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Interview with Daisy Gilardini

Daisy Gilardini
Daisy Gilardini

Daisy is a freelance photographer and contributor to leading publications on travel and nature.
She published her first book in 2010 and her work has won awards in numerous international photography competitions.
Born in Switzerland, she now lives in Vancouver. She is a tireless explorer and spends a large proportion of her time in the Arctic and Antarctic, photographing the landscape and wildlife of these remote regions.

Here, she talks to us at MsoX.

Let’s talk about wildlife photography: how important is it to conservation? What does it mean to you?

I’m a member of the ILCP (International League of Conservation Photographers).
Our mission is to promote environmental and cultural conservation and increase awareness on the subject.
It is our job to capture in images the wonders of the endangered natural world and to use these images to spread messages about their protection.

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Emperor Penguin chick Aptenodytes forsteri October 2006

You love travelling in the Arctic and Antarctic: where does this passion come from?

This attraction is almost an addiction, an obsession, for me.
Extreme adventure takes the place of ordinary daily life. The unforgiving and harsh environmental conditions of the Polar Regions have the power to revive the most primitive instincts, reawakening our innate ability to adapt and survive.
I feel in harmony with the surrounding fragile ecosystem.

You work in extreme environments: how do you prepare yourself, in terms of organisation and equipment?

I usually start to organise and prepare for my expeditions at least a year in advance, so as not to compromise the quality of my work. Every detail requires a good deal of thought and consideration.

How important is the ethological aspect and how does it influence the way you photograph?

In order to photograph animals successfully, you absolutely must have in-depth knowledge of the subject. It’s the only way to be able to predict their behaviour and anticipate their actions.

Heart shaped iceberg

Do you have any preferences in terms of composition? Can you give us some examples?

With both animals and landscapes, I always focus on the composition with the aim of generating emotion by simplifying the form. The ‘magic word’ is simplicity, and here I can quote two of my favourite aphorisms:

“Simplicity is nature’s first step, and the last of art.” (Philip James Bailey)
“There is nothing quite so complicated as simplicity.” (Charles Poore).

When you are faced with a subject, do you tend to experiment with different compositions?

I always advise my students to ‘work’ their subject; by this, I mean making continuous changes in position, angle of view and type of lens.

Do you have any preferences in terms of equipment and accessories, based on your photography style?

The equipment is important but the camera isn’t everything. There is no technology better than patience, a sense of observation and ability in design and composition.

At the moment of taking the picture, do you take into any consideration the possibility of making subtle alterations to the photograph in the retouching phase?

I try to keep photo retouching to a minimum: slight cropping and basic conversion of my RAW files. My motto is: it’s better to do it right when you take the picture than to try to repair an image in post-production, sitting in front of a computer.

Are there any photographic projects for 2014?

I’m preparing a travelling exhibition, conferences and a book on the bears of North America (polar bear, black bear, brown bear and Kermode bear).
As for travelling, I will be going to Botswana in May, the Svalbard Islands in July, and I will be back in the Antarctic for November/December.

Where to find Daisy Gilardini online: daisygilardini.com

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