Transcript

Judy Woodruff: Camille Seaman is a photographer who has been documenting climate change in the polar regions.

Over the years, she has witnessed firsthand the drastic effects of climate change, and says she hopes to merge the realms of art and science in order to get a message across: We only get this one Earth, and we must take care of it.

Tonight, she shares her Brief But Spectacular take on being a good ancestor.

Camille Seaman, Photographer: Art is not only important. It is necessary for us to communicate what is happening with our planet. Without art, I don’t think we will ever truly be able to communicate what climate change is.

I had an incredible childhood. Primarily, I spent time at my grandparents’ house. And my grandparents are of Shinnecock and Montaukett descent. And my grandfather especially thought it was very important for us to know that we were interconnected and interrelated with all beings.

As a small child, he would take me into the woods, and introduce me to each tree. And he said: “This is your relative, in the same that way that I am your relative. And you must respect it.”

When I saw my very first iceberg in Antarctica in 2004, I remember just shaking, because I was thinking, how many snowflakes is this? How many ancestors’ water is this? And so when I photographed them, I am literally photographing the water of my ancestors, as if I am making a portrait of my ancestors.

I feel that a photograph is not successful if it’s only giving you information, without helping you to feel something. If you look at one of my photographs and feel nothing I have failed. I look at the glaciers that I have photographed, for example, in Antarctica. And those glaciers look crumbly, unwell, unsafe.

The climate change that I have witnessed in my now 20 years of visiting the polar regions is shocking. I hope that humans will realize that we are of this Earth. We only get this one. And, one day, we will realize just how special it is.

I just hope it’s not after we have lost so much of what makes it special.

My name is Camille Seaman, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on being a good ancestor.

Judy Woodruff: Spectacular photography. What a powerful message.

And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.