What inspires me? What moves me to take a particular photograph? How do my photographs come to be the way they are?
I had a very insightful conversation recently, centered around those questions. Initially the answer came easily – I photograph the things I love: Nature, landscapes and the outdoors. But that answer wasn’t very imaginative, and it felt like the easy way out. Nature is a very broad and beautiful subject, full of inspirational places. I had to get more specific about what in Nature inspires me. That required some extra thought.
Please allow me a quick aside. I have a difficult time putting things into words. The challenge is magnified when I’m emotional or visually inspired. With this in mind, please bear with me as I wander on and off my point.
Back to the narrative. I find that there are many pieces of Nature that interest and inspire me, rather than a single entity. I love flowers, waterfalls, ponds, animals, forests, mountains, lakes, gardens, storms, weather formations, and plant life. I love the processes that Nature has in place to make things happen. Nature has a marvelous organization that we sometimes see and often do not. These are not just things that I like – I find them all incredibly fascinating.
This makes finding an easy definition that much more difficult. But I believe that I am getting much closer. Rather than looking at Nature as a collection of objects, I look at Nature as a living, breathing miracle, capable of healing those who pay attention. Among the powerful systems that we can see (weather, water, wind, etc) are many that we cannot understand. She calms, heals and inspires – all of which are increasingly important in our busy world.
My life generates a lot of anxiety. My brain is constantly bombarded with details that I must organize or make a decision about. I can handle it some of the time, but often it overwhelms my ability to keep up. I get tunnel vision, and I am unable to change gears. Over time I get grouchy and impatient over little things that normally would not raise an eyebrow.
I take this baggage with me when I go outside. At first I continue to worry about all of those details, trying to get them organized. Slowly, without realizing it, the worries begin to fade. Bird songs creep into my head, followed by a floral perfume. Rushing water gives me pause. Within an hour my anxiety is gone and my mood has lifted. It happened subtly and quietly, but Nature somehow replaced my worn out persona with the real me.
The greatest part is the fact that it works anywhere! I find relief in the forest, at the beach, on a mountain, in a tunnel and even underwater. Nature changes my nature, as it does for every one of us if we allow it.
My inspiration lies in finding the lessons Nature is teaching about the world and about myself. I look at the details, the colors, the patterns and the processes. How and why does Nature work? What is the genesis of that awesomeness that I see in front of me? How can I apply it to my life to be more awesome? Sometimes it is easy to put into words, but often it must be seen or felt. I use my photography to express the amazing I find in Nature.