Yves Adams is a passionate nature and Arctic guide and renowned photographer. Years of experience have brought him to a subtle understanding of Svalbard and the Arctic region. We are proud to have him aboard as a core team member!
Yves met Oscar and Vera during his first Svalbard trip, about 15 years ago. He was very impressed by them as a team, so they started talking about the possibility of leading expeditions together. “It started with one trip, which quickly became an annual expedition. We’ve guided several expeditions every year, for more than 10 years. Our mutual trust has always been very spontaneous and natural.”
Guiding unchartered adventures
What makes Vega expeditions unique for him? “I have been guiding wildlife and bird photography trips since 2007, revisiting a lot of destinations like Norway, Iceland, Hungary and Bulgaria … Over time, more photographers visit these places, and facilities materialise. The result is that you are guided toward a certain type of image. This is not the case during a tour with Vega expeditions.
We never really know where we are heading because of weather changes. It makes every trip very exciting, and you create images that have not been shot before. We often land our zodiacs in places where nobody has landed. In the pack ice, the sea is an unspoiled wilderness. That is the kind of unchartered adventure I always dreamt about.”
No two expeditions are the same for Yves. Even after more than 20 visits to Svalbard and Greenland, and even though he sometimes spend months in the region, returning is a privilege every time. What draws him so much to guiding expeditions? “I love sharing the excitement of discovering the wild”, he says. “Our travellers trust us to bring them to remote places and navigate them through the challenges. They are so genuinely grateful when we find the animals or discover unique places … it’s heartwarming and motivates me to the core. These expeditions bind us. You work together as a team and get to know each other well. In such a small group, each member can suggest where to go and what to look for. People think they are undertaking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but many return because the experience is too exhilarating to forget.”
Unique Nordic photography
Having Yves as a photography teacher and guide is an experience our guests are unlikely to forget. “What excites me most is photographing animals in their natural surroundings in a way that discloses the greatness of the environment. Zooming out, you show how rugged and majestic both the animal and its surroundings are. It’s landscape and wildlife photography in one. Ice sea, fjords, glaciers, snowy mountains, cliffs … these are unique settings where approaching animals is unlikely. But we do.
The introduction of a new group is always exciting. And saying goodbye is difficult after the adventure we’ve shared. We set out to reach several goals, and when we spot that first polar bear, Arctic fox or whale, it’s truly magic. People get excited and emotional … You find yourself in this intense, front-row experience, alone in these incredible surroundings and so close to these animals, sometimes you can even smell them. It really makes your hair stand on end.
On one of our recent trips, we spotted a polar bear eating a seal on the pack ice and approached it slowly by zodiac to get some low-angle shots. There was nothing else in sight, just this vast ice sea. As we were photographing, the ice floes moved back and forth, opening and closing with the current. We were pushing them away with the zodiac, avoiding the creation of an ice bridge between our boat and the bear. Then another opening appeared next to us, this time wider than the others. Suddenly an enormous blue whale appeared out of nothing in this gap, blowing and making a tremendous noise. It stayed up for a while, breathing just next to us … We couldn’t believe the entire setting. Being part of such an experience is truly spectacular.”
Country of origin
Forest Management & Nature Recovery
IAATO Antarctica Polar guide
Finding the perfect light
Strong intuition about photo opportunities
Spotting the animals from (really!) far away
Helping people and bringing out the best in them
Anywhere with snow and ice
Places where I can practice underwater photography
On my bucket list
Photograph bowhead whales in the Northwest Passage
Encounter Arctic wolves on Ellesmere Island