Women Who Make Beautiful Things
Camille Seaman's photo series "The Last Iceberg," in which she documents massive chunks of prehistoric ice in locales around the world, began with a stroke of serendipity: an overbooked flight. In 1999 Seaman was asked to give up her seat on a packed airplane in exchange for a free round-trip ticket to any destination the carrier served. When she chose a ticket to Kotzebue, Alaska, a remote city northeast of the Bering Strait, she encountered a natural panorama so arresting it altered her view of the Earth: icebergs, some as big as Manhattan, floating in the frigid waters. "For the first time, I felt like I was standing on my planet," she says. Five years later, the single mother boarded an icebreaker ship bound for the Antarctic. With each passing sight—like icebergs that extended a thousand feet below the water's surface—Seaman's passion deepened. "A little light switch came on, and I thought, I'm going to photograph the hell out of this."
For seven years, Seaman made annual trips to the Arctic and Antarctica to shoot "portraits" of icebergs and glaciers—all of which are threatened by global warming. "These images are a record," she says; amid constant talk of climate change, "the pictures actually document what's occurring." Seaman has exhibited her work around the world, and the response has been tremendous. "I get e-mails every day," she says. "People say these images helped them see nature in a way they hadn't before. That's more than I could have hoped for."
Seaman feels that capturing these threatened natural wonders goes beyond artistic endeavor—it's her calling. "I didn't have a plan when I set out to make these pictures," she says. "I just opened myself up to the possibilities, and the universe pointed me to a way I could be of service."