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There's A Storm Coming

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Camille Seaman
November 9, 2018

Winner of a National Geographic award for photography, Camille Seaman merges the worlds of art and science, using her photography to examine pressing issues from climate change to the implications of nature on our lives.

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Although her fascination with nature began with its beauty, it has become something substantially more thoughtful. After visiting Alaska and Antarctica, Seaman was mesmerised by the rugged and unforgiving landscapes. There's very little life in these places, but incidentally, also so much.


As she began spending more time around the ice formations and stark landscapes, she collected her images into a book titled Melting Away. The books title, and the contents, refer to what is here now, but also what was and what eventually will not be any longer. It's a dramatic collection of images that holds a dual role of documenting something important, but also in a way that will encapsulate the audience with its sweeping natural intensity.

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Now her attention has turned to the formation of storm clouds in her newest collection, The Big Cloud. The idea came to her whilst watching Storm Chasers with her young daughter who suggested that it would be cool for her mum to do. Her mum thought it would be cool too.


Seaman then became a 'storm-chaser', which is a tag given to people enthused by watching the ferocity of nature unfold. Some people capture it on film, photo or otherwise are there for the exhilarating experience. Of course, scientific investigation is also a crucial part of this movement of people and it seems that this piqued the photographer's interest.


The book includes reflections on the images, the feelings they evoked and the experiences of being a 'storm-chaser'. Many of the shots are in the rural U.S. and are evocative not just of the natural, but of the supernatural. The clouds hang in the sky like omens and sometimes, they are. She said, “Sometimes as we pulled into a local fuel station, we would be met with superstitious folks who were not glad to see us; some of those people had lost their homes or loved ones in storms."

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The opportunity granted Seaman the chance to reflect upon her own role in the process. She was aware of the beauty of such things, yet also aware of their vast destructive capabilities.


"It taught me great empathy and compassion. It was important that our chasing storms not become some sort of disaster tourism." Her concerns are valid. These lives are real and they have been dramatically altered by the continual spectre of a violent storm. Her work is also necessary. It's not just a balanced insight - it's a way to draw people's attention from sanitised depictions that can seem so distant, to a contextualised exploration that allows us to reconcile our own relationship with a constantly changing natural world.

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