When Camille Seaman speaks about the power of nature and its relationship to humanity, she is talking about ideas passed on to her in childhood.
The daughter of a Native American father and African-American mother, she was brought up to respect her environment. That discipline has rubbed off, with much of her work over the last 20 years reflecting the dual power and fragility of the natural world.
“We, as humans, can’t do what we want without consequences to nature,” she says. “That’s the way I was raised.”
Seaman began taking pictures after her high school gave her a camera to help channel her adolescent anger. But it wasn’t until her early 30s, when she was mentored by Steve McCurry HonFRPS on a trip to Tibet, that she realised photography could become her life.
Now, she is a TED senior fellow whose work has been published in international titles including TIME and National Geographic.
Here she selects two images that make her most proud – and explains why she is in awe of the light.
Tabular iceberg at dawn on the solstice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, December 2021 (main image, above)
“The ship is moving along and the light keeps changing. It’s amazing how many colours it goes through. On this side of the ship, it was orange and pinks and purples, and on the other side it was reds and blues. It was amazing. You don’t ever think the sea can be tangerine orange. Sometimes in the Arctic and Antarctic you question your sanity, the idea of being awake or dreaming, and even reality itself. In moments like this sunrise, you just can’t believe your eyes. In the windless stillness, as we glide silently past massive icebergs’ flawless mirror reflections, you don’t dare close your eyes or blink. Every second is spectacular.”
The Great Downpour, Bertha, Minnesota, June 2014
“You can tell I’m using a very wide-angle lens, because the pole for the water tower in the town is at an angle, but sometimes it’s the only way to fit the clouds into the frame. I just wanted to show what a proper downpour looks like, how powerful it is when it just dumps rain. It looks like a weird jellyfish. To be on the ground, it smells amazing – that smell right before it rains in the summer. It’s much warmer than people would imagine. Sometimes there’s thunder and lightning. It’s quite theatrical. Sometimes when people see images like this, they express how afraid they’d be in that situation. I never felt fear, only awe and respect. I respect that a piece of hail might do damage to me or our vehicle. I am in awe of the light, size and structure of the storm I am witnessing.”
Discover more of Camille Seaman’s ‘Best shots’ in the July/August issue of the RPS Journal.
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