A Window to Our Planet: The Surprising Insight into Science That Photography Offers

By Samantha Burton

Sean Hacker Teper is a Canadian-born photographer whose passion for nature ignited a fusion between two seemingly opposite subjects of interests: a degree in marine science and a drive to contain an image in time. A recent graduate of Boston University, Teper has been fortunate to travel abroad for his education and continues to teach and share stories about his various experiences doing research around the world. PWB talked to him about the relationship between his two most potent devotions and how their entanglement can bring awareness to the planetary conservation.

Samantha Burton: When did you become interested in photography? What does photography mean to you?
Sean Hacker Teper: Growing up, I always had a minor interest in photography. I loved every chance I had to grab my dad's camera and play with it. Two years ago, I received my first camera as a gift before I headed off to Ecuador for a semester abroad. There, guided by the advice and tips of my helpful peers, I developed my interest further. Since then, photography has become more than a hobby. As a scientist, I see photography as a crucial tool not only to engage people but also to promote interest in important issues around the world. It has also sparked a personal interest in the stars and universe, the study of which provides me with an opportunity for self-reflection.

SB: What was it about marine biology that interested you?
SHT: I think I am drawn to the unknown. We have only explored five per cent of the ocean's total space, so there is so much to learn. If you ask my mom, she will tell you that I have had an interest in water and marine species since I was a kid—I used to drag my brother down to a stream near my house to collect and investigate the frog population. My passion for science does not stop at marine biology, however; I consider myself a steward of the environment and am most interested in understanding how we can improve our planet through conservation efforts.

SB: How do you link science to photography?
SHT: Like I said above, I believe that photography provides a window into science that would otherwise remain inaccessible to most. In the Twitter age, I think it is extremely important to try to lure readers into important issues through interesting and captivating photographs.

SB: Do you have a dream goal or ideal that you want to achieve as a photographer?
SHT: I wish to make a difference in the world, to connect people to important issues and to simply give people a sense of adventure.

SB: Do you have any advice to give up and coming photographers?
SHT: Get outside. Leave your comfort zone. Start your next adventure. There is so much around you to explore and to learn. Nature is all around you. Use your senses; find your way to access it.

SB: Have you been involved in any human rights projects or organizations?
SHT: I have not been involved with any human rights projects but rather surround myself with peers and professors who are trying to make a difference by changing how we think about our world. My most influential professor, Kelly Swing, taught in me that the natural environment can change who you are. I try to use what I have learned to inspire younger generations to love and to care for our environment. To this end, I spent last summer at Whale Camp in the Bay of Fundy working with young students and teaching about the environment.

Teper continues his educational path and says he hopes to enroll in a graduate program in the fall to study conversation and ecology. Check out Teper's photography website for prints.

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