A French photographer travels to the Arctic north to document an ancient reindeer migration

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Carol Hills: Tonight as little children around the world strain to hear the sound of reindeer on their roof tops they might do well to ask Celine Clanet. She knows the sound of reindeer hoofs, the para space photographer has been documenting reindeer herders who live on the icy tundra of Lapland they are known as the Sami people. To make the trip to Lapland each year Clanet drives all the way from France to the icy tip of Norway. Celine Clanet: Driving is the best way of traveling when you are a photographer. You go from south Europe which is Paris fro me it is just full of highways in the beginning and once you are in Scandinavia it is just so quiet, so much forest so much lakes and then suddenly the forests just disappear and you are in the tundra. Then you know you are in Lapland. Hills: Now reindeer herding is sort of fundamental to the Sami culture and a lot of your photos are about the reindeer, these reindeer are wild aren't they? Clanet: yes. They are totally wild. That is the interesting thing about it actually because all those wild animals belong to a herder but they are free and they are wild, there are no fences. So there is a very specific way of herding animals because you have no way to adapt to them and follow them because they are migrating animals. Hills: How do the reindeer herders, the Sami's that herd them, how do they keep track of them? Are the reindeer marked in some way? How do they know? Clanet: Yes they are marked in a very traditional way with a special drawing made with a knife and each person, each Sami has it's own marks. It is even registered in a book. Hills: You know some of your photos of the reindeer herds are quite striking one that caught my eye was it is sort of a medium shot above and there is a bunch of reindeer close together and when you initially look at it the reindeer’s and their bodies and antlers fill the frame and they almost look like trees. How did you actually take that picture from above? Clanet: I took that on a boat it was at the end of the migration some herds migrate in an island so they have to cross the sea and to avoid many losses because of drowning some herders higher big boats to put the herd in and then they can cross the sea and put them in the island and so it is very spectacular because the reindeer are not used to be locked so suddenly they are locked in a boat they are panicking so they are turning all around. Hills: suddenly close quarters for a wild animal. Clanet: Yea, most of the time you are not so close from the reindeer because as we said they are wild and most of the herders keep very far away from them. Hills: I have to ask I have always heard that reindeer produce a clicking sound when they walk . Did you here that clicking? Clanet: Yes, it is actually the sound they make because they are silent animals I don't know in English how to say it the feet of the reindeer I don't know the word. Hills: The hoofs. Clanet: The hoofs yes that make that sound click, click , click. Hills: As a photographer you are obviously deeply concerned with life and the quality of the life that far north is something quite spectacular it is also incredibly different from where you grew up in southern France. How do you sort of adapt to that? How do you take that on as a photographer? Clanet: In a way it is so easy to be a photographer up there because the quality of light is amazing. The way it is caressing the skin of the people, the landscape it is so soft and so cold at the same time. It is a very bluish light Hills: Celine Clanet is a photographer based in Paris she has been documenting the Sami people and their reindeer herds in the Norwegian Lapland and you can see some of her images at PRI.org. Thanks Celine Clanet: Thank you very much.