Photo by Joe Santa, Corbis

Photo by Joe Santa, Corbis


Presenter, 2012

“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.” —Camille Seaman

Camille Seaman’s photographs exude the raw power of the natural world: icebergs rise up from the sea, rough-hewn and gigantic; storm clouds thunder across golden farmlands in middle America. Yet, whether she’s photographing environmental wonders or indigenous cultures around the world, an underlying theme of connection pervades her work. Seaman grew up as part of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in a small village outside Long Island, New York. She says she was taught at a young age that everything is connected, specifically humans and their environment, and that it is impossible to be an individual on this planet. Her photographs are rooted in this idea—and they raise important questions about what people can do to protect the planet.

Seaman captures images that are dramatic and at times ominous, says guest curator David Griffin. “She made storm clouds and icebergs into living, breathing things.” Seaman has said her iceberg photographs are like portraits of ancestors, each with a unique personality. Smoky gray and hazy blue, majestic and monolithic, her subjects are a testament to both the beauty and fragility of the earth. Most of the polar ice in her earlier photographs has now either broken apart or melted into the sea. She is fond of quoting a Nick Cave song: “All things move toward their end.” In other words, everything is in a constant state of transformation.

Born in 1969, Seaman has published photographs in National Geographic magazine, Italian GEO, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Outside, and many others. She has received a National Geographic Award (2006) and the Critical Mass Top Monograph Book Award (2007). In 2008, she was honored with a one-person exhibition, The Last Iceberg, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. She was a TED Fellow in 2011.