Interview With Benoist Clouet

Born and raised in the temperate climate of rural Normandy, Benoist Clouet has developed a reputation for his dramatic images of the frozen Arctic. Following the publication of his book 80° Nord, he reveals why he has become obsessed with the landscape of Svalbard and prefers to make his photographic trips during the Arctic winter

Which interest came first, nature or photography?

Nature! I grew up in a small village in Normandy, far from the large cities and closer to forests. My parents and grandparents were farmers. I was always passionate about nature and wildlife. When I was young I was a boy scout and I had the chance to stay and live in the forest during the weekends and holidays. 

How did you become attracted to the Arctic?

I have always been attracted to wild areas where Man barely sets foot. I had always dreamt of seeing, touching and feeling the ice of the Arctic, and it remained for a long time a distant and inaccessible dream. When I started earning a little money, I decided to go north. My first destinations were Scotland and Ireland. Then came Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and finally Svalbard.

Why did you go to Svalbard?

In 2007 I was in Norway to take some pictures of sea eagles in Flatanger with my friend Ole Martin Dahle. In his guesthouse, I saw a flyer about an expedition to Svalbard. It was ...

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