A couple years ago, Liberty Miller was a wife, homeowner and full-time photographer in Seattle. But then opportunity came knocking—in the form of an invitation to join the “Blue Rage II” campaign with conservation organization Sea Shepherd in Japan, and later onboard the Steve Irwin—and Miller pulled up roots to become a full-time activist. The photos she’ll be showing starting Oct. 21 at the Blue Horse Gallery document this amazing time in her life.
Cascadia Weekly: Did your photographic talents help get land the gig?
Liberty Miller: Absolutely. I was originally asked to join Sea Shepherd as a photographer at the Cove in Taiji, Japan. This is where a large annual dolphin slaughter happens.
CW: Tell me a little bit about your time in Japan.
LM: Japan was very bittersweet. Of course it was insanely difficult to watch the dolphin slaughter and have cameras in my face all day, but it was also one of the greatest experiences of my life.
CW: What does it feel like to witness those sorts of horrors?
LM: I struggled every day with my updates for the Sea Shepherd website to describe the experience of seeing and hearing sentient beings die tragically. But I was the campaign leader and the need for me to remain stoic and diplomatic was paramount. I had to remain strong for my volunteers and for the dolphins, but nearly every day I would cry behind my sunglasses.
CW: Wasn’t that a difficult thing to photograph?
LM: Photographing the slaughter was the most challenging assignment I’ve ever undertaken, but it also helped me cope with what I was seeing. I had a job to do and I was able to put that to the front of my mind and basically hide behind my camera.
CW: What was life like aboard the Steve Irwin?
LM: I loved ship life. It wasn’t always easy, though. There were times when I was seasick and sometimes people didn’t get along but, for the most part, we all realized we were in this together and, for me, it was so inspiring to be a part of that.
CW: What’s a memorable shot you took onboard?
LM: My favorite shot was taken in Cannes, France. The shot is of actress Michelle Rodriguez jumping off the bow of the Steve with our Captain, Paul Watson, looking on. It’s such a power shot.
CW: As an activist, how do you hope your photographs affect people?
LM: I hope my photographs will enlighten and educate people. It’s my hope that people see my photos and are inspired to speak out against the things that need to change.
CW: What was the biggest thing you learned in the past two years?
LM: The number one lesson I’ve learned these past two years is to live your life for you; not for anyone else. I’ve learned that life is incredibly valuable and that you never can know when your time is up. Your life is yours and to someday regret the way you chose to live would be a terrible thing.
CW: What’s your life like now? What’s on your activist docket?
LM: My life now is about focusing on my new marine conservation organization, the Blue Ocean Foundation. I’ve volunteered for many different nonprofits and I was encouraged by those around me that believe in me to start my own group and do conservation the way I want to. So, that said, Blue Ocean will focus on joining music with activism—my two great loves.
CW: What would you tell people who are interested in activism but haven’t really done anything about it?
LM: I would suggest to anyone to simply do it. If you have a dream, whether it’s activism or not, chase that dream until you catch it. Don’t let money or society or anything else stop you from being you.
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