Michele Westmorland keeps a very busy schedule traveling between Melanesia and her home outside Seattle and points in between. The award winning photographer and filmmaker was interviewed during our 2015 Summit and recently, we were very pleased to catch up with her for an update. Make sure to see Michele’s Gallery of spectacular images.
“I believe in the power of imagery to motivate stewardship and protection of the fragile underwater world. It is equally important to connect with the indigenous peoples of the world – man is, in fact, a part of nature.” ~ Michele Westmorland
This quote has and will remain as something I firmly believe in. It came from my years of observation and experience of diving with magical marine life but also from my decades of travel to Melanesia, where I learned how valuable the health of the ocean is to the people who need to lead healthy and sustainable lives.
Storytelling in a Rapidly Changing World
The greatest gift given to me has been when I turned my camera from simply capturing an image of a fish or creating stock imagery to develop a successful business, to understanding the importance of storytelling in a world that is rapidly changing – and impacting what our earth provides.
As a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and as a proud recipient of the 2016 Fellow of the Year Award, it is the collaboration with other photographers with rich stories and a talent to tell those stories visually, that has given me such satisfaction and purpose. Having been chosen to participate in expeditions with fellow photographers, I’ve increased my ability to develop a storyline before going into the field. In one such instance, I was asked to document the scientists whose specialty was studying coral species that took me to French Polynesia, The Tuamotus and Gambiers, and capture imagery to help tell their story to a broader audience.
“What if the Earth were made of coral?”
Before the journey, I began to think about what would be the tag line or signature image that could encompass the goals of the Living Oceans Foundation who were working globally to investigate the health of our reef systems. It was then, after a few scribbled drawings on a piece of paper, I knew how and what I would capture. In my mind I asked, “What if the Earth were made of coral?” The photo above is now one of my favorites because it says something important visually – in one single shot.
As a photographer, these lessons of storytelling have taken me to an even higher calling of creating a documentary film about art. Are we, as photographers, not artists?
Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas and Camera
When I discovered the story of two very brave women who traveled to my beloved Melanesia in the 1920’s, it took me on a journey of discovery about the people of these magical island nations and how art of all forms can tell stories of history and culture across oceans and decades. Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas and Camera is now a completed film with film festivals targeted and screenings in the near future.
Michele is the director, producer and expedition leader of the Headhunt Revisited team. Lauren Hutton is the spokesperson and narrator. Visit the Headhunt Revisited website.
Publication and Awards
In 2006 Michele published her photo book “Ocean Duets” focusing on the beauty of the underwater world. Michele is a Fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club, and a member of the Society of Woman Geographers, Wings World Quest, ASPP, NANPA and in 2011 was inducted into the Woman Divers Hall of Fame.
Among the many awards that Michele has received for her photographic work include the Grand Prize in the Papua New Guinea Underwater category, the Environmental Photography Invitational and Photo District News. As a public speaker, Michele has given lectures on our need to protect our ocean environment and its marine life.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See These Related Posts on Blue Ocean Filmmakers:
Thru the Lens of Conservation – Michele Westmorland
Summit 2015, Ocean Views – Creatives tackle the underwater issues Film, Photography, Books, Cartoons
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
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