Photographing the Natural World and Beyond
A couple years ago I had this realization that I was spending too much of my life in front of a screen. I grew up in the country side of Southern Ontario, Canada and I spent most of my days wandering through forests, walking along river sides and sitting by Lake Ontario skipping stones. I was fairly isolated from others as most of my friends were a good 20 minutes away by car. As I grew older I became obsessed with computers and I dabbled in graphics and gaming. With the advent of the Internet, the digital world further captivated me and I felt connected with other people in a way I hadn’t experienced in the past. It was awesome.
No matter how deep into the digital world I got, I always had a huge respect for the natural one and I was a self identifying activist in high school. I recall giving presentations to my classmates about vegetarianism and how it would save our planet from the destruction of factory farming; I was pretty into it. Unfortunately this passion went into dormancy through University and my 20s as I was neck deep in figuring out adult life as best as I could. Being outdoors was something I still loved but I found myself embedded in city life and evolving my career instead.
After nearly a decade of developing a business around digital design my former business partner and I started to go through an existential crisis about what we’d built. We found ourselves in a position where we were working to work instead of loving what we did. It motivated us to examine what we cared about and what we valued at our core. There was a defining moment in our discovery process that I still hold closely today. We had been researching companies that we admired and my business partner brought up Patagonia. He showed me a few books written by its founder Yvon Chouinard and they really opened my eyes. The values of the organization and how they operated reinvigorated my passion for being outside and reminded me of the times I spent exploring when I was young. There was a quote by Patagonia’s former CEO that really put things into perspective:
“I think first and foremost, people only protect the things they love. And you can’t love something unless you inherently identify with it. -Kris Tompkins
This quote made me realize that when I stopped going out into nature my passion to protect it faded. It’s not like I didn’t care anymore, it’s just that I stopped paying attention. After this realization I knew I needed to change because it was increasingly obvious that our natural world was under significant stress due to humanity’s perpetual need for growth. I also knew that we only had one home and we needed to care that it continued to not only be hospitable but be a vibrant and beautiful place for us and future generations to come.
To remedy this disconnect, I turned to photography. I had been taking pictures for years but never really found my muse. It wasn’t until last year when I started venturing out into nature again that I really connected with the process of capturing an image, developing it and sharing it with others. It felt awesome to take a picture and inspire wonder in myself but more significantly it felt awesome to inspire that feeling in other people. Nature photography turned out to be the push I needed to get outdoors and reconnect with what I cared about. On top of that, sharing the images has provided an avenue to inspire others to get out and experience what nature has to offer. If there is anything I have learned over this short time, it’s that all you have to do is spend a few hours in one of these amazing natural places to identify with and ultimately care for it.
The past year has been incredibly fulfilling and I’ve been able to capture a little of nature’s magic in a bottle. I hope that these images spark something within you and you go out seek your own experiences first hand.
Here is a selection of my favourite shots taken over the past year:
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear stories about your own adventures into nature and what they meant to you, please respond below.
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