Florian Ledoux is smitten by icy landscapes and the creatures that live there — and committed to saving them while inspiring action in others.
The more he explores the world’s polar regions, the further he wants to go. And thanks to his keen eye and skill as a photographer and videographer, he’s now embarked on a long-term project to document and protect them,
highlighting the beauty and fragility of the Arctic region.
Adding drone photography to the mix allows him to share a unique perspective. His now-famous shot, “Above the Polar Bear” won Photo of the Year in last year’s Art Photo Travel Drone Awards.
The incredible moment in time was captured by Ledoux with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone.
Ledoux’s inspiring film featuring stunning aerial photography, “I Am Fragile,” won first prize at HIPA, the International Photography Award of Dubai. It is also being screened internationally, including the Ocean Film Festival World Tour.
“I used a drone to capture aerials because drones bring a new perspective to traditional wildlife photography,” Ledoux told National Geographic for a feature about his work.
He is also extremely cautious when photographing wildlife, whether with drones or traditional gear.
“I usually spend a lot of time close to the animal before even thinking of flying my drone,” he said. “On the first day when we arrived in Nunavut I saw seven polar bears, yet I did not fly the drone on this day. I wanted to let them get used to it and see how they would behave in our presence.”
Studying animal behavior is critical, he said. Only later, when he had a good understanding of the bear’s behavior, did he fly high to avoid disturbing noise and then slowly lower the drone to ensure the animals were not annoyed.
As seen evidenced in his film, he said, “the polar bears are not at all disturbed by the drone.”
On his first trip to the Arctic as a 10-year-old boy, Ledoux fell in love with northern landscapes and animals at an early age. His first encounter with a polar bear brought him to tears.
“The pinnacle of my reportage expedition was undoubtedly my close encounters with these majestic yet gentle animals. For me, there is no better feeling than being close to those magnificent mammals, sharing a space with them. I will always remember that moment I saw my first polar bear, I cried during the three hours we stayed close to them. I discovered it swimming and by the time I left my binoculars to announce it to our captain, I was already crying,” he said.
Ledoux said hope paired with environmental action is what he wants to stir in those who see and appreciate his work.
Ledoux generously shared a gallery of recent images from an expedition to Antarctica and wants each image to serve as a reminder that every day is Earth Day.