Published On: Sun, Dec 18th, 2016

Instagram takeover: A wintry escape with Daisy Gilardini – British Columbia – CBC News

The giggling seal

Vancouver photographer Daisy Gilardini snapped this image of a yawning seal in Antarctica. (Daisy Gilardini)

CBC Vancouver is featuring a local photographer on our Instagram page every month. This Saturday, we’re showcasing the work of Daisy Gilardini

From waiting 117 hours in frigid temperatures to capturing the perfect shot and scrambling over roots and trees in the Great Bear Rainforest, Vancouver photographer Daisy Gilardini knows what it means to persevere to get that perfect shot. 

Her work will be featured at the Smithsonian starting January 2017, and earlier this year she was recognized with the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Grand Prize. 


Daisy Gilardini near Churchill, Man. last February. (Daisy Gilardini)

Gilardini’s passion for photographing the polar regions started with a stuffed seal toy she got when she was four years old. 

“I was mesmerized by the stories my mum would tell me about the ice and these amazing creatures living on and under it,” she said.

“I grew up with the desire to see them in their natural environment before it all melted away and so in 1997 I finally managed to embark for a trip to Antarctica.” 

“The giggle” is one of her favourite photos of the Weddell seals in Antarctica. 

“The seals usually come to land to rest and digest after spending time in the water fishing. And once they’re sleeping, and you have maybe a fraction of a second to capture any type of exciting behaviour, like this yawn. It was a very funny face,” she said. 

Since then, she has joined more than 50 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica.

Living in the moment

Gilardini shot this snow globe-esque photo of the Gentoo penguin colony in November 2015 on a cold, windy day when she was also feeling feverish. 

Penguin colony

She was shooting a courting couple of penguins, when she said “this gust of wind came up and I almost fell down, and I thought I better go back and take care of myself.”

“Just as I was putting down the camera, I turned around and saw that scene, and I forgot about everything. The cold, the wind, the storm, everything,” she said.

“It was like an epiphany. It’s so rare that we get to just be in the moment, and this photo reminds of me that we need to do live in the present.”


This photo of Gilardini’s from Wapusk National Park in Manitoba has won her international accolades. 

Polar bears-motherhood

“Photographing these polar bears can be very challenging with the cold weather. At those temperatures, your camera will freeze, your batteries will die and even when your camera is working, you can’t check your settings because little crystals form all over it,” she said. 

“But I knew as soon as I took this photo that I had something special. The mother was so relaxed and I feel there’s so much tenderness there … everybody can relate to that.”

Gilardini said photographing Canada’s polar bears is a big honour. 

“I am obviously honoured for the recognition, but what is most important to me is this great opportunity to give a voice to creatures that cannot speak up and bring awareness on habitat loss and climate change through the power of a positive image,” she said.

“We need to reach peoples’ heart and emotions in order to move them to action.”

Fascination with bears

As a child, Gilardini had a large collection of teddy bears and all sorts of stuffed animals.

“I was raised in Switzerland at a time where no bears were to be found but I never questioned why I loved the bears so much,” she said.

“People always ask me if I’m afraid of bears because I spend so much time photographing them, but actually they calm me down.”

She has never had a bad encounter with one, she said.

This photo of a coastal grizzly bear was taken in Alaska.

Grizzly bear

“It looks like the bear is almost on top of me, but actually I’m about 50 metres away shooting with a long, telephoto lens as it charged through the water to catch the salmon.” 

The B.C. connection

Gilardini started photographing the spirit bears in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest after she moved to Vancouver five years ago. 

“I am totally fascinated by this complex ecosystem where everything is interconnected and I feel deeply grateful to be among the few people who have been privileged to see and photograph it,” she said. 

She said her guide called this sleeping bear Mushroom, because it liked to get “high on mushrooms,” she said with a laugh. 

Spirit bear

“It was the end of the day, the light was really slow and the bear decided to take a nap,” she said.

“So we got really close, so close that I could hear him breathing. The bear didn’t care but would take a peek at us.”

The federal government recently rejected the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, but that wasn’t the case when Gilardini snapped this photo. 

“As environmental photographers, it is our duty to capture the beauty of places and species at risk and raise awareness trough the universal power of the  images we capture.”

Are you snapping photos of B.C. for Instagram? Tag your photos #cbcvancouver to share your photos with us and be featured potentially on our Instagram.

Instagram takeover: A wintry escape with Daisy Gilardini – British Columbia – CBC News.

Source: Instagram takeover: A wintry escape with Daisy Gilardini – British Columbia – CBC News

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