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Photography and Nature: Camille Seaman at TED 2013

Advances in technology are at the heart of a lot of talks at this week’s TED Conference in Long Beach, California.

A lot, but nowhere near all.

When photographer Camille Seaman presented, everyone was taken very much out of the high-tech modern world, and immersed into vast and wild scenes of nature (see gallery above). Some (with icebergs) felt literally frozen in time. Others (with storm clouds) almost made you dizzy, as you sensed the epic swirl of a rapidly changing atmosphere.

One of her images appeared in the special “Water” issue of National Geographic magazine in April 2010.

In her talk, Camille mentioned that her sense of connection with nature stems from growing up in the Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island, and the influence of her grandfather. Speaking with her afterwards, I asked her about that influence, and I mentioned that what strikes me in her photography is the clarity of detail, and the way it seems she was aware of everything in the scene while taking the photo. Here’s what she had to say.

Separate From Nature?

“Recently I was really made aware that I see the world in a very different way and it is very much informed by how I was raised–all these things that my grandfather taught me as a small child.

“It is really a much more unified vision of all life on the planet. We were raised to know that none of your actions can go without a reaction; everything you do has an effect. So it’s a very holistic view of the world.

“My grandfather said something really poignant: ‘If you think you’re separate from nature, try holding your breath.'”


Learning to See

“Image-wise I would even credit my grandfather with teaching me how to see, because from about the age of 5 till he died when I was 13, every day–rain, snow, sun, it didn’t matter–we had to sit outside for an hour and just be still and observe.

“And then he would ask us, ‘What did you see?’

“He really taught you how to look for things, and see things. And then he would interpret. You’d say, ‘Well I saw the clouds had this weird kind of speckled pattern,’ and he’d say, ‘We call that a Mackerel sky and it means it’s going to rain within 24 hours.’

“Or you’d say, ‘I saw a spider building a web’ and he’d say, ‘That means no rain for about a week.’

“It was incredible.”

NEXT: Read All Nat Geo Blog Posts From TED 2013



Learn More

National Geographic Wallpapers

Camille Seaman Photography

Shinnecock Indian Nation


  1. Jessica
    February 28, 2013, 5:13 pm

    These are fabulous photos! Camille has done a fabulous job. These are pix that are rarely seen (by me) weather conditions.

  2. Hillary Treadwell
    February 28, 2013, 2:11 pm

    I am so very proud of my niece Camille Seaman and how her photograpy has brought attention to the weather changes and global warming. Camille keep up the good work.