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Martin Gregus Jr winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 Competition – 33 days among the Bears
From AviaEye
12th October 2021

Martin Gregus is the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021, Rising Star Portfolio Award!

© Martin Gregus Jr
Lovers – The main image of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 exhibition featuring two bears Veronica and Betty

Slovakia born and currently living in Vancouver Martin is an internationally-awarded wildlife photographer, cinematographer, drone pilot and guide with over 17 years experience.

© Martin Gregus Jr
Summer Siesta – A drone image of mom Athena and her three legged cub Hercules taking a nap after an exhausting day foraging!

Having spent the last five years working in the Arctic and Antarctic searching for new wildlife stories and studying animal behaviours, his efforts finally payed off when on October 12th 2021 six of his polar bear images won the Rising Star Portfolio Award at the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in London, UK. The most prestigious wildlife photography competition in the world and an amazing win for the young photographer.

© Martin Gregus Jr
Mother at ease – Mama bear Wilma nurses her two cubs Bamm-Bamm and PebblesMother at ease Mama bear Wilma nurses her two cubs Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles

This award will be the third time Martin’s work has been recognized at the competition; in 2008, his picture “White on Blue” was specially commended while his image “Crane Perfection” won the 11-14 category in 2010.

© Martin Gregus Jr
Ice Bear as Sea Bear – An adult male making his way from the sea ice to land; photographed with a custom built underwater camera housing

Ever since then, Martin has had an obsession with this world-renowned competition; submitting his work every year, competing amongst the best wildlife photographers in the world, and dreaming of one day winning the adult competition. Hearing the news earlier this year was without a doubt a dream come true.

© Martin Gregus Jr
Polar Pursuit – Our make shift base camp grounded on the shore of the Hudson Bay

My Polar Bear Story

As the pandemic raged during the summer of 2020, Martin decided to brave the mosquitoes and turn his attention to documenting and exploring new areas of the Hudson Bay. Just as the bears’ sea-ice retreated and they were forced to come ashore, Martin put together a small crew and set out to a part of the Arctic that only a handful of people have ever visited.

© Martin Gregus
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021, Rising Star Portfolio Award Winner Martin Gregus Jr, Arctic Circle

Over the next two years, he would go on to spend some 33 days camping in his makeshift boat camp, living next to the arctic apex predator. Utilizing drones and custom-built equipment allowed Martin to get up close and personal to the bears all the while staying invisible, often capturing intimate moments and unique hunting behaviours. While the bears showed little interest in the expedition during the day, they became more interested at nighttime. Bears tripping all the alarms was almost a nightly ritual as the curious animals sometimes got so close to camp that they would stare right through Martin’s bedroom window.

© Martin Gregus Jr
Rainbow Mirror

The young photographer had to adjust to showering in the 5 degree Arctic Ocean and living off of nothing but dried foods for weeks on end; all the while learning to function on three hours of bear-interrupted sleep. Martin came home from his 33 days among the bears safe and sound. Observing the polar bears’ curiosity and compassion changed the lives of Martin and his team forever. The bears shared their most intimate moments with Martin’s team, enabling them to return home and share their stories with the world and giving you the opportunity to publish the amazing photographs, videos, and personal encounters.

© Martin Gregus Jr
To the Eternity

For Martin's full portfolio visit: matkopictures.com

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© 2021 Martin Gregus – All photographs here are copyrighted material of Martin Gregus

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