"All these years I thought I was just photographing one incredibly beautiful part of our planet - until I realized that I was photographing what we have lost. -Camille Seaman
For ten years Camille Seaman has documented the rapidly changing landscapes of Earth's polar regions. As an expedition photographer aboard small ships in the Arctic and Antarctic, she has chronicled the accelerating effects of global warming on the jagged face of nearly fifty thousand icebergs. Seaman's unique perspective of the landscape is entwined with her Native American upbringing: she sees no two icebergs as alike; each responds to its environment uniquely, almost as if they were living beings. Through Seaman's lens, each towering chunk of ice—breathtakingly beautiful in layers of smoky gray and turquoise blue—takes on a distinct personality, giving her work the feel of majestic portraiture. Melting Away collects seventy-five of Seaman's most captivating photographs. Her life-affirming images express the ephemeral beauty we have already lost, but more importantly what we still have that is worth fighting to save.
Camille Seaman was born in 1969 to a Native American (Shinnecock tribe) father and African American mother. She graduated in 1992 from the State University of New York at Purchase, where she studied photography with Jan Groover and has since taken master workshops with Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado, and Paul Fusco. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic Magazine, Italian Geo, German GEO, TIME, The New York Times Sunday magazine, Newsweek, Outside, Zeit Wissen, Men's Journal, Seed, Camera Arts, Issues, PDN, and American Photo among many others. She frequently leads photographic and self-publishing workshops. Her photographs have received many awards including: a National Geographic Award, 2006; and the Critical Mass Top Monograph Award, 2007. In 2008 she was honored with a one-person exhibition, “The Last Iceberg” at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC. Camille Seaman lives in Emeryville, California, and takes photographs all over the world using digital and film cameras in multiple formats. She works in a documentary/fine art tradition and since 2003 has concentrated on the fragile environment of the Polar Regions.
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The Lemaire Sunset
It was only just over 100 years ago that explorers (all men) toiled their way to achieve the Poles both North and South. My photographic project comes at a critical time, having spent over a decade working as expedition photographer on small ships in both the Arctic and Antarctic for many months at a time I have documented what can only be described as the “Melting Away”.
My perspective may be due to the fact that I am a Shinnecock Indian or perhaps it is influenced by the fact that I am a mother, what ever the case my aesthetic tends towards traditional, elegant and visually well informed approach. It is important to me personally that the work communicates sensitive and emotional portraits of these parts of our planet.
The work spans from June 2003 to August 2011, and covers areas in the Arctic such as Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic as well as various locations in Antarctica, and the Sub Antarctic Islands.
In my continuation of exploring subjects in nature that have an ability to illustrate the interconnection of all life on Earth I found myself stalking a type of single giant cloud called a Supercell.
The following images were made in 2008- 2014 in the Great Plains states of the USA.
The storms we were chasing were Supercells, capable of producing grapefruit sized hail, and spectacular tornadoes; they were 50 miles wide and reached as high as 65,000 ft. into the atmosphere. These clouds were so large that they had the capability of blocking all daylight, making it very dark and ominous standing under them.
Hybrid: In Between Two Worlds - Chapter One: Aqutaq
The thread that ties all of my photographic projects together is my desire to create images that articulate that humans are not separate from nature and that everything is interconnected, inter-related.
In California, the wolf has been hunted to extinction, and to have again wild wolves in our mountains is strange, wondrous, and for some threatening. OR-7 is the first wolf to migrate into California in decades, having initially crossed the Oregon border in 2012. I am deeply concerned and also fascinated, by practices in our society that demonize this animal, yet romanticize it at the same time. The wolf is a demon to the ranchers who believe it to be seriously and constantly hungry, an angel to the city dwellers who hear his voice as the Call of the Wild. With less than 6,000 wolves roaming wild in the lower 48 states, the dynamics between human/wolf relationship is as complex and politically charged as ever. Scientists agree that top predators such as the wolf are essential to healthy ecosystems while efforts continue to delist and regulate the remnants of existing wolf populations. However it is not the wild wolf I am pursuing with this project.
Human fascination with wolves has created a subculture of people who own wolves as pets. Owning wild animals as pets is a global phenomenon. Unfortunately many of these animals either end up euthanized or in wolf sanctuaries.
The Last Iceberg is one piece of a larger project entitled “Melting Away” which documents the polar regions of our planet, their environments, life forms, history of human exploration and the communities that work and live there.
Nick Cave once sang, “All things move toward their end.” Icebergs give the impression of doing just that, in their individual way much as humans do; they have been created of unique conditions and shaped by their environments to live a brief life in a manner solely their own. Some go the distance traveling for many years slowly being eroded by time and the elements; others get snagged on the rocks and are whittled away by persistent currents. Still others dramatically collapse in fits of passion and fury. The Last Iceberg chronicles just a handful of the many thousands of icebergs that are currently headed to their end.
I approach the images of icebergs as portraits of individuals, much like family photos of my ancestors. I seek a moment in their life in which they convey their unique personality, some connection to our own experience and a glimpse of their soul which endures.
These images were made in both the Arctic regions of Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica.