Expedition travel is filled with all kinds of thrilling activities—navigating through knee-deep snow in Antarctica, mucking through Alaska’s muskegs, trekking up trails to spectacular views in Galápagos, racing a pod of dolphins in a Zodiac. Now imagine doing all of that while hauling 20 pounds of video equipment and often walking backwards! That’s just a normal day’s work for Sarah Culler. She masterfully pulls off this feat on a regular basis as a Video Chronicler (VC) aboard our National Geographic-flagged ships.
While guests are immersed in the adventure Sarah is close at hand recording it all—and doing whatever it takes to not miss a thing. But that’s not all. Any moment not spent filming ashore or swiftly running to the ship’s deck, camera in tow, for the latest wildlife sighting, Sarah is back in her cabin hard at work editing. Over the course of one voyage (sometimes that’s just 6 or 7 days) she produces a stunning 45-minute voyage video. She weeds through hours of footage searching for just the right shots; selects background music from a library of options; creates on-screen graphics; interviews naturalists and guests for fun and informative quotes; and cuts it all together to expertly capture the essence of each expedition.
Sarah realized the creative potential of video during a photojournalism study abroad program in Scotland, where she photographed the country’s iconic Highland Games. Today Sarah films around the world with Lindblad, exploring our many destinations through her lens. On one fortuitous voyage she happened to be aboard the same time as the Jeopardy! Clue Crew and got the incredible opportunity to film them on location in Antarctica. Filming clues on expedition is no easy task: both Sarah and the Clue Crew need to be ready at a moment’s notice to capture the action they need to highlight—whether it’s bubble-netting humpbacks, tobogganing penguins, or calving glaciers.
But despite the challenge Sarah pulled it off on the first try. “It was a magical partnership right from the beginning,” says Deb Dittmann, senior producer for Jeopardy! “Sarah immediately got what we needed to do, and her timing was perfect. She’s just a natural. Plus, she’s super fun, energetic and always so kind. We couldn’t have asked for anybody better.” From that voyage on Sarah served as the main VC for Jeopardy!, filming hundreds of clues over the years.
As one of only a few female VCs, Sarah more than holds her own in this high-stress, physically demanding, male-dominated field. Defying gender boundaries is something she’s been doing from a young age (after putting up a fight she was the first girl to play baseball in her town!) and she’s never let anyone keep her from succeeding at the goals she set for herself. For all this and much more we salute this talented, genuine, and determined filmmaker.
Why do you explore?
I explore because discovering new things gives me a sense of my place in the world and how we’re all connected.
What is your favorite Lindblad destination?
Hands down, South Georgia. I love the adventure of getting there as well as the immense amount of wildlife and stunning scenery.
What is the dream exploration you haven’t done…yet?
I’d love to go to outer space.
Name a female hero(es) and why?
Sally Ride was my hero as a little girl because she was the first American female astronaut to go to outer space. At that time in my life I was told I couldn’t do certain things, like play T-ball, because I was a girl. That was only for boys. Sally Ride inspired me and showed the world that women can do what men do. I looked up to her and even sent her a handwritten letter in the third grade. In return I was sent a larger envelope full of 8x10 photographs. One was even signed by her.
My other hero is my mom because she encouraged me to follow my heart and do what I wanted. She was the one who stood up to all the fathers and fought for me to play T-ball. Subsequently, I was the first girl to play baseball in my hometown.
What’s your advice for the next generation of women explorers?
Girls can do everything boys do and don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t.”
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have a serious fear of birds but oddly enjoy filming them.
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