Over the past couple of years, I’ve been through stages of how I approach my time spent in the outdoors: either going out to photograph wildlife or just going out for the sake of seeing and being with nature, using my journal to document things I thought were notable.
Last year, I went through a stage of not going out with my camera and just going for walks with my journal. At first, this was a complete abnormality as I’d never considered leaving my camera behind. As I started doing this, though, I realised that when I went out with my camera my intentions to photograph wildlife were more significant than the incentive to go out and appreciate some of the things I saw. For example, if I saw a house sparrow I would naturally overlook it being a common species, deciding it not worthy enough of a photograph. My creative tastes to get the ideal shot were triumphing the taste of actually experiencing a raw moment of nature. I was so involved with my indulgence in photography and capturing beauty and excitement that I was forgetting that I didn’t need the camera to enjoy nature for what it is. I didn’t want to associate my passion for nature just to photography – I felt that nature to myself transcends beyond that.
To engage with the environment differently and not worry about what photos I was going to come back with, I started venturing out solely with my journal, pencil and binoculars. The experience is completely different: nature is beneficial for mindfulness and relaxation, and I became more aware of this when I was only out with my journal. I am not saying that photography is not relaxing or is not good for mindfulness, but I think at times it can be less relaxing because you’re conscious of wanting to achieve something from your walk.
I never stopped photography - I still went out with my camera but was just less pedantic about it. I have noticed, though, that when going out on a photography venture I can end up seeing more species than I would just going out for a walk…the experience is much more intense and I seem to think more about what I’m doing. It can be beneficial in that sense and I enjoy the creative side of the experience when out with my camera. Photography, after all, was the gateway into my passion for the outdoors.
I keep a balance now of approaching nature in these different ways, sometimes out with my camera and sometimes just to see the beauty of the world.
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