Sue Flood is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, zoologist, adventure travel leader and public speaker. Her work takes her all over the world, but she has a special passion for the wildlife and icy beauty of the Polar regions and is one of the very few women professional photographers who returns again and again to Earth’s harshest and most demanding environments.
How did your photography and film making begin?
When I was growing up in North Wales, I was hugely inspired by David Attenborough’s wonderful wildlife documentaries on the BBC - Life on Earth, The Living Planet, Trials of Life and others. It seemed like the perfect career for someone who loved photography, wildlife and (the thought of) travelling the world! I decided to do all I could to try to land my dream job!
I studied Zoology and Durham University and applied for Operation Raleigh (now, Raleigh International). This was a life-changing adventure just after I’d graduated and led to me spending several months volunteering for the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia, including diving surveys on the Great Barrier Reef. I eventually qualified as a dive instructor and went on to volunteer with a team from the Mary Rose Trust, who were excavating a shipwreck in Bermuda. All useful experience which helped me get my foot in the door at the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. First, I started as a researcher on the Attenborough series “Wildlife on One” then got my big break on The Blue Planet and was eventually promoted to Assistant Producer. This series changed my life. I was working with some brilliant cameraman who were also excellent stills photographers, which helped improve my photography. When my images started being published and then made the covers of various magazines, I decided to make the momentous decision to leave the BBC and see if I could make it as a professional wildlife photographer and I’m happy to say that it was a great decision and I haven’t looked back. I now enjoy guiding people on wildlife photography trips around the world and will be teaching people closer to home in North Wales in the coming years.
Tell us about your expeditions in the polar regions.
Whilst I was working as a wildlife filmmaker at the BBC I was very fortunate to specialise in the polar regions and I have visited the Arctic and Antarctic numerous times over the past 25 years. Particular highlights include spending time on the floe edge in the Canadian high Arctic with Inuit hunters, working on a Russian icebreaker, diving in the Arctic with beluga whales and narwhals, and joining French cruise company Ponant as their photo ambassador and helping guests with their photography in the polar regions. In December I had the incredible experience of camping in the Antarctic with emperor penguins! I have been lucky to work with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions twice in the Weddell Sea with emperor penguins and it’s a huge privilege to spend time in the colony.
Emperor penguin family at Gould Bay colony in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. November 2021
What is your preferred Muck Boot style?
As I’m usually working in the cold, I do love Muck Boot’s cold weather options. When it’s particularly cold, my Arctic Sport Muck Boots are brilliant, and I’ve even worn them at the North Pole! More recently, I was very happy to wear the Nomadic in the Antarctic. The Nomadic is a lighter weight boot, yet still toasty and waterproof.
Emperor penguins in the Weddell Sea. I carefully sat down on the snow some distance from the adult emperor penguin and chick. Suddenly I looked down and spotted the adult on its own! They are very curious creatures and this one slowly walked past me and on towards the rest of the colony, giving me the opportunity to photograph my Nomadic boots and a penguin in the Antarctic!
Sue Flood at North Pole with friends, next to Le Commandant Charcot - the first French ship to reach the North Pole in September 2021.