by 2050. All the creatures from the top of the food chain to the bottom who are specially adapted to life on ice depend on humans to act now to lessen their carbon emissions that have caused these changes. What daily decisions are you making to reduce your carbon footprint?” 
 #thisarcticlife #saveourseaice 

This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to observe and photograph polar bears in the Arctic for my first time. The mother and cub pictured here was actually my first polar bear sighting, and I remember this moment quite vividly and will probably never forget it. Seeing polar bears in the wild transformed me, and made me truly realize how fragile our environment is.

I want to share some text that was posted on the @natgeo Instagram feed yesterday:

“Polar bears have come to represent the Arctic ecosystem and we look to them as an indicator of the health of the polar region they roam. Due to human-caused climate change, the Arctic is currently experiencing the warmest air temperatures in four centuries, and sea ice losses in the summer of 2012 broke all previous records. Polar bears are feeling the pressure; their populations are declining in Churchill, Manitoba in direct correlation with the loss of sea ice. The sea ice freezes later each fall and melts earlier each spring which means less time for hunting on sea ice. We must act today to change our carbon-emitting habits. It is estimated that if current climate trends are correct, two-thirds of the polar bear population could disappear by 2050. All the creatures from the top of the food chain to the bottom who are specially adapted to life on ice depend on humans to act now to lessen their carbon emissions that have caused these changes. What daily decisions are you making to reduce your carbon footprint?”

#thisarcticlife #saveourseaice 

by Katherine Yaksich

Here is an unpublished photo of Dr. Tom Smith, rifle master, naturalist, and what one of my friends calls “the Chuck Norris of the Arctic”, scouting the land for polar bears ensuring that it’s safe for us to land. I could tell stories all day about Tom, but my favorite story to tell is when he saved a polar bear’s life by punching it in the face.  

 Join me this Thursday at 8 pm at Ira Lippke Studios in Chelsea, as I share more images and stories from my Arctic experience. I hope to see you there and share a glass of beer or wine with you! 

 #thisarcticlife #svalbard #arctic #polarbears #makeportraits #storyportrait

Here is an unpublished photo of Dr. Tom Smith, rifle master, naturalist, and what one of my friends calls “the Chuck Norris of the Arctic”, scouting the land for polar bears ensuring that it’s safe for us to land. I could tell stories all day about Tom, but my favorite story to tell is when he saved a polar bear’s life by punching it in the face.

Join me this Thursday at 8 pm at Ira Lippke Studios in Chelsea, as I share more images and stories from my Arctic experience. I hope to see you there and share a glass of beer or wine with you!

#thisarcticlife #svalbard #arctic #polarbears #makeportraits #storyportrait

by Katherine Yaksich

 Arctic Self Portrait 
   An Arctic self portrait taken less than 600 miles from the North Pole, while we search for polar bears near the pack ice.   Thanks for joining me on this wild adventure. It’s difficult to describe my experience in the Arctic as a photographer in residence, but I definitely have a greater appreciation for our planet. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and had the wonderful opportunity to be part of a gracious, knowledgable, and talented expedition team. I’m excited to be back on the ship headed to Antarctica next February, which would mark my 7th and final continent. Antarctica has actually been on my bucket list ever since I did a school report on it in third grade.    
   I will leave you with this quote by Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic photographer and biologist, that truly resonated with me:   
   “I want to bring back images of this remote, raw, unforgiving, beautiful, and yet extremely fragile world to you. I want you to care about these regions as much as I do, and I hope to inspire you to help avert the warming trend that is changing them quickly and irreversibly.”     
   Live Adventurously,  Reuben

 Arctic Self Portrait

An Arctic self portrait taken less than 600 miles from the North Pole, while we search for polar bears near the pack ice. 

Thanks for joining me on this wild adventure. It’s difficult to describe my experience in the Arctic as a photographer in residence, but I definitely have a greater appreciation for our planet. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and had the wonderful opportunity to be part of a gracious, knowledgable, and talented expedition team. I’m excited to be back on the ship headed to Antarctica next February, which would mark my 7th and final continent. Antarctica has actually been on my bucket list ever since I did a school report on it in third grade. 

I will leave you with this quote by Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic photographer and biologist, that truly resonated with me:

“I want to bring back images of this remote, raw, unforgiving, beautiful, and yet extremely fragile world to you. I want you to care about these regions as much as I do, and I hope to inspire you to help avert the warming trend that is changing them quickly and irreversibly.”  

Live Adventurously,
Reuben

by Katherine Yaksich

This Arctic Life 
  My favorite image of my Arctic series goes out to this mother and cub, spotted from our ship from over 8 miles away by one of our naturalists. It may not look like it, but this was my most challenging photograph. We had to race over in our Zodiacs in very rough waters to get within 125 meters, and shooting at a focal length of 640 mm from a bouncing watercraft is not very ideal. Water was spraying all over us in true Arctic expedition fashion, and some cameras even stopped working after this operation.   
  According to a report published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, “  A substantial reduction in the   extent of the sea ice during the summer will   undoubtedly have a negative impact on polar   bears. Based on extremely conservative   forecasts about the future extent of the sea ice,   scientists have estimated that two thirds of the   polar bear population could become extinct by   2050. If the sea ice continues to retreat at the   speed witnessed during the last few years, the   situation will become even more critical.”

This Arctic Life

My favorite image of my Arctic series goes out to this mother and cub, spotted from our ship from over 8 miles away by one of our naturalists. It may not look like it, but this was my most challenging photograph. We had to race over in our Zodiacs in very rough waters to get within 125 meters, and shooting at a focal length of 640 mm from a bouncing watercraft is not very ideal. Water was spraying all over us in true Arctic expedition fashion, and some cameras even stopped working after this operation. 

According to a report published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, “A substantial reduction in the extent of the sea ice during the summer will undoubtedly have a negative impact on polar bears. Based on extremely conservative forecasts about the future extent of the sea ice, scientists have estimated that two thirds of the polar bear population could become extinct by 2050. If the sea ice continues to retreat at the speed witnessed during the last few years, the situation will become even more critical.”

by Katherine Yaksich

MOTHERHOOD

Polar bears rolling in the deep at Hornsund, located on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard.

Filmed on location in the Arctic

by Katherine Yaksich

Arctic Short Video Series 3 of 4 (15 sec)

A time lapse of our expedition ship navigating through pack ice less than 600 miles from the North Pole, while we search for polar bears.

by Katherine Yaksich

I AM THE WALRUS
Part 1 of 4 of my short Arctic video series (15 sec each). Filmed handheld at a focal length of 640 mm so please pardon the camera shake!

Filmed on location in the Arctic

by Katherine Yaksich

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This Arctic Life

We spotted blue whales in the Arctic at 2:30 am near the bow of our ship! Blue whales are the largest animal known to have ever lived on earth, and are much larger than the largest dinosaur. They can weigh up to 200 tons or 400,000 pounds and are currently classified as an endangered species. 

by Katherine Yaksich

This Arctic Life 
 One last shot before I go again - my favorite polar bear at Inglefieldbreen. Polar bears have transparent hair, black skin, and black tongues and are the largest terrestrial predator on earth. #thisarcticlife (at Svalbard)

This Arctic Life

One last shot before I go again - my favorite polar bear at Inglefieldbreen. Polar bears have transparent hair, black skin, and black tongues and are the largest terrestrial predator on earth. #thisarcticlife (at Svalbard)