John Tidwell

Polar Bear Photographer

Interviews

2009

Polar bear photographer and local Utqiaġvik resident, John Tidwell talks about how the bears can survive on land. He agrees that ice is getting thin and that bears are having a hard time finding seals on the dwindling ice, but he also has what he considers evidence that there’s plenty of food on land for the bears.

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Photographer John Tidwell reflects on his experiences in the Arctic, sharing intriguing stories about polar bears and their behavior. He recalls a time when bears were attracted to the smell of pizza from a local restaurant, and how they showed a strong preference for honey over other food options. Joe explains his tactics for photographing bears, including setting up bait and observing their footprints to determine the best time for sightings. He also shares his unique camouflage techniques, using a vehicle with a tarp and umbrella to blend in with the surroundings. John discusses the bears’ aggression towards each other and their cautious nature to avoid getting hurt. He mentions his preferred vehicles for exploration and taking visitors to see bears. Despite some misconceptions, John believes that bears in far-off Churchill on Hudson Bay in Canada are well-fed and can be found along the beach during the summer, where they fish and scavenge for food.

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Barrow (now Utqiaġvik) photographer John Tidwell opposes carrying guns while photographing bears, advocating for peaceful coexistence of man and animal. John shares stories of memorable encounters with bears. He also highlights the difficulty of capturing stunning shots, often incorporating elements like crashing waves and flying seagulls. Recently, John has ventured into selling his bear photographs on cups. Through his work, he conveys a deep appreciation for wildlife and the importance of non-invasive observation.

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