Dramatic pictures of the Antarctic go on show


Award-winning photographer and wildlife filmmaker Sue Flood is displaying her passion for the North and South Poles in two ways today as her first book - "Cold Places" - is published and a solo exhibition of her pictures opens at the prestigious Getty Images Gallery in London.

Her work is a grand taste of the world at its Poles, encompassing dramatic shots of serene expanses of frozen terrain, alongside evocative pictures of the animals that live there and the men who make their living in such harsh conditions.

The exhibition is the fruit of 14 years as a Polar photographer, working both for the BBC and then as a freelancer, on huge series like Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Wildlife On One.

It's a tough existence: "I've spent four months per year of the last few years working Polar regions," she says.

"There are times when I question why I’m so drawn to the Poles - for instance, when camping in -40 degree temperatures, enduring the hardships of macho ice-breaker life or when my eyes won’t open because my eyelashes have frozen together. But there is something magical about the light, the isolation and the stillness, and something inspirational about how resolute animals and people have to be to survive there.

"Yes, the Poles are cold places but they also warm the heart, as I hope my book and images show.”

The 50 images on display are the cream of thousands of pictures taken on each trip. "You always know when you've got a good one, right when you press the trigger, but you can spend so much time just waiting for things to pan out - waiting for the right weather conditions, and for the wildlife to do what you want it to do. Some of my best shots have happened completely by accident, but you need a lot of luck and a lot of patience in this job.

"There are strict guidelines in place in the Antarctic about not getting too close to the animals, but if they come up to you it's different. It's when you sit down and the wildlife ignores those guidelines and approaches you that you get the best shots - as the picture on the cover of the book demonstrates.

"I've had some really close encounters, including once when I fell asleep on the ice waiting for a shot. I woke up to find a penguin chick had come right up to me and laid down beside me, resting its little wing on my hand. I'm very lucky to do this job.

"Like so many wildlife photographers, I used to watch David Attenborough as a kid, and he inspired me to do a Zoology degree. I then kept writing to the BBC wildlife unit until I assume they got tired of me and gave me a job in 1993."

It's not all cold climes, though: "I've just come back from two months in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Argentina, and I'm going to Borneo and Vietnam later in the year, so I occasionally get to warm up.

"This job certainly does get addictive."

'Cold Places - From Pole to Pole' runs at the Getty Gallery until 8 April. www.gettyimagesgallery.com. The exhibition is hosted by the global camera company Canon, a long-standing supporter of Sue’s work.

Sue's book "Cold Places" is published by New Sue Publishing, and is available from www.sueflood.com for £25.