Tips for Connecting with Nature through Photography
Nature is amazing, inspiring, rejuvenating and available to us all. It’s a free-pick-me-up but one that’s easy to overlook in the whirlwind of everyday life. Taking photographs of nature is a simple way to enhance your connection with the natural world, as can be seen in the photograph above by Karen Hutton. In this sponsored post, brought to you in collaboration with Fujifilm, we draw on ideas and images from photographers in Fujifilm’s X-Photographers network to look at how you can use your camera to foster a deeper connection to and appreciation of nature…
Inspiring, amazing and free
This photograph (spotted in Fujifilm’s online magazine) stopped me in my tracks for a moment last week. It’s a strikingly simple shot. Just a couple of autumn leaves. But something in it captured my attention, stopped me clicking and flicking and gave me a moment of colour, peace and beauty in an otherwise rather dull day. Connecting with nature does that. It’s healing. And that moment of photographic meditation reminded me of the power of photography to foster connections with nature.
The photograph is by Karen Hutton, a photographer who lives out near Lake Tahoe in the USA. Karen is part of the Fujifilm X Photographers network and in the accompanying article she talks about the interplay between her love of nature, photography and her Fujifilm X Series cameras. As you can see in this short video, Karen lives in an amazing place for nature photography and is blessed to be able to head out to immerse herself in it on a paid and professional basis.
It’s not what you’ve got it’s how you use it
On first reading the interview I found Karen’s lifestyle, commitment to her photography and connection with nature enviable, but also quite different to mine. I often struggle to find ten minutes to take a photograph and that’s usually on the same old stretch of muddy canal that I walk everyday. On a second read I realised that beyond her location and use of quality cameras and lenses, her connection to nature comes not through her gear or how long she spends getting a shot but through her disposition and the act of taking the photograph. That’s good news for people like me – pushed for time, with just a phone camera in my pocket and keen to squeeze in a connection with nature between school runs, ballet classes, scouts, work and the weekly shopping. So, on a third reading I picked out these four tips that no matter where you are, what gear you have with you or how little time you have can help you connect with nature through photography.
Invite nature to speak to you
“I’m looking for elements like patterns, shapes, textures and colours” Karen Hutton
The act of taking a photograph requires you to look, to notice, to choose a subject, to frame it and focus in. Setting out to photograph nature requires that you find some and direct your attention to it. Giving attention to nature is a conversation starter. It invites nature to speak to you. Whether you are framing a landscape or focusing close-up on a detail, when you look at nature with purpose you begin connecting with it. Of course it helps to know what you’re looking for and Karen makes some good suggestions – patterns, shapes, textures, colours, light. When you look with purpose you ask nature a question. And she usually answers. When you ask ‘How does the light fall on these trees?’ you might end up with a picture like this.
Shoot for you not for sharing
“I was a little wary when I was starting out… so many great photographers had already covered the places I was going to… then I said to myself ‘I haven’t done it, I haven’t spoken to the landscape nor it to me,’ so I thought I would go out and see what I could find.” Karen Hutton
It’s easy to think that everything that could be photographed probably already has been. And while that may be true, it’s missing the point. Photography is personal; the act of photographing is an experience for you, irrespective of who has shot it before and separate and distinct from any act of sharing. Your connection with nature and with the places you visit is personal. It matters not that it has been visited or photographed a thousand times before by others. Shoot for you, not for others and not just for sharing. Shoot to capture a photograph that reflects your experience, your moment, your conversation, your connection with nature. Let nature speak to you, then take a photo. Then, later on, share with us what she said.
A moment is all you need
“I don’t like hanging around waiting for a picture to happen.” Karen Hutton
Some of the best conversations and connections I’ve ever had have been short ones. It’s easy to think we need to spend hours hiking, waiting or doing reconnaissance to get a perfect shot. Or that we need to spend days living like a hermit to get a deep and true connection to nature. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Which is just as well as most of us haven’t got the time or the patience. A more useful (and practical) attitude is to just use whatever time you have well. And, if you can, to choose when and where you go wisely to maximise your chances of a good encounter. But if you’ve only got ten minutes, right now? Well, focus on what is in front of or near you right now instead of grumbling about not having enough time. Which brings me to my last point.
Be in the moment
“I have to be in the moment and I always know that my picture is out there.” Karen Hutton
We have the time we have, it’s how we use it that counts. Connecting with nature requires that we give it our attention now. So banish all those circulating thoughts about what you need to do next, tonight’s dinner, that problem at work, and focus instead on being in the moment and connecting with whatever is in front of you. Like the sculptor faced with a block of stone, or the writer facing with a blank page, there is a photograph waiting in every moment if you can be in that moment to see it. So, have you got a moment now? Why not switch off this screen, grab your camera and go ask nature a question. Then tweet me and let me know the answer.
Disclosure Note: This is sponsored content, brought to you in a collaboration with Fujifilm. The images were provided by Fujifilm, the inspiration by nature and the words and ideas are, as ever, our very own.