Wanting to Photograph vs. Needing To Photograph

HS5286Most of the times I go out to photograph nature it is because I want to.  There are, however, times I do so because I need to.  Here I’m not alluding to those times I get assignments but rather to the moments in my life when it is a spiritual and emotional necessity.  This past week I found myself in that position.  At the church I recently began serving there has been a lot of sickness.  One woman I admire immensely was just given a very bad prognosis by her doctors.  When things like this happen it takes a toll on me too.  I cannot help but hurt when people I love and care for are having difficulties.  I often find myself feeling depressed and discouraged when others struggle so.  I have learned that when I find myself in this condition one of the best things I can do for myself is grab my camera and get out into nature.

mag264There is something extremely therapeutic about spending time in the midst of God’s Creation.  The naturalist and author, John Muir, once said “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  In another one of his books he wrote,  “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”  Long before Muir penned these words the Psalmist talked about God making him “lie down in green pastures” and leading him “beside still waters.” (23:2)  It would seem that nature is, indeed, one of the gifts God has provided to meet not only our physical needs but our spiritual and emotional needs as well.

_CES5088I do find the peace and freshness Muir writes about in nature but when I am struggling I need my camera too.  It’s probably just me but often nature alone is not enough.  Even in the most beautiful spots I still find my mind wanting to dwell on the problems others are having or even my own.  Taking a camera along forces me to concentrate more on what I’m seeing.  Having to think about what lens I will use, what aperture I’ll choose, or what angle I will work from helps me to forget temporarily the things that are getting me down.  I know I could photograph any number of subject but I find photographing nature to be the most beneficial when I am seeking comfort and peace.  For some reason nature helps me keep things in perspective and causes me to stay better attuned to God.

_CES4935The pictures you see here were taken over the last four days.  I usually don’t photograph much in the summer.  I can’t stand the heat and humidity.  I went out and captured these images, once again, not because I wanted to but because I needed to.  Today I give thanks for both God’s Creation and the means God has given us for capturing images of it.  Not only do they give me much pleasure, in times like these, the combination of the two brings me a lot of comfort.