Nature and wildlife photographer Michel Rawicki grew up in Paris, but he has always been attracted to icy landscapes.
He tells MNN that the "call of the cold" appeared when he was 10 years old. He was in the Valley of Chamonix where he discovered the ice cave in the Aiguille du Midi mountain.
"I took the ice in my arms ... and started photographing with my Kodak Starflash Brownie," he tells MNN in an email.
Enthralled by people, animals and icy panoramas, Rawicki said from early childhood he really wanted to photograph polar bears — known by the Inuit indigenous people as "nanuk."
"The encounter with Nanuk has always been in my dreams since I am a kid," Rawicki writes. "In 1992, I had the same chance to discover Greenland and walk on the ice cap; it was also the year when I first meet and photographed Nanuk."
After several decades photographing his favorite subjects, Rawicki shares his images in "Polar Bears: A Life Under Threat," published by ACC Art Books. The beautifully illustrated book contains gorgeous photos of bears playing, lolling, hunting and walking on the ice.
Rawicki says on land, he is only about 100 meters (110 yards) away from the bears. When photographing them by sea, he's often even closer.
Rawicki shot the photos throughout Alaska, Canada, Norway, Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.
After decades of shooting in the cold, he typically is prepared and knows what to expect.
"Sometimes it is difficult to shoot with polar gloves, that is why I had a serious frostbite and [managed] to lose a finger some years ago in Canada by an amazing 'Northern light night.' Also in 2012, I fell down in the water as I was walking on the ice approaching a baby seal off the Canadian coast north of the Saint Laurent River. I then unfortunately learned to 'swim as a seal.' "
Because he has been shooting in the Arctic for so long, Rawicki has observed first-hand how polar ice has changed over the years.
"According to scientists, the Arctic sea ice has lost nearly 30% since the 1990s," he says. "Between 1995 and 2006, I saw the pack ice recede north by several hundred kilometers."
Rawicki says he hopes to create images of special, gentle moments.
Rawicki explains what he feels is his job as a photographer.