Manitoba man’s image of a playful polar bear named best of 2015

polar bear

A Manitoba man’s photo of a polar bear playing in a colourful field of flowers is being recognized as one of 2015’s best.

The popular online publication My Modern Met named Dennis Fast’s image of a polar bear laying on its back, peaking over its shoulder at the camera, one of the “Top 50 Photographs from Around the World.” It was selected alongside a group of images featuring a range of subjects, from natural forces like lightning and volcanoes to a couple of newlyweds perched on the ledge of a mountainside.

Fast, who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, travelled to the field where he photographed the bears while working as a guide for Churchill Wild, a tour company offering Arctic safaris. His camp was set up on an island off Hudson Bay’s coast, north of Churchill, Manitoba, which is also known as the “polar bear capital of the world.”

Although only one photo was officially recognized, Fast has an entire collection of fairytale-like images that capture the bears frolicking in a field of fireweed. And they’re all equally mesmerizing.

Photo by Dennis Fast
Photo by Dennis Fast
Photo by Dennis Fast
Photo by Dennis Fast

“If you’ve ever seen how playful polar bears can be…it’s really quite unbelievable,” he told CBC News. “It’s very striking to see that white animal surrounded by a pink-purple field of flowers.”

But it’s not just the dramatic colours and adorable subjects that make these images so exceptional—it’s the rare look at these creatures’ playful sides, away from the typical snowy landscapes we’re used to seeing them in.

During the summer months Fast says “they tend to be loafing and lazy because typically they don’t eat unless they luck into something.” Lucky for Fast and the others on the tour, it also means they tend to be a little less aggressive. After looking at such serene images, it’s easy to forget that there are major risks involved in getting shots like these.

“We were camping there with an electric fence…but when we’re out in the open, we try not to get too close, simply because it can get scary,” Fast told CBC.

He was leading film crews on the tour and decided to snap a few pictures of his own. He says he wasn’t expecting his shots to garner as much recognition as they have.

“It’s really quite a thrill. I’m totally shocked and amazed and pleased,” he said.