My camera, my pen, and I just returned from a great winter trip of wandering, exploration, and discovery throughout parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. I had no specific location in mind. I simply wanted Nature to come to me so that I could embrace Her. Along the way, two questions were asked of me on separate occasions. What do you see and feel as you take a picture? What pictures are you taking? About the time these questions were asked, I came across posts by two of my favorite bloggers who provided answers far better than I.
“Photography helps me notice and appreciate my life. I practice what is called a meditative or contemplative form of photography. It’s about being present and open to life as it is, without judgment. It’s about being open to what the world offers up to me rather than looking for a particular shot.”
Well said, Kim! My camera is simply a tool by which I engage Nature. It’s purpose is NOT to take a picture. It’s purpose is to help bring me into intimate contact with Nature and to engage each moment. Typically, I sit with no camera in hand for extended periods letting Nature come to me. When I’m able to engage a profound moment, I pick up the camera and attempt to capture what I am perceiving. I also try to write out my feelings and perceptions.
More than anything else, I passionately love these times of engagement with Nature. It is a very spiritual experience for me. It is both work and play. David duChemin offers a wonderful description of my contemplative lifestyle.
” My work and play is to create. To write. To photograph. To grow friendships and make new experiences together. And to mold myself, in collaboration with time and circumstance, into the person I hope to be. I read … because the words of others are among the raw materials for whom I am becoming. I read and watch great stories as fuel and hope for my own story. If it doesn’t add to my life and the work of creation in which I spend my days, or to the lives of others, then it’s neither work nor play and I’ve no time for it. There is no spare time. I plan to use every second of it. Lives are not merely lived; they are created. And it’s that created life from which our love, our art, our legacy flows to others.”
Thank you David !!!
Hold that word “legacy” in your mind and heart for a moment. What if you were to apply David’s description of work and play to helping a young person who is walking beside you in Nature? What if that young person were holding a small camera? What if you asked that young person to record how he or she felt after waiting for Nature to present Herself? This process provides you the opportunity to give your legacy of engaging Nature to a child or youth.
Photography is a marvelous tool for developing a consciousness of Nature within young people. Photography and its contemplative process brings them into intimate contact with Nature by engaging them in each moment of their outdoor experience. If you are a parent, leave them with your legacy by giving your son or daughter a camera or a smartphone with a camera. Then take them hiking. Share your findings as you explore the images you both have captured. On a grander scale, volunteer to take a group of school kids out in Nature. Teach them about observing and engaging Nature. Then, let them freely use their ever present smart phones to capture images of Nature. Encourage them to share their images back in the classroom. In particular, encourage them to express the feelings they had as they captured an image.
The “Children And Nature” organization has a great article on kids using cameras in Nature.
Another group that employs volunteers and cameras to engage kids in Nature is the “Parks In Focus” organization whose purpose is “Connecting youth from underserved communities to nature through photography”.
The solution to the environmental crisis induced by mankind is to restore a consciousness for Nature through our youth. In doing so, you will be leaving your legacy for a sustainable future.
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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.