The Why

2016-05-18

forest princess

In the stressful and emotionally draining phase before handing in the portfolio for my application, I received one of the most beautiful comments ever.

“You need to speak about your photos’ meanings in a social context? The pictures in this post have loads of meaning. They speak about the awe and beauty of nature, combined with the beauty of the models in nature. At a time when humanity is more emotionally disconnected from the earth than ever before, what else could be more meaningful?

Even more significant is the fact that although your models are in the midst of a winter wonderland, they are paying zero attention to it. This fits perfectly with humanity’s current situation: we are undeniably embedded in the natural world; and yet we pay it no heed.

Your models’ ages add even more meaning to these photos. They appear to be in their 20s, and that age group may be more disconnected from nature than any other. But our generation is largely responsible for deciding what sort of future humanity will have. So for me these pictures are full of social meaning.” – written by the kindhearted Josh.

See, I was doubting myself and my chances to get accepted; beating myself up over and over again. All I could think about was my application, and I was often close to abandon hope. And then there is this beautiful stranger who has just stumbled upon my blog – and he takes his precious time to write me something so touching.

Being an emotional person in a raw state, I cried.

It’s a very weird and intense feeling when a stranger points out one of the biggest issue in your life and you weren’t even really aware that it has been something bothering you all along. And it’s amazing when said stranger reaches this conclusion by looking at some simple photos you took (it’s not a surprise he studied psychology :D).

∙•∙

I strongly believe that we’re part of nature and have no right for our selfish and destructive behavior, subduing nature the way we’ve been doing it for decades. I feel like a part of my environment, just like the animals and plants around us. But during the last couple of years, I’ve become a stay-at-home who often doesn’t feel like going out – and this has led to a feeling of extreme disconnection.

It has only changed when I started taking portraits last autumn. Not having a photo studio forces me to go out, wade a river, stride through stubborn shrubbery, step on stones and stumps, lie on dirt roads, get scratched legs, torn tights and sneaky ticks – and most of all, feel alive.

For me, this is a crucial part of photography. A part of the why. Besides to the interpersonal connection I seek, I want to create in order to get in touch with nature again – because there, I feel whole and healed.

So essentially, I love photography passionately for two reasons: First, it’s a means to connect with all kinds of different people; and secondly, it gives me a reason to go out and connect with my environment. Human connection and nature – what else do we need?

My mission is to let people be vulnerable in front of my camera. I want them to be themselves, without the masks we often use in society. And at the same time, being outside is something ‘spiritual’ for me. I want my shoots to be a time-out from society for my ‘model’ and me, a time-out in nature, where we can let go and be vulnerable.

Thank you, Josh, for making me realise what it’s all about.


The magical photo above is from a collaboration with my amazingly talented make-up artist friend Cindy and the pretty model Sandrine <3 One of my favourite creations so far.

25 Comments
      1. Yes, the blogosphere has really amazing people – like you :D and yeah, I never expected to find something I love to do so much.

    1. It’s so wonderful to hear this! It made me so happy to hear how much my comment affected you!

      I think your goal of using photography to connect with people and nature is an admirable one. And it makes sense to! After being an old humbug for many years I finally got a smart phone, which is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a camera. Suddenly my routine hikes have become so much more meaningful (and much slower), because the ability to take pictures motivates me to pay more attention to whatever catches my eye. It’s amazing how much more alive everything seems when you really focus on it.

      1. :) It was really uplifting to hear that when I was in that doubtful state; it came unexpected and made me understand many things better – thank you again.

        haha I also only got a smartphone last year. Hey, that’s how exactly how I started falling in love with photography! Taking photos during my strides through nature. Maybe this will ignite your passion too and you’ll start documenting the people and life in Latin America while saving jaguars :D

        1. I have every intention of getting a real camera before I head off to Latin America and documenting as much as I can! It’s just a question of whether or not I can afford to make a purchase of that size right now.

          1. That’s awesome! I’m not sure how much you know about cameras, so a little recommendation from me: a mirrorless camera with a good lens (I’d say a prime lens [no zoom, you have to walk] with a wide aperture [that means you can blur more around your subject, putting more focus on it]) is a great start and costs maybe 700$? I started with the “Canon EOS M” and a friend just got a mirrorless from Olympus :) I’m so geeky when it comes to photography, haha

            And in the meantime you can continue practicing with your smartphone, it’s true that photography is more about learning to see than the equipment :)

            1. Wow, thanks for all the advice Monika! What’s the advantage of a mirrorless camera over one with mirrors, or of a prime lens over a zoom lens? I admit that having a zoom capability is important to me, as it will make it easier to get shots of wildlife without getting so close as to disturb them or breaking any rules. There may also be times when getting close to my subject simply won’t be possible.

              1. Oh I totally forget about the wildlife you want to photograph! I’ll explain everything more detailed via Facebook; of course I’m not a pro but I have picked up some basics and will try to give you a general overview :)

    1. Your friend Josh really made some insightful observations, which IMHO are not limited just to people in their 20’s. I think that people of all ages tend to take nature for granted and to be “disconnected” from each other and from the world around them.

      1. Thank you for your comment, Gloria! Yes, I guess it applies to people of all ages, but I have the feeling that my generation is ‘worse’ because many are easily distracted by social media, the internet etc. (though of course, I don’t know how it was ten to twenty years ago). And yes, too often we take nature for granted and act that way :/

        Have a beautiful weekend! :)

    1. Love the way your site is put together, an inspiration. Thank you for dropping by my site too, best of luck with your work! :)

    1. I think your photographic work is inspiring, beautiful and thoughtful. I enjoy your blog very much

    1. Your photography is excellent and very inspiring. Great Blog! I’ve been doing photography as a hobby for nearly 5 years now and I’m still not where I want to be but every day I get further along that path.

      1. Thank you so much! :) wow, for so long! I’ve only been ‘really’ photographing for a year now. I agree, as long as we keep going, we’ll get closer to our goal :)

    1. Hi Monika
      What a brilliant post !!
      (And wow – what insightful comments Josh made.)
      This post has everything It’s like, a perfect blog post.

      Re: your creative work in general (your amazing photography and also even your amazing blogging)
      Two books that I think you would love are:

      `Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention’ – 1997
      by Psychology Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author)
      http://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Psychology-Discovery-Invention-byCsikszentmihalyi/dp/B004RUE6KE/

      And

      `Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – July 1, 2008
      by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author)
      http://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-Experience-Perennial-Classics/dp/0061339202

      ie They may not change anything you do,,, but — they may help you to understand exactly why you do it, LOL
      (ie – like Josh’s great comments !!!)

      Cheers
      JT

      PS – “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers…”
      Bonus points, for remembering what classic movie that line’s from.

      1. Hi Joe, thank you so much for your comment! :) I really love the feedback I’m getting, also yours!

        Thank you for your recommendations, I’m going to bookmark them right now (- did it!). I’ve been reading a Spanish novel for ages now and should try to finish it soon so I get to read others books like the ones your recommended! They sound very interesting :)

        hahaha I don’t know anything about movies and even less about classic movies. But it’s a quote I find very true :)

        All the best :)

    1. I’m just cruising your images at the moment. This one stopped me dead in my tracks. The composition is so dynamic. The light and color work together. Usually, I see photographers use light that overpowers color or vice versa. I’m a huge proponent of Jay Maisel’s work and theories of photography, so those are usually the aspects of an image I hone in on. This image is a great example of his principles.

      1. Thank you very much!! I was so happy about your comment – I’m glad you liked it so much :) I’m definitely going to check out Jay Maisel’s work. Have a wonderful weekend!

        1. He’s like my Yoda. Back when I was a photojournalist for the Navy, I chased everything I could do. Remind me to tell you about the day I actually got to meet him. Still, your work is great! Keep sharing!

    1. Hi Monika! The first time I saw some photos on your blog, I felt drawn to them. I’m not as insightful as Josh when it comes to art or photography (lol) but after reading this, I’m starting to get it. :) I’ve been spending way too much time in front on the computer screen and have been wanting some kind of release and reconnection with nature and somehow your photos, I think, are helping me realize how important it is to pursue that. Wow. So yes, please continue to do what it is you’re doing. I love how you talked about being vulnerable (naked) in the forest. I think it’s also something that I’m wanting to learn and I love how your blog is able to subtly challenge me to take that same journey, sort of, ish… :) So thank you! Keep your WHY burning. ;-)

Let me know what you think!

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