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Exploring Canada

Q&A with Daisy Gilardini, Award-Winning Conservation Photographer

polar bear in the arctic wilderness
polar bear in the arctic wilderness

Mediaplanet sat down with Daisy Gilardini, a conservation photographer with an interest in Antarctic wildlife and North American bears. 

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What inspired you to be a conservation photographer?

Driven by my desire to spend time in the wilderness, I started my journey in photography, capturing the aesthetic beauty of wild animals. I soon realized though that these animals and their ecosystems face unprecedented challenges and need help.

Photography is not just an art form. It’s one of the most powerful and important mediums of communication we have. It’s a universal language which is understood by everyone, regardless of colour, creed, nationality, and culture.

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What do you look for in an impactful picture?

I believe in the power of beautiful imagery to stir emotions and touch people’s hearts, all the while delivering messages about the environment. 

“I believe the world will be saved by beauty,” states Prince Myshkin, the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot.

The digital age, together with social media, has opened the door for conservation photographers and scientists to a greater degree than ever before. Technology and internet platforms now allow us to reach more people, in more places, faster, more efficiently and effectively, than at any time in human history. We’re living in the information age. And while problems such as climate change, pollution, and environmental decline might seem insurmountable, we’re better poised than at any time in history to spread the message of hope and renewal.

As conservation photographers, it’s our duty to capture the beauty of places and species that are at risk and raise awareness through the universal power of the images we capture.

While science provides the data necessary to explain issues and propose solutions, photography symbolizes these issues. Science is the brain, while photography is the heart. We need both to reach people’s hearts and minds, in order to move them to action. 

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What is your favourite place that you have visited in Canada?

This is an easy question. Without a doubt, it’s the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba. I simply love polar bears and over the past 20 years, I’ve spent countless hours photographing them in Canada. 

Sharing images of conservation flagship species such as polar bears, when coupled with informative and educational text and targeted messaging, helps people connect on an emotional level and act upon a much greater and intangible concept like climate change.

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Any tips on what readers should keep in mind when exploring Canada and the outdoors? 

With the advent of digital and smartphones, wildlife and nature photography has become very popular. Please keep in mind that there is no selfie worth jeopardizing the life of an animal or a pristine place. Pay respect to the environment you are visiting and its inhabitants. Don’t feed wildlife and leave no trace behind you.

Should you wish to join me in photographing polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, I have a few spots available for my October workshops!

Daisy Gilardini
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