I grew up on a small farm bordering a wild forest, 30 miles east of New York City. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded my family’s fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods. On the news, scientists linked the storm to climate change caused by human activity. I realized that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on earth unaltered by people.
Human Nature ($60, Nazraeli Press), my third book of photographs, begins in cities and moves through forests, farms, deserts, ice fields, and oceans, toward wilderness. In an age when the average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors, I photographed government programs that connect people to nature, neuroscientists measuring how spending time in wild spaces benefits us, and climate scientists measuring how human activity is changing the air. The scientists included in the book are now facing budget cuts and censorship by the Trump administration.
Photographers normally portray nature as either a pristine wilderness or as a disaster. I wanted to describe a relationship with nature that is more complicated and more intimate.
Photo: Kate MacNamee waits for a storm to pass while participating in an electroencephalogram (EEG) study. Researchers at the University of Utah, working under David Strayer, are conducting studies measuring cognition in nature. The EEG cap and facial electrodes record brain activity as participants are exposed to different natural environments.