Perhaps ironically, for the world’s most accomplished underwater photographer, Israeli Amos Nachoum, a white whale isn’t a whale at all, but instead a bear of the same color.
“Picture of His Life” follows Nachoum as he tries to capture photos of a polar bear from a place no one ever has before, swimming alongside it.
Nachoum lives out of a suitcase much of the time, with no wife and no kids, but as fellow photographer Javier Mendoza says, “He’s married to the ocean.”
The film follows his attempts to make contact with the elusive bears, one of the few predators on the planet that can rightly count humans as a possible source of food. Nachoum heads to Churchill, Canada, the region where most polar bears live.
He explains that he has attempted to capture a polar bear in the past, but ultimately failed, having to evade the predator in the water, and nearly dying in the process.
A large portion of the film is dedicated to the undertaking of finding a suitable bear, which are stealthy in the water at the best of times and not nearly as populous as they once were. The film explains that because of reductions in polar ice, scientists predict that two-thirds of the current polar bear population will be gone by 2050, one of many reasons Nachoum feels the need to undertake this quest.
Nachoum, who fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, still envisions the soldier in his uniform, now shooting photographs instead of bullets.
“I see myself as a soldier of mother nature,” he said.