Melting Away

A widely published and celebrated photographer, Camille Seaman has built a career on majestic portraiture. Over a 10-year period, she traveled to the poles as an expedition photographer to document the rapidly changing face of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In her new book Melting Away, Seaman offers a masterful series of 75 photos of beauty and historical significance, presented alongside accompanying essays, which evocatively reveal climate change at work.

In the opening pages, after the iconic photo of a “breaching” iceberg on the cover, past a few pages of stunning skies over stormy, metallic seas in which float masses of broken ice, Seaman describes watching a polar bear through her camera lens swim five miles to the nearest land spit. The diminishing amount of ice in Arctic regions, Seaman notes, means that polar bears like this one have little choice but to travel long distances to land in an effort to find food. Through her lens Seaman watches as the bear devours the young of several species of birds who had themselves traveled thousands of miles to nest, destroying a generation of gulls, auks and eider ducks. In that moment, something clicked for Seaman, and for once it wasn’t her camera lens. She saw the connectivity of things, and the heartbreaking consequences of climate change.

Now her readers can see them too. From a “sun-dimpled” iceberg on the melt to an intimate glimpse of a berg’s turquoise underside, from the Norwegian reindeer of South Georgia to the courtship of Gentoo Penguins, from the bleached symmetry of a whale bone to the occasional lone walrus or stranded polar bear, Seaman’s photos transform the polar landscapes into a series of intimate portraits, until the sharp delineations an iceberg’s crags becoming as intimate as the lines in the face of a beloved and fast-fading friend.