We all love the beauty and power of the images taken by professional nature photographers, but what about the backstories? Turns out how they get their photos is the real story!

Image: Leopard seals and penguins

Source: ravas51 // Flickr

Today in our EWC Saturdays Around the World article, we will transport you to an icy blue and white landscape where Antarctica meets the sea. There, we will learn how emperor penguins are using physics to out-maneuver the highly misunderstood leopard seal.

We will introduce you to the remarkable work of Paul Nicklen, National Geographic photographer and master communicator about that ice-bound wilderness.

I have watched a lot of speakers tell their stories and I don’t know if I have ever seen someone speak more compellingly about their passions. Paul is so authentic that at one pivotal part of his story, he is almost moved to tears.

Combine that heartfelt zeal with the ridiculously surprising discoveries they made on their trip and you have a combination that is unbeatable.

We’ll start today’s Antarctic journey with one of the most extraordinary stories from Nicklen’s Antarctic experiences. This one never ceases to amaze me. In a delightful way, it forces us to question all we think we know about the emotional intentions of animals!

See how you get a photo like the one we opened with today, brought to us by National Geographic!

National Geographic is doing, supporting, and highlighting some truly amazing things in this world. Their content is brilliant, innovative, and leaves you in awe. Make sure to take some time out of your day to check them out. You won’t regret it!

Fascinating, huh!? But it left me with so many questions!

Fortunately, there’s much more to this story and Paul Nicklen has given a Nat Geo Live talk where he will fill us in on the backstory. Best of all, shares a few amazing discoveries with us that are fresh from his experiences.

Unbelievable thrills and spills in this next National Geographic video.

Get a comfortable chair and totally enjoy this one!

Magical, huh?

That piece always leaves me surprisingly mute, even after the fourth watch.

There’s just so much wonder there: the science, beauty, the emotion!

When Paul tells the story of finding himself laying on the wet ice, dazed, back-to-back with a 600 pound (272 kg) leopard seal, and yet has compassion for how frightened the seal must be, I am transfixed.

When Paul tells of being moved to tears of gratitude in his tent the first night, with the teenage emperor penguins leaning against the tent, I tear up a little there, too.

When Paul mentions how his videographer, Goran Ehlme, inspired him to finally get into the water, and Paul is so humbled by his emotions that he tears up, I tear up too, every time.

I love that quote from Goran:

“We Must Solve This Seal. Of course, we are not finished. We must continue!”

Maybe that’s the attitude that we all need when we face a situation that demands we persevere.

There’s more here than leopard seals and penguins

You can see more of Paul’s remarkable work at his website at PaulNicklen.com.  And if you feel a connection to Paul’s passion for conservation, please visit the website called Sea Legacy.

Paul and his partner Cristina Mittermeier, founded SeaLegacy to change the narrative around our world’s oceans and show the global community what is at stake, rally soldiers of support—and ignite real and lasting change. Watch the video on the page we are linking you to at Sea Legacy and you will learn about the work of many amazing people.

Thank you for stopping by Ever Widening Circles. We are here to point you to insightful and innovative content every day! We publish one carefully fact-checked article every other day – on anything under the sun – to demonstrate this is still an amazing world.

Paul Nicklen’s work surely qualifies!

Stay curious, open and optimistic!

~ Dr. Lynda

Want to continue this train of thought?

If you want to go directly to an article that I consider one of the best-hidden gems on this website,  kick back and listen to one of the favorite pieces we’ve featured!

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A Photographer’s Life Changing Stories

Photographers bring the world to our living rooms and have witnessed much of life on this planet. Here are two stories that changed one photographer's life, and the lessons they taught him...

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  1. Nicklen, Paul. “Face-to-Face with a Leopard Seal | Nat Geo Live.” YouTube. National Geographic, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmVWGvO8Yhk>.
  2. Nicklen, Paul. “Paul Nicklen: Emperors of the Ice | Nat Geo Live.” YouTube. National Geographic, 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr4d2FfivA4>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast--new episodes every Wednesday!