Often when meeting someone new in the photography field, I’m asked how I got into it. Quite frankly, it took years for me to really click into a budding passion. It grew in the background, a hobby to keep my social media active while I was still heavily pursuing music. I never expected it to take over, but more important to me is the effect nature itself had on me.
Way back when in what feels like another life, I was a much more wound up and stressed out guy. In addition to this, I was generally angry at everything and everyone… Truly though, I was angry at myself. I’ve always been an avid gym goer, but I began to realize that wasn’t enough to blow off all my steam. I needed something relaxing and active at the same time. I can’t even remember what gave me the idea, but I began going for walks after work on trails in the suburbs. Not only was I wiped by the time I was done, especially after 5am gym sessions and a full day of work, but I began to the long and incredibly slow path to understand what living in the moment can be like. Combining an enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors, this became a routine. I’d get a good pace going, but eventually I’d find a spot and stop. I’d stop, listen, look around and take everything in.
It didn’t take long for weekend hikes to be added to the post work walks. I recall at one point deciding to see how many trails I could walk within the Greater Toronto Area. Every weekend I would hit up a new trail, sometimes two. I only realized it now as I type this, but it was one of the few times I actually set a goal for myself in my twenties. Not long after this, it was suggested I open up an Instagram so I could have a social media presence for my music. This is when I began taking pics with my phone of my little hikes. I had no idea what it would lead to.
The combination of cell phone photography and nature slowly became something I got quite excited over. Heading out to new places for new pictures on my Instagram. It was simple, but life changing. Over the years as the phones improved, so did their cameras and so did I. Instagram filters made way for apps such as Snapseed (which I still love and edit all phone pics with), and my eyes began to notice more details in the world.
I can confidently say without those little trail walks, none of this would have happened. Even to this day, being in nature with or without my camera is one of the happiest places I can be. The feeling of isolation and being alone with my thoughts, but surrounded by the natural earth, without the sounds of human civilization puts me in a mental place I find more soothing than anything else. Yet even when I have my camera with me, it is in nature where I feel I truly thrive. I can highly recommend to many people who feel stressed and overwhelmed to take a walk in nature. Not only will you keep somewhat active, but often a good way to relieve anxiety is not to add stimulation and distraction, but to take it away. It may be a tad intimidating to be alone with your thoughts at first, but over time the ability to separate and process them will become easier.
It is in our human nature, to enjoy earth’s nature. That is where we are supposed to be, not in a cubicle. Our evolution was one with the world. A grasshopper will become a locust if their population density is too high, so maybe cities have a similar effect on us, where we become more stressed and anxious in densely populated areas. This is only a theory, but temporary isolation does come with a strong soothing effect for many of us. So take a walk, feel the air (when it isn’t -18c) and enjoy the sounds and wonders the natural world has to offer. It can change your life, it most certainly did for mine.