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 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.
A hilarious and evocative misadventure, Arctic Solitaire shares Paul Souders exploits across four summers, six hundred miles of a vast inland sea, and the unpredictable Arctic wilderness – and also offers an insightful look at what compels a person to embark on adventure. The accompanying images of the landscape, people, and wildlife of the remote Hudson Bay region are, in a word, stunning.
For more than thirty years, Paul Souders has traveled around the world and across all seven continents as a professional photographer. His images have appeared across the globe in a wide variety of publications, including National Geographic, Geo (France and Germany), Time, and Life magazines, as well as in hundreds of publishing and advertising projects.
"In freely sharing what he sees and experiences, Souders immerses his audience in a captivating adventure, offering an intimate view of both the perils of lone exploration and the stunning beauty of the wild. The result is a rare, enchanting treat for any reader."
– Barry Silverstein, Foreword Reviews
"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 and The Wake of the Unseen Object
"[Arctic Solitaire] offers a pleasurable excursion into the arctic wilds, interspersed with excellent, colorful images that give a good sense of the landscape [...] Adventurous memories of a talented photojournalist that abound with wonderful surprises."
– Kirkus Reviews