Photographer Interview: Camille Seaman
One day I’ll get to curate my own photography show and photographer Camille Seaman‘s breathtaking landscapes will definitely be on the walls. Last year I discovered Seaman’s work through her SilberStudios TV video interview where she discusses her lighting techniques and more.
Having been raised among the Native American Shinnecock tribe, in the interview Seaman says her work is very much about her life and family ancestry. Although she got somewhat of a late start going pro, this fine art photographer has had an impressive career and was recently named a 2011 TED Fellow.
Where are you from?
I was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York.
What kind of photography do you shoot and how did you get started – any “formal” training?
I am considered a fine art/documentary photographer. I always made photographs ever since I was a small child but it wasn’t until I was 32 years old that I knew I wanted to professionally pursue photography.
I had fine arts training along with extensive art history as well as “special” photography education which meant learning the hard way and teaching myself by trial and error until I was ready to approach my heros, asking them to teach me their skills.
What cameras or techniques do you use?
I use many cameras and formats, I like to think of my cameras as tools… different tools work for different jobs.
Who are your mentors (in photography)?
I have been fortunate enough to learn personally from the following although I consider everyone and everything an influence: Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado, Eli Reed, Jan Groover, Donovan Wylie and Paul Fusco as as well as Teru Kuwayama, Eros Hoagland and Omar Mullick.
Have you experienced any setbacks or different treatment along your photography career that you would attribute to being a woman and/or photographer of color? (this question is optional)
None at all. If anything I found more opportunity.
|Copyright Camille Seaman|
When did you realize you could have a career in photography? Describe your journey towards becoming a working photographer.
It was like a switch turned on, and I knew this thing I would do at the age of 32. I set yearly targets or goals and this made it much less daunting. I entered contests to see what images the public liked versus my own eye. I learned not to fall in love with my own work but to listen to those who saw the work, took their criticisms as words of growth and dismissed their kind words as ego building.
I reached out in the directions I wanted to go towards and things began to happen. “It is a marathon not a sprint.” Keeping mantras like this prevents me from burning out or losing my passion.
What do you hope to achieve with your photography?
My main goal is to allow a viewer to feel or see something they may not ever had considered in regards to our amazing life and our amazing home on this planet. You will not save something you feel no connection to.
|Copyright Camille Seaman|
What’s your dream photography project?
To be permanently funded in a meaningful way to continue to document explore and share our world with as wide an audience as possible.
What’s the biggest (life) lesson you’ve learned through photography?
That anything is indeed possible. If you think it you can make it real. Just think positive and learn to curb your negative thinking.
Dodge & Burn is a blog dedicated to documenting a more inclusive history of photography and supporting the work of photographers of color with photographer interviews.
This blog is published by visual artist and writer, Qiana Mestrich. For regular updates on diversity in photography history, follow Qiana on Twitter @mestrich, Like the Dodge & Burn Blog page on Facebook or subscribe to Dodge & Burn by email.
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I enjoyed your interview very much. I was just thinking today, "where am i going with my photography..?" .. on the negative side. I am a very positive person and i will never give up on my photography, but sometimes those negative days creep in… and it just so happened that i read your story on one of those days. Thank You! it makes me realize that i have a long way to go and keep my head up!
"If you don't ask…"
I went on workshops with some, took master classes with others, others I just contacted directly and asked them if they could share with me.
Not all photographers are open and giving, but usually the really great ones are, they don't feel threatened and if you ask politely, and have realistic expectations, clear goals etc. you can learn a great deal.
Thanks for being a Dodge & Burn reader, Tiffany! I totally agree with you, Camille's story is inspiring and full of hope.
I can't thank you enough Camille for sharing your experience, it's brought a ray of hope back into my heart. Being in my early 30's and finally making the decision to pursue photography as a career has been exhilarating and exhausting (as I still need to work a day job full time); so when I read "marathon not a sprint" it helped immensely. And you're right, "If you can dream it, you can do it", keeping a positive attitude is key, learning not to fall in love with your own work, taking criticism as a valuable learning experience and not getting caught up in compliments… all of this is invaluable advice. One thing that I would like to ask, is you stated you were able to learn personally with a number of mentors; did you contact them personally asking them if they would mentor you?
Again, thank you for your invaluable advice and for your lovely images. Thank you Qiana Mestrich for a wonderful interview!