Meet Our Experts l Rick Tomlinson – Expedition Photographer & Teacher
‘Hi, I’m Rick Tomlinson, a professional, expedition, wildlife & yachting photographer. I started taking pictures in the Whitbread Round the World Race while crewing onboard Drum, owned by Simon le Bon and skippered by Skip Novak. My pictures have been published in magazines all over the world, including National Geographic and Yachting World.
I look forward to welcoming you on my Svalbard photography expedition where I will help you to improve your photography whilst we explore the Arctic.’
An Interview with Rick Tomlinson
What drew you to the Arctic as a photographer?
I was lucky enough to go to the Antarctic in 1992 with Skip Novak, I had raced the 1985 Whitbread Race with Skip on Simon le Bons maxi Drum, and we have been friends ever since. Experiencing the Antarctic made me want to see the Arctic. I love the air, the ices, the sea and landscape.
What is your background and passion as a photographer?
I started taking pictures for fun on the 1985 Whitbread Race where I was a boat builder and crew member. My pictures started being published in sailing magazines like Yachting World. I raced around the world 4 times each time becoming more of a photographer until I was commissioned by National Geographic in 1998. I love taking pictures of anything but I specialise in what I know, which is sailing, wildlife and high latitude expeditions.
What do you like about Svalbard?
Svalbard is a fantastic place. The sea ice, calving glacier faces, settlements, icebergs, and abundant wildlife are just so beautiful and make for fantastic images. The scale of the place is so impressive and the lack of pollution and commercialisation is also fantastic.
What draws you to Svalbard as a photographer?
There are many highlights and every trip is different. The wildlife is fantastic and it is one of the best places in the world to photograph polar bears in a natural environment. We also regularly encounter whales, walruses both on and off the land and a variety of birdlife. Carving glaciers are another highlight. Svalbard has a lot of glaciers and on a small expedition vessel, it is possible to cruise close to the glacier faces and get some great shots of ice tumbling into the water. Svalbard also has beautiful landscapes and early in the season, they are still snow-covered making it ideal for landscape photography.
Why is a small expedition vessel the best way to experience Svalbard?
A small expedition vessel is a perfect way to see Svalbard. The boat is specifically designed for this environment. Fewer people onboard means better interaction both within the group and with the guides and experts. Decisions can be made quicker to follow wildlife. Fewer people mean its easier to get ashore by Zodiac which means more time ashore photographing.
Why is it important to protect the Arctic?
The environment in the Arctic and Antarctic is very fragile, plastic, air pollution, global warming are all harmful to the wildlife and the delicate ice state. Svalbard is particularly vulnerable to global warming and it is important to document what is going on there.
How can photography be used for conservation and help spread the message about the threats the Arctic faces?
Photography is a very powerful tool in showing the rest of the world what is going on in these places and why its so important to make changes to the way we run the world. Showing how the glaciers have retreated, or how special the whales and polar bears are, raises awareness and unless we something soon these species and environments are going to be lost forever.
The photos featured on this page are used by the kind permission of © Rick Tomlinson