Grandmother finds solace in photography capturing bears around the world

Bear cubs
Bear cubs (Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

Photography is something different for everyone: a profession, a hobby, a different way of looking at the world. But for Jenny Hibbert, it was a lifeline. What started as a distraction following her mother’s death and a difficult divorce has turned into a full-time passion, taking Jenny to parts of the world she never imagined she’d find herself in. 

Life often presents us with situations we can’t control but it’s during these times we surprise ourselves the most. Using some of the money her mother left her, Jenny decided to invest in a digital camera and rekindle her love for photography. 

Her current kit includes a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a Canon EOS 7D Mark II, a Canon 300m f/2.8 L IS USM lens, a 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM, a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L USM and a Sigma 150-600mm DG OS HSM

• Read more: Best Canon cameras

Arctic fox cub (Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

“I thought I would get back into my photography. I have always done photography but decided to take it more seriously. I worked towards getting letters after my name and entered lots of international competitions. I went back to a camera club which certainly helped, meeting up with people who had the same love as me.”

Jenny’s love for bears developed during her first trip to the Arctic where she noticed the difficulties polar bears were under. She tells me, “This was in 2010 and I dread to think about how difficult it is for them now.”

Following her trip to the Arctic, Jenny booked a trip to Finland where she was able t photograph bears with their cubs. Spending hours a day in a hide, Jenny was able to witness the bear's antics and even watched a female bear feeding her cubs right outside her hide. 

Polar bear leaping over ice

Polar bear in environment (Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

“I just felt so privileged to witness this, she was so proud of her family. I’ve now been to Finland in all the seasons other than winter and see lots of bears; who wouldn’t fall in love with them all.”

One of the highlights of Jenny’s photography adventures was spending time with the Kazakh people in Mongolia (even though during the trip she frequently wondered why she was doing this). In order to go, Jenny had to attend an interview to make sure she was able to get on well with other people, could withstand the cold and be able to walk 19 miles a day for five days through snow and over mountains. 

Brown bear guarding the kill (Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

“The biggest lesson I learnt while I was with the Kazakhs is how lucky I am. We have everything, yet are not happy. They have nothing, but they are the happiest people ever. They have respect for each person sound them and they work so hard”

She recalls how it reminded her to appreciate what she has, and to work towards her dreams, which include spending time with the Sami Reindeer herders in the future. The Sami people are an Indigenous community in Scandinavia who lead their reindeer herds from the Arnøy Mountains to the tundra plateau on the mainland.  

(Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

Not only has Jenny traveled the world on her quest to photograph bears, but last year she became president of the Welsh Photographic Foundation. She's given presentations at camera clubs and has even been on the judging panel of an international photography competition.

Using photography, Jenny has turned trauma into triumph and embarked on a new journey where she has found friendship, fulfillment and a newfound love for bears. her story goes to show you're never too old to pick up a new hobby, try something new, and push yourself to do, be and see more. Jenny's advice to anyone going through something similar is to find something that interests you and meet like-minded people as "it helps to take your mind off all the worries and problems you may have".

(Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

(Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

(Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

(Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

Kazakh moving herd

Kazakh moving herd (Image credit: Jenny Hibbert)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.