• Settings:

Why Antarctica for Photography

The remote region of Antarctica is a photographer's paradise. From stunning ice statues and breath-taking reflections to peppy penguins and unique marine mammals there will be something to catch your photographic eye at every turn.

The rugged wilderness landscape is unlike anything you will experience anywhere else in the world. Sprawling icescapes seem to stretch for miles and seeing tabular icebergs towering above you will leave you astounded. Although the wildlife in Antarctica is truly unhabituated, the penguins appear completely unfazed by human presence which enables photographers close-up encounters without disturbing the peace.

When to go?

For photographers, without doubt, the best time to travel is early in the Antarctic season. This is when the landscape and wildlife it at its most pristine and you will be able to capture images showing incredible ice formations and penguins set against a classic white backdrop. Typically this is the time that most of the professional images you see of Antarctica are taken. Travelling later in the season the snow and ice recede leaving grey stone backdrops and the penguin colonies are dirty and muddy. Our when to go section breaks down by month what you can expect to find in Antarctica.

What type of ship to choose?

The best type of ship for photographers exploring the polar regions are small ships with less than 100 passengers on board; in Antarctica only 100 people are allowed to land on shore at any one time so travelling in a smaller group allows everyone to experience longer shore landings at the same time without waiting in turn.

Another important feature of ships travelling to Antarctica is stablisation. Very small ships lack stability making for uncomfortable sea crossings. Ideally choose a ship with a good stabilisation system for comfort during crossings such as the infamous Drake Passage and while navigating inshore waters. Although there are plenty of exciting shore landings and wildlife encounters in Antarctica, as you are venturing to such a remote location, there are inevitable days at sea throughout your trip. During these journeys it is important you have facilities on board to keep you entertained; some small ships still manage to fit in an on-board gym, spacious and comfortable communal areas and even sauna and heated plunge pool.

Finally, considering the ice class of your ship is essential, especially earlier in the season. Choose ships with high ice classes to ensure close access to iconic wildlife locations and breath-taking landscapes.

Cl Antarctica South Georgia Credit Jonathan Z Lee

Talk to a Antarctica Destination Specialist

Important things to consider

  • Number of people in Zodiacs - Fewer people in each Zodiac means more room for photo equipment. Most ships will take 12 per Zodiac but specialist photographic trips may limit this to 10 per Zodiac to enable you to move round comfortably and get in the best position for capturing that perfect shot.
  • Number of days on peninsula - Look out for trips with as many days on the actual Antarctic peninsula as possible. This allows you to maximise photographic opportunities and make the most of the changeable weather conditions. A long trip does not always equate to numerous days spent on the peninsula.
  • Specialist led trips with multiple experts - Look out for trips with multiple experts rather than just one photographic leader. This will more than double your access to knowledge, tuition and feedback.
  • Specialist photographic excursions - Some trips will focus on photographic excursions with the purpose of getting the best angles and shooting in good or exciting lighting conditions. This will add an extra dimension to your Antarctica photographs to make them stand out from the crowd.
  • Opportunity for extended hikes - As expeditions ships are likely to have over 50 passengers on board it may sometimes be difficult to provide activities to suit everyone. Therefore, it is good to look for ships that offer a variety of activities during shore landings for example one shorter and one longer hike. This gives the chance for keen adventurers and photographers to go that extra mile for a unique photograph and experience.
  • Tailored on-board lectures and presentations - Most trips to Antarctica will include informal lectures while on board. On specific photographic departures, however, these will be tailored to focus on photography critiques, composition, technical instruction and photographic presentations. This allows you to make the most of the expertise on-board and hone your skills ready for capturing the beauty of Antarctica.
  • More time spent on-shore - All Antarctica safaris will include shore landings however, on larger ships these may just be short excursions allowing you to stretch your legs and see some of the wildlife on land. When exploring this incredible continent you want to be able to maximise your time spent on-land and not feel like you are being rushed from location to location. It is even possible to camp on land allowing you to spend the whole night photographing the stunning Antarctic landscapes to your heart's content. Enquire about the actual time spent on shore when deciding which safari to choose.
  • Not all photographic leaders are equal – Many trips that are sold as photography trips use resident photographers and while they are often very skilled there can be a big difference to travelling on a specialist-led trip with a named professional photographer. The latter will often have a better eye for what makes a sellable image and push boundaries to get the best shots. The potential images you come away with will be very different and far superior.
Sl Antarctica South Georgia David Yarrow

We are the travel outfitter of choice for many professional wildlife photographers because we understand what they need from a trip. We have access to the very best Antarctic departures across a range of leading ships and will work with you to ensure you are on the best possible expedition for your requirements.