Why I came back to photography after a 20-year break
I met a guy 30 years ago that believed there were three things that take turns saving your life – your family, your work… and music. He said that at different times, one of them will be the only thing to stop you going crazy.
Certainly, my family, my work, and definitely music has each played role in keeping the men in white suits at bay, but I can add two more: the great outdoors (particularly the Victorian High Country and NSW desert regions), and photography.
When I was a relentlessly bullied teenager, camping with my dad was the one thing that kept me sane. The bush felt like home. It didn't judge me, didn't lie to me, and it didn't prey on my weaknesses. It embraced me.
Those years wandering the High Country exploring the Outback, sitting around a campfire and riding mountain trails with my best friend saved me over and over again. I think it saved my dad, too.
As an adult, I've rediscovered the power of nature to heal. Being outdoors and feeling it on my skin and in my lungs feels good. It feels right. But combine it with a camera, and you then have one of the greatest therapies for stressed-out, jaded, tired-of-the-routine people like me.
Like so many of you, I've spent the better part of my adult life chasing things. A better car, a bigger house, gadgets and toys. Stuff.
Not that there's anything inherently wrong with stuff if it genuinely brings us joy. The trouble is, though, most of us do things we don't enjoy to get that stuff. And as the misery and boredom and stress slowly eat away at us, we acquire more stuff to soften the blow – or at least justify the extra work we're doing to pay for it all.
It becomes a vicious cycle of working to acquire and then acquiring more to justify the work.
I've always advocated doing whatever you can to change how, where and when you work so you can develop greater agency over your life. Working from home has been my solution for the last 20 years, and it's allowed me to live and work pretty much as I choose. I've produced countless posts and podcast episodes on this topic alone.
But assuming you achieve that freedom (and thanks to COVID-19, millions have), the question becomes, what do you do with it? For many, it's been a chance to start a side-hustle, spend more time with the kids or engage with their unique passions.
For me, it's been all three. But in late 2020 I rediscovered my truest and most enduring passion. Landscape photography.
Matter of fact, it gripped so hard that I know this is it for me. I'll be shooting landscapes for the next 50 years – assuming I crack 100.
When I jump in my 4-wheel-drive with my camera bag and tripod, I am instantly at ease. My breathing settles and my eyes open. I see the beauty in everything – the curve on a hill, the arc of a shadow, a lone tree, the backlit grass. It reminds me just how lucky I am to have my sight, my sense of smell and touch, and my hearing.
I feel human again – connected to everything around me – rather than the passive but hurried observer that I've been for so long.
I am a landscape photographer again. It's good to be back.
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