Herbert George Ponting was born in 1870. He entered banking at the age of eighteen, but left to run a fruit ranch in California. In 1900, he began to cultivate photography and after winning several photographic contests was hired by a stereopticon company to produce views for their machines. He travelled widely in the Far East, South-East Asia and Europe and was a pioneer in the use of the camera as a medium of art rather than a mere recorder of events and persons.
By 1910, Ponting was recognised internationally as a popular photographer and travel writer. He was selected for the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), as camera artist, spending a year in the Antarctic. The technical difficulties of photography in the Antarctic were formidable but Ponting overcame these problems by his technical mastery. He photographed the behaviour of seals and other mammals and birds, behaviour that had previously been a matter of speculation, producing many valuable scientific records. His film of the expedition 90° South remains a classic of polar photography and his work in the Antarctic greatly enhanced his reputation.
After his year in Antarctica, he produced various versions of the film and undertook a number of unsuccessful business enterprises. He was internationally recognised for his work, honours included the Polar Medal, the Royal Geographical Society Medal and a medal from the Emperor of Japan. He died in 1935.