Zenfolio | Jack Burton Photography | Approaching nature

Approaching nature

April 22, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

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 enjoyed using the journal: I mainly wrote about whatever wildlife I came across, and I felt like it was a much more convenient and practical way of engaging with the environment when on the move. I started noting down what birds I saw on my way into university. Photography can be a fast hobby to interact with nature: the click of a shutter in the camera is rapid. I took the time one day in my friend’s garden to sketch a landscape as well as sit and note down what species of birds I witnessed. Obviously, I am no artist in the drawing realms, but that’s irrelevant in what I was hoping to achieve, which was focusing on engagement and experience. It was nice, the dynamic of my connection with nature changed and in a positive sense – things were slower and I enjoyed that.

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.

Try to experience and understand this for yourself if you feel like your passion is only a part of your artistic interests.


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