Camille Seaman on Taking Photos and Taking Risks
By Emily Williams
Photographer Camille Seaman’s daughter was watching Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel one day, when Camille stopped what she was doing to admire the storm’s light.
Her daughter noticed her and said, “Mom, you should do that!”
Three days later, she was.
Camille’s documentary-style photographs reflect some of nature’s most breathtaking phenomena. Aside from storm chasing, her work has taken her to both Polar Regions. The resulting photos can be seen in her book The Last Iceberg.
In addition to receiving many awards, Camille has shown her work at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC and at the 2011 TED Conference.
Recently, we were lucky enough to have her share her work with us. During her talk, you could hear the collective gasps coming from the audience, which is an especially impressive feat for 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. But if you take a look at the photographs, you’ll see the reason for our amazement.
Nancy sat down to talk with Camille after her presentation:
Nancy: I love how you capture the beauty and the magnitude of storms because sometimes we only see the destruction. What was your inspiration for showing this side of the storm?
Camille: I think everything has two sides. The creation aspect of these storms is really undervalued and overlooked. The reason that we have such fertile Great Plains is because we have these storms. You can’t have one without the other.
It’s the same with the Polar Regions. We have this wonderful temperate zone because we have these two Polar Regions. You take that away, and things are going to get crazy. I’m really trying to show people, to look at things from a different perspective.
Nancy: Your photography is almost spiritual in some ways. I was curious what makes you want to capture the emotion of these huge natural phenomena?
Camille: I think probably because I allow myself to feel it before I photograph it. It’s very important for me personally that someone feel what I felt, not just see what I saw. A photograph has not achieved its point if somebody doesn’t feel something.
Nancy: Your work sounds very dangerous, is it?
Camille: I think it could be. I’m not a reckless person, and I think everything can be responsibly done. I try to be as safe as I can in everything that I do. I think a lot of people wouldn’t do what I want to do because they have some fear that something is going to happen. I have some hope that something is going to happen.
Nancy: You’re so busy, successful and adventurous. What’s it like to be a mom and be so dedicated to producing amazing work?
Camille: I think it’s really important for my daughter to know that being a mother does not negate the necessity for her to live her purpose, to follow her dreams, or to do what she feels is important. In fact, it amplifies it. Being a mother really made me want to stand up and say, “I cannot leave this planet in the shape that it is for my child.” She’s, in many ways, been the inspiration.
Nancy: So, you’re a TED Fellow. I’ve heard that everyone’s life changes after TED. How has your life changed?
Camille: What TED really did for me was make me feel valid and recognized in a way that nothing else has to this point. With that, I think, comes an ability to be more fearless, more able and willing to say, “I’m going to do it.”
Camille’s prints are available through galleries in major cities.
Influencing, Leadership, Visual thinking