The power of a walk

In the last few years I’ve read quite a number of articles about the healing power of nature. While this might be one of the least interesting ‘discoveries’ of the last decade, I’ve realized over the last few months it’s also easy to overlook. It’s not enough to just be in nature. I go to the park and gardens that are just a few blocks from my apartment several times a week. And yet, when I took two hours to walk around the botanic gardens alone when it first opened, I felt healed in a way I deeply needed.

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And there’s no doubt - having a camera helps. It helps to slow down and notice the details that the landscape architects and nature worked hand in hand to create. The camera also helps me to look at old things in new ways - trees with deeply expressive faces, plants with rich vein structures, roses that are lonely and out of place.

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So yes, it’s cliche. But find your nature. Slow down. Touch it, smell it, soak it in with all of your senses. And then maybe turn your aperture.

Learning from misses

I recently came back from a trip to Park City, Utah. It is unquestionably a beautiful part of the world and yet I wasn’t able to see it creatively on this trip. My photos felt more post card than personal. More expected than intentional. More travel website than something for my portfolio.

It wasn’t the gear. I had a great camera, two lenses - including a beautiful wide angle. I had polarizing filters. I had gloves that helped me take photos even in the deep cold. I tried to push myself to see things from new perspectives - snuggling a bush here, aiming for the back light there, waking up for sunrise another time (well, a baby helps with that).

I was simultaneously struck by the vastness of the place yet unable to really capture that. Everywhere I looked beautiful landscapes were pocked by roads, modern houses, and other signs of humans taking over. Perhaps that could have been the theme that I lacked but at the time, it wasn’t what inspired me.

Despite my hopes for stronger images, I was still grateful to have my camera. To slow down and ask the questions that helped me see my surroundings in a new way. To be grateful for what I did have - and the people I was with. That’s a lesson perhaps more important than any one my images could have taught me - its more important to be grateful for the experiences we have, and to really experience them through all of our senses and feelings, than to ‘get’ a great capture.

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