Paul Souders, Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, the Quest for the Perfect Bear

Paul Souders, Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, the Quest for the Perfect Bear

For more than thirty years, Paul Souders has traveled the world as a professional photographer. Tonight he speaks about his book, Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, a Bay, and the Quest for the Perfect Bear (Mountaineers Books), the story of his quest to capture the perfect polar bear photo. In Arctic Solitaire, Paul writes about the four summers he spent in the Arctic, traveling six hundred miles of a vast inland sea and exploring the unpredictable and remote Arctic wilderness in the process.
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  • Thu, Sep 20, 2018 from 07:00 PM to 08:30 PM
  • Mountaineers Books
  • The Mountaineers
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Photographer Paul Souders considered himself a lucky guy. He traveled the world and got paid to take pictures. Yet at age fifty he seemed an unlikely explorer. Recently married, he was leading a generally contented life as an urban homebody, ending most days with a cold martini and a home-cooked meal. So how did he find himself alone aboard a tiny boat, enduring bad weather and worse cooking, while struggling to find his way across more than a thousand miles of Hudson Bay?

It was all for a picture. He dreamed of photographing the Arctic’s most iconic animal, the polar bear, in its natural habitat. It was a seemingly simple plan: Haul a 22-foot fishing boat northeast a few thousand miles, launch, and shoot the perfect polar bear photo. After an inauspicious start and endless days spent driving to the end of northern Canada’s road system, he backed his C-Dory, C-Sick, into a small tributary of Hudson Bay. Battered by winds and plagued by questionable navigation, Paul slowly motored C-Sick north in the hopes of finding the melting summer ice that should be home to more than a thousand polar bears. He struggled along for weeks, grounding on rocks, hiding from storms, and stopping in isolated Inuit villages, until finally, he found the ice and the world was transformed. The ice had brought hundreds of walrus into the bay and dozens of polar bears arrived to hunt and feed. For a few magical days, he was surrounded by incredible wildlife photo ops. He was hooked.

“Paul Souders's obsessive quest is weirder than his lighthearted tone would suggest. From the rim of the world, he brings back plenty of wisdom about the mania of professional photographers in this point-and-shoot age of easy adventure tourism. Also useful: tips about when to stop clicking--and start walking backwards.”—Tom Kizzia, author of Pilgrim's Wilderness.

For more than thirty years, Paul Souders’ adventure travels have taken him across all seven continents as a professional photographer. His photography has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including National Geographic, Geo (France and Germany), Time, and Life magazines. His images have won first place awards at the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions in 2011 and 2013, the National Geographic Photo of the Year contest in 2013, and Grand Prize in the 2014 Big Picture Competition. Paul lives in Seattle with his family; you can follow his adventures at and 

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The Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 Tenth Avenue Seattle, WA 98122