They say art is life. Now, while you could view it metaphorically in the sense that art shows you what life actually is, for many artists, it is quite literal—art is their life, and they dedicate it to the fullest.
Uri and Helle Løvevild Golman are a professional wildlife photographer couple who have dedicated their lives to drawing attention to the beauty of the animal kingdom of the world through their photography.
Not only is their photography simply awe-inspiring, but so is the story behind their work and behind their life together. During one of their photography expeditions, they were attacked by extremists, leaving Uri in a wheelchair. But this has never stopped the couple from pursuing their calling—animal conservation through action and photography.
Image credits: Uri and Helle Løvevild Golman
Bored Panda got in touch with Uri and Helle Løvevild Golman for an exclusive interview, which you can read below along with their journey as photographers. And while you’re down there, why not vote and comment on the photos you’ve enjoyed the most!
Back in 2017, the two were in Gabon for a documentary. Unfortunately, at a local market, an extremist attacked Uri and stabbed him ten times—in the heart, liver, and several other locations. They fought off the extremist and were immediately rushed to the hospital, where Uri remained in critical condition. A bit over a week later, they were transported via medical plane back to Denmark.
The attack was so severe that Uri was left unable to speak, swallow, or walk—the prognosis wasn’t good. But the two never gave up, and after intense rehab, they were back at home. Uri gradually regained his speech, his ability to swallow, and movement in his arms, and is now relearning to walk. And the fire to help animals never went out.
Uri retells his experience after the attack: “My soul left the dead body and went to a beautiful tunnel starting out light blue, twirling like pieces of soft ice, pulling me up into bright white light. But my soul is simply too tough to die, and I had to return to my beautiful strong wife and wonderful daughters Silvia and Lilya. And, of course, I have to finish our mission—to protect the world’s wild places together with Helle. And I was lucky to be reincarnated in my own body, now a much wiser and more loving person than ever before.”
Helle and Uri met and fell in love in the Arctic during one of their expeditions. Since then, they have never parted. The two spend one half of their year traveling and documenting wildlife in the most remote regions of the world—from the arctic to Africa—though photography, and the remainder of the year sorting images, producing articles and books, and working on their conservation project called Project WILD.
Helle and Uri shared what a typical photographic expedition looks like for them: “We start with a one-month planning phase: booking tickets, choosing what equipment to bring, etc. Then we get to our destination, which has to be truly wild, and meet up with our local tracker and get the necessary permissions. And then the hard and sometimes excruciating work begins, but this is then by all means also the best part.”
They continued: “Then starts the waiting game, spending hours after hours waiting for the wildlife to show up. And suddenly some amazing creature shows up! We always try to create a voyeuristic look to our images to show that we are merely guests in their pristine habitat. The shutter goes ‘click click click,’ the adrenaline and endorphins rush through our brains because of the excitement of being so close to a real wild animal.”
“We always work by our own mantra: What you love, you will protect! Keeping up to our own standards of wanting to portray the animal’s soul to inspire others to want to protect them. In short, we believe that all animals are personalities that have a role to play in the whole ecosystem. And we need to protect all of them and the places they live in. If we are not ourselves as a species, then we will disappear from this still amazing planet,” elaborated the couple.
“Today we are aware that with this story behind us—we now have got a much more powerful voice for nature and conservation because we have now proved our willingness to fight for what we love because what you love you will protect.”
Like any photography project, this one comes with its own challenges, as explained Uri and Helle: “The most difficult part is patience, endurance, resilience, and, last but not least, to recognize a good photo when you see it. Always going the extra mile is of great importance.”
They continued: “We are humbled to say that our project finished one year before the pandemic started, so we were lucky to have finished all our travels before this crazy time began. That said, our Project WILD is a lifelong mission to protect the world's last wild places and endangered wildlife. We will not stop our work until this planet is completely rewilded.”
Lastly, we asked the award-winning photographer couple to elaborate on their favorite expedition. They had this to say:
“Naming a favorite expedition is truly difficult because we love the entire planet and its glorious wildlife. But one special experience was when a wild coastal wolf came wandering straight towards us on a beautiful island bordering the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia, Canada. It walked on a stony beach with beautiful silver-colored driftwood timber. We were completely mesmerized by this wild creature’s confidence in us; it showed no fear. A clear sign that the wolves here are not hunted and are left completely alone.”
“It came up to Uri and licked his rubber boot and we were both crying with tears of joy and happiness. A few seconds later, it stuck its snout into the lens hood of our camera. It was so close and playful that we couldn’t use our big lenses and decided to switch and take pictures with our mobile phone. The playfulness of this lone female wolf is a clear sign of how a man met a dog and they became best friends.”
Be sure to check out Uri and Helle’s website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube Channel for more wildlife goodness, and the couple has recently published a photo book of their best work which you can also find on their e-store.
Note: this post originally had 54 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.