Camille Seaman, Photographer:
Art itself is not important. It is important for us to communicate what is happening with our planet. Without art, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to truly explain what climate change is.
I had an incredible childhood. Mainly, I spent time at my grandparents’ house. And my grandparents are of Shinnecock and Montauk ancestry. And my grandfather especially thought that it was very important for us to know that we are interconnected and interconnected with all beings.
As a small child, he would take me to the forest, and introduce me to every tree. And he said: “This is your relative, in the same way I am your relative. And you must respect that.”
When I saw my first iceberg in Antarctica in 2004, I remembered that I was shaking, because I was thinking, How many icebergs is that? How many ancestors is this water? And so when I photograph them, I am literally photographing the waters of my ancestors, just as I am drawing a picture of my ancestors.
I think a picture isn’t successful if it’s just giving you information, without helping you feel something. If you look at a picture of me and don’t feel anything, I have failed. I see glaciers that I have photographed, for example, in Antarctica. And those glaciers look crooked, unhealthy, unsafe.
The climate change I have witnessed in my now 20 years of visiting the polar regions is astounding. I hope humans will realize that we belong to this earth. That’s all we get. And, one day, we’ll realize how special it is.
I hope it is not when we have lost a lot that makes it special.
My name is Camille Seaman, and it’s brief but brilliant being a good ancestor of mine.