I can’t believe it’s been a whole week, but LAST Thursday I went to a lecture that pretty much changed my life. It was a presentation by Camille Seaman , who is this really amazing photographer who likes to take pretty pictures of icebergs and storm clouds. TAKE THAT all you professors (who may or may not have been sitting with me during the event…) who said “pretty pictures” don’t make art! HA. Part of her artist statement was that she was motivated to become a photographer due to the aftermath of 9/11, all the news stories of the horror and war happening across the globe. She wanted to “do something” that would make a difference, and all she felt she had a talent for was taking “pretty pictures” to make people feel peaceful.
I have to say, her images are not merely pretty pictures of icebergs and polar scenes. They have a style and execution that invokes tranquility. They are truly magical, and I risk selling her short to simply call them “pretty.” Seeing her work, and hearing descriptions of her work might have been enough to get me really jazzed, but the stories behind the images put it over the top for me. She uses film. She also uses digital cameras, but some of her most haunting images were those taken with 120 panoramic cameras that she operated in -30 degree weather! There is an image of an iceberg that stands out in my mind, you will see it at 1 minute and 47 second in the Ted video from the link up above, where the captain of the ship actually turned around and swept by the iceberg again, because he’d seen her struggling on deck to change her roll of film, and missed her shot the first time. She knows what she is out to capture, she never shoots on pretty days with blue skys and puffy white clouds. She likes the stormy atmosphere. She allows the ice to glow on its own in a dark sea. I suppose it’s similar to Cartier-Bresson’s “moment” but in relation to landscape photography.
What struck me most about her stories, was her zeal for adventure. She could manage her fear well enough to step out onto an ice bridge, and walk up to the cliff of an ice shelf. She would sneak out on deck of the icebreaker ships she rode and take pictures during storms and blizzards. She travels back and forth from the north and south pole to do what she does, and visit places where so many explorers had died long ago. Now she photographs with a storm chaser, and rides in an SUV at unheard of speeds to take her, still zen-like, photographs of clouds and tornadoes and the landscape before destruction hits. I am so jealous of her lifestyle. I can’t wait to travel and take pictures and have the adventure to tell about.
She gave us some advice. She told us to walk. She said that was the natural pace to take in all of our surroundings. I guess I have to buy some walking shoes and start practicing.