Welcome to balance through the lens!
So what’s this blog all about and how did it come to be?
This blog is about meditative nature photography™, a practice I started when doing photography for my book, Life is a Balancing Act and Nature Understands: A Photographic Journey of Inspiration!
Here’s how it all began…
In the main hallway of our home is a collage of nature photographs I’ve taken over the years. They make me happy and remind me of the places I’ve been and the beautiful, humorous, and inspiring things I’ve seen. The photos touch me, center me, bring me back to places I was smiling.
But one special day they had a different effect. As I walked mindlessly down the hall, I found myself glancing at the wall as I usually do, fleetingly noticing the images there.
But I slowly stopped, my eyes fixated on a photograph of a Golden-mantled Ground squirrel that I’d taken at Bryce Canyon.
(Click on any of my photographs to see an enlarged image)
I tilted my head and stared. It was as though he was looking right at me, and into my mind popped the words “Ahhh! You can’t see me! I’m blending in!” I giggled to myself at the thought of this creature wanting desperately to stay hidden in his shadows, and glanced around at the other pictures.
Opposite him on the wall was a bold yellow sunflower flashing its showy petals. “Hmm,” I thought. That flower certainly doesn’t seem to want to hide. It’s busy standing out boldly from the background!” I shifted my weight a bit as I scanned the other pictures.
Suddenly “stories” were popping out at me from the photos of my adventures. Another ground squirrel looked at me with a confused smirk.
A tiny blue-grey gnatcatcher in mid-air was telling itself “Keep reaching, keep reaching!” I noticed a picture of Blodgett Peak in fall and thought “That’s a blurry landscape of possibilities”. Flowers of various shapes and hues were splashed about the wall, some with their “heads” or “faces” drooping, while others cheerily turned their “faces” to the sun.
And then I saw a flower with awkward buds hanging around it. “Wow,” I actually said aloud, “some of those hanging around you sure look a little weird!”
In that moment I realized that there was a book in those photos. My little flower, chipmunk and bird friends were seemingly reaching out to us humans through my lens. Through witnessing and capturing their experiences with the camera, I had given myself a gift: the gift of feeling understood. The gift of empathy. The gift of being reminded that in my best moments and my worst, I’m not alone in what I feel. Nature understands!
That small revelation felt so good. And I had to share that feeling. Besides, I had a quote taped to my computer monitor from Tama Kieves’ fantastic book This Time I Dance: Creating the Work You Love- “The path of inspiration defies navigation. We arrive by revelation.” I wanted to run with this revelation.
I was later chatting with a particularly creative, insightful friend (amazing visual artist Alayna McKee). I couldn’t resist sharing my experience with her. When I confided the book idea she immediately “got it” and thought it was a wonderful idea. Thanks to her simple enthusiasm and encouragement that day, a year and six days later, Life is a Balancing Act and Nature Understands: A Photographic Journey of Inspiration was published.
As I wrapped up photography for the book, which admittedly became quite intense at times, I realized that I’d stumbled upon another revelation. While I’ve hiked in nature my whole life, I haven’t always done so with a camera. Spending a year in nature nearly every day, I noticed that my walks, hikes, and adventures took on a different quality when I had the camera with me. I was more focused; I slowed down. I saw more. I paid attention more. The camera, quite literally, focused me.
Being the natural teacher that I am, I had to share this wonderful experience, this remarkable feeling of being understood and finding my focus with others. My life was now so much more balanced. How many others could I help find understanding and balance and focus in their own lives? Thus a third revelation: I’d found my calling. So out of the making of the book, Balance Through the Lens™ The Art of Meditative Nature Photography™ was born.
I hope the book and this blog warm people’s hearts, make their days brighter, and helps them feel less alone and more understood. But more than that I’m hoping it gives them a new way to find their equilibrium- beyond reading the book- a way through doing nature photography to center themselves, focus, and find a restorative inner peace.
I’ll be writing expanded musings on all of the themes and page sets from the book and new inspirations from my adventures in the wild. Please share your own experiences! I’d love to hear from you!
There was another encounter with a friend, and a lizard, that inspired me to really pursue this blog…
A friend looked at a first draft copy of the book, and I was explaining to her how I got the photographs. She was flipping through the pages and came to the lizard…
“It sat still for you? Wow. You must have been really calm!”
I explained to her that when I’m doing nature photography, the world disappears for me. All I see is my subject. I become so calm, so focused, I feel suspended in time and everything else drops away, leaving me and my subject floating in a timeless dance of posing and viewing. I’ll often not notice twenty minutes going by, as I’m pulled in by the beauty of a flower’s petals, the intense focus of a busy, hungry bug, or the standoff-staring contests that squirrels like to engage in with me.
“You’re in the zone!” my friend said. “Like an athlete. You’re in the zone- it’s like you’re meditating!”
That’s exactly it. I wrote about that in the last pages of the book, how calming, restorative, exhilarating this is in a healthy, positive way. Like an athlete, sometimes my work in the field is physically demanding, exhausting even. But like an athlete, my adrenaline flows and there’s a euphoria I feel after a long, contorted, thigh-busting shoot that felt like a half-hour of squats! It’s rewarding. It’s worth it. It’s healing. It’s ecstasy.
In that moment I decided that this was something I could teach to others. A new way to become mindful, to be in the moment, to find a state of prayer or meditation, and to be in balance.
So that’s how this blog came to be!
Read on to:
The Art of meditative nature photography™?