Finding Inspiration in French Polynesia with Photographer Andy Bardon
Regarded as one of the most spectacular destinations in the world, French Polynesia is hub for magnificent wildlife, thriving ecosystems and picture-perfect scenery.
Photographer, climber, and free diver Andy Bardon travels to some of the most remote regions on Earth documenting human interactions with the natural world. His assignments for National Geographic have included capturing an 85-day climbing expedition on Mount Everest, and a story about the environmental impact of the pearl farming industry in French Polynesia. We caught up with Andy to talk about his adventures in French Polynesia and his advice for travellers in this tropical paradise.
What makes French Polynesia and the South Pacific a great photographic subject, and how would you encourage travellers to approach photography during this trip?
One of the highlights is the crystal-clear water. It’s so rare to have such amazing water clarity, and it provides a unique opportunity to see wildlife and make interesting images underwater. There is also incredible visual diversity available for a photographer in the South Pacific. There are amazing landscapes, portraits, and wildlife images everywhere. I encourage travellers to explore with their eyes wide open and document whatever they find inspiring.
Tell us about your most memorable trip to the South Pacific.
My most memorable trip to the region involved nearly a month of documenting black pearl farms in French Polynesia on assignment for National Geographic. Being able to witness a local economy benefiting from a regenerative gemstone was amazing and provided some stunning story visuals.
The assignment was also supported by the Waitt Foundation, which aims to help protect our planet’s oceans. They sent a number of scientists out with our team and it was incredibly interesting to work with them underwater to document the local lagoons. I used an underwater housing to help protect my camera which allowed me to get a very interesting perspective on my images.
How do you hope the experience of visiting French Polynesia will impact travellers?
I hope that visiting these destinations helps inspire people to care about the natural world. There is so much beauty to document, but there is also a fragile habitat to protect. I think that when people visit these locations and get to experience their wild nature, it helps them care about preserving these habitats for future generations. Travel is such an important way to help broaden our perspectives and our worldview.
Are there any other thoughts you want to share with prospective travellers to the South Pacific region?
Don’t forget your sunscreen!