Photographer of the month in October is Deborah Freeman:
“Deborah Freeman is a Vancouver Island wildlife and nature enthusiast who attempts to capture her observations through photography. Her photos are everyday representations of the natural beauty that is enjoyed throughout the coastal regions of British Columbia” (deborahfreeman.ca)
- Could you give a brief introduction of yourself and how your interest in photography started?
I took up photography seriously in the co-writing of two small booklets on the healing plants of the Pacific Northwest. I began to see photography as a way of creating intimacy with nature. In studying the healing properties of plants, macro photography provided insight into their qualities and properties on a visual level. I came to understand partially through photography their abilities to heal in many ways, both physically and emotionally. Later, I began to photograph broader themes in nature which helped me to look inside the kaleidoscope; it opened a door of light and beauty enabling me to revisit and feel the awe, time and again.
- Do you think photography could be a good bridge between scientific findings and its transformation into public science?
.I do believe photography can provide incredible insight into the world of nature, particularly if the person is visual in how they perceive the world. There is a lot of competition for the public’s attention- TV-movies- internet etc and photography can compete with some of these “ways of seeing” but it is sustaining the interest over time that is difficult. There is always the next “flavour of the day” and the subject of interest changes. My hope is that photography, taken on a regular basis by observers of the natural world can provide images which help the public sustain their interest and assist in understanding the impact humans have world-wide. I would like to see more of the combination of photography and science. Photography can create the awe then science follows up with the details. An amazing marriage when it occurs.
- Why, in your opinion, do you think it is so difficult for science to reach out to the public? How do you think we can increase awareness around the difficulties the natural world is facing these days?
One way science can reach out to the general public is through societies such as the David Suzuki Foundation which creates awareness and shares scientific information. We need more of this type of organization to help the public understand and prioritize changes that are occurring and of course the impact these changes are having on our planet.
I have thought about this question many times as it often comes up in the world of healing, particularly around different modes of healing practices, for example Shamanism. I would like to see the world of science more open to possibilities and accepting of what it doesn’t know so that when the knowledge of what it does know is shared, it is authentic and true. For examples elders of our indigenous peoples, world-wide, have different layers of understanding and sometimes science cannot explain these ways of seeing. Science can be dismissive of what it doesn’t understand as possible.
Another way we could create a better bond between science and the public would be in changing the process by which universities and research is funded. Multi-national companies support and finance pesticides, herbicides and drugs that are harmful to humans, animals and the planet in general; then in turn finance research for various diseases etc. where these chemicals are the known causes of these diseases… the public wonders about the merry-go-round. Rightly or wrongly this becomes an issue with different layers of complexity. Something we as a society may need to address is; should science be free from corporate direction and sponsorship, and if so, how are we prepared to finance research? I truly feel science can and should be a part of the creative process to solve these challenges of the modern world. These are our greatest minds, we all co-exist and need to help one another.
It gives me such a sense of hope and excitement that as part of the scientific community you and your colleagues are reaching out through this magazine.
- In addition to photography, you are also an author. Your book “Song of the Sparrow” is out now in October. Could you tell us a little bit about it and the rest your work?
The two booklets I co-authored with Diana Mongeau were called Nettles and More, vol 1 & 2. These books were written to help people realize that plants have many healing abilities. They can heal on the physical level, (herbal) and the emotional level, (flower essences). They were also written as guides for plant identification. The small size making them easy to slip into a backpack or pocket.
Song of the Sparrow, which as you mentioned will be available mid-October, is a personal attempt to share vignettes of nature through my writings and photography. The pictures were all taken at the time of the event to show a true connection. My intention is to encourage a person, wherever they live, to enjoy their surroundings and create a relationship with these surroundings. This could be a beginning for a broader understanding of the profound impact we as humans are having on this plant. If we truly grew to love the trees in our neighborhood, for example, observed the buds, the bark, the seasons in relationship to the trees etc. ~~it would become precious to us. We need to value nature more than acquisitions. Particularly in the western world we have grown away from feeling the wind on our faces, smelling the earth and truly trying to engage with our immediate natural world. Song of the Sparrow is about all these things.
- Lastly, if you could choose one of your photos to represent who you are, which one would that be?
This was the most difficult question of all! The pictures I have taken are all a part of my experience. I often can’t remember what I did yesterday, but when it comes to these photographs I can remember most of the details… of how I felt when I was taking the picture, the feeling of excitement in being able to witness an event. However, to select one, I chose one about love, which I hope is an example of love in the universal context.
We would like to thank Deborah for being a good sport and sharing a bit of herself. Her passion for preservation and protecting the natural world should inspire us all.
You can visit Deborah’s flickr feed here or visit her website deborahfreeman.ca