“The true power of images lies in their ability to emote.”  —Susan Seubert

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Susan Seubert is one of those lucky people who found her calling early on. She spent hours as a young girl thumbing through the pages of her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines, fascinated by the exotic places and striking images and thinking, “wouldn’t it be great to travel the world and take pictures?” So, when Susan got a call from the photo editor at National Geographic Traveler on April 1, 2004 she could barely believe it. “I thought for sure it was an April Fool’s joke, but it wasn’t,” she recalls. Since her first feature assignment, a coast-to-coast exploration of Canada, Susan has shot dozens more stories for the magazine—from profiling a surf school in Barbados and visiting an elephant rescue center in Thailand to exploring Sydney’s culinary scene.   

Since 2009 Susan has been sharing her vast expertise with Lindblad guests as part of our expedition photography program and she’s traveled aboard to many of our destinations including both polar regions. Below, she shares some of her favorite images captured on expedition, along with her thoughts on the moment. As you’ll see, what is central to all of Susan’s work, no matter her subject, is “giving a voice to beauty.”

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“We spotted this animal walking down the black beach at the end of Hornsund Fjord which is in southern Spitzbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. Ice and bears figure heavily in this area of the world, so it was wonderful to have this opportunity to photograph a bear next to a gigantic glacier. I waited for him to move into the dark area so that you could better see his reflection in the ocean.”

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“Being able to look a whale in the eye may be one of life’s greatest pleasures. This image was taken in Baja California in Bahia Magdalena and I feel like it captures the feeling of this moment—when the baby whale comes up to the boat, sticks its head up and looks at you, asking for a pet. It is truly a joyful moment and I wanted to not only photograph the whale, but also to capture the reaction of the people who were completely taken by this animal.”

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“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.  Emperor penguins are difficult to see up close, and a sighting of one is rare, so when we spotted a group of them on the fast ice about 2 miles away from where we could park the ship, the excitement was palpable.  I decided that I wanted to make a portrait of one of the penguins and my 400mm lens was perfect for this, although I was almost too close to make it work! When we arrived we all sat down to quietly observe. Then, I turned around and four more birds had come up behind us and were trying to figure out how to navigate around our group to join the other penguins. And these guys are huge—standing at about 4 feet tall. They ended up toboggan on their bellies around us, so close to me I could have easily touched them!”

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“We had spent the morning at Gold Harbour on the island of South Georgia and the weather was pretty typical—the sun and the rain traded off for most of our time at this landing. When this rainbow appeared and persisted for about an hour, it just added to the incredible scenery. I had wanted to make a photograph of the giant penguin colony that resides on the shoreline here, and the addition of a rainbow was amazing.”

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“Being on the Sea Cloud when it is under sail is delightful—the feeling of being carried by the wind, and the warm, Caribbean air is glorious. I wanted to try and capture an image of the sails, but also get a sense of scale, so when one of the deckhands was climbing down from the rigging, I laid on my back on deck and looked directly up, using the sails as a framing mechanism for the single man on the rope ladder. I thought that the bright sun might blow out in the image, but luckily it acted almost like a heavenly light, drawing your eye up along the sails into the big, blue sky.”

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“Photographing in the Galápagos can feel like cheating—the wildlife is just, well, there. Boobies are a favorite bird of mine because of their facial expression. This baby red-footed boobie was sitting on its nest, waiting for its parent to return with food. It clearly knew I was there and spent some time staring at me, and I stared back— what a wonderful moment with this beautiful and awkward-looking bird.”

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“One of the things that is unique to Antarctica is the light: under proper conditions, the play of light on icebergs is truly magical and this evening was no exception. We had glassy water conditions and as the sun dipped below the horizon, it lit the iceberg in the distance, turning it yellow, while the icebergs in the foreground were cast in the shadow of the nearby mountains, emphasizing out the blue color.”

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“I love birds, so having an opportunity to photograph these elegant terns at Isla Rasa in Baja was amazing. Motion can be difficult to capture in a still photograph, so when I noticed that the terns would take off and settle in these large flocks, I decided to wait until they all alighted at once to create the image.”

Find out when you can travel with Susan Seubert and learn more about our exclusive photography program.

 

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