With Thanksgiving coming up, people are focusing on things they are thankful for in their lives, which is a good thing. Being thankful for what you have has been shown to provide all sorts of health benefits from improving sleep, increasing mental resilience to boosting self-esteem. I know being thankful is something I need to work more on…and I need to remember daily that I have a lot to be thankful for. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving and hopefully to help kick off a daily habit, I thought I would share a few things that photography has brought to my life that I’m thankful for.
(click on any photo in this post to enlarge)
1. Sharing adventures with my wife, Jill: My wife and I have been trying to go out at least one morning on the weekends looking for things for me to photograph. Sometimes we explore new areas, sometimes we return to the same spots frequently, sometimes we stay really close to home, and sometimes we wander around most of the day. Regardless of where we go and what I find to photograph, I really enjoy these trips and the time I get to spend with Jill. Jill especially enjoys seeing wildlife on our trips and spotted the owl shown above. I had totally missed the owl and was going to drive right on by it. I’m also thankful for Jill’s patience and putting up with me disappearing to the basement to edit photos and she also edits all my blog posts (I’m absolutely terrible at editing my writing…such as it is). Jill has also helped me tremendously with shows, events, etc. I’m very grateful for her support!
2. Spending time with my Dad: I’ve written several times about the photo trips I take with my Dad – from trips to the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, the Gyp Hills, Scott City and areas close to home. The photo above is a shot of my Dad photographing a section of stone fence along the Native Stone Scenic Byway. Dad and I also go out a lot to photograph the Milky Way. There is some nice dark skies where my parents live and it is fun to go up for a visit and then go out at night and take in the stars. I also get the chance to eat dinner at home…Mom makes the best fried chicken ever! Dad and I have done a couple of photography shows together and have another one coming up this winter in Waterville. I’m really thankful for the interest in photography that my Dad and I share and all the times it has brought me to visit Mom and Dad.
3. Spending time outside: I really enjoy being outside and photography helps me get out the door. I shouldn’t need a crutch to help me get outside, but a lot of times photography is the tool that helps me overcome the gravitational pull of the couch. I’m thankful for all the time I’ve spent outside because of my camera.
4. All the wonderful things I have seen: Related to #3, I’m thankful for all the exceptional moments I’ve witnessed because I was outside with my camera. I think the natural world always has beauty, but at certain moments when the light and shadows come together just so, the world can really turn magical. I’m thankful for being there to witness some of that.
5. Becoming more mindful: Becoming more mindful, more present, more connected to the now, more in the zone, or in flow, however you want to say it, is important to me. It is also something that doesn’t come easily for me. Photography has helped me slow down a bit and has helped me connect more with the world. I’m very thankful for photography showing me what it can be like to be really present.
6. Seeing the world differently: Photography has helped me to see the world in a different way. This is related somewhat to #5, but I notice things now that I wouldn’t have before I picked up a camera. I notice details and objects now that I would have overlooked previously and I also “see” light and shadows in a different manner. I’m thankful that photography has helped me see the world in more detail and to see the awe in the world around me.
7. The opportunity to create and to learn new things: I enjoy learning new stuff and photography has provided me with endless opportunities to learn. I really, really enjoy trying to learn and master new techniques. I like the challenge of trying to figure out how to do something and it is a great time to be a photographer with the constant development of opportunities to learn. The photograph above is a focus stack used to extend the depth of field possible in a photograph, one of the techniques I’ve been working on learning. I also like to create, and photography gives me the opportunity to do that (and is something I can do, you don’t want to see something I’ve tried to create by painting or drawing!). I’m thankful for the opportunities that photography has provided to learn and create.
8. All the great people I have met: I’m always going to have a need to spend time by myself and photography is a great way for me to do that. However, an unexpected benefit of getting into photography has been all the great people I have met. I have met so many wonderful people and made so many good friends through photography…it really has been a great, supportive group of people. I’m very thankful for that.
9. The ability to share photographs and be inspired by others: The opportunities to share photographs today is almost overwhelming. Social media has really transformed our world (for good and bad). A positive aspect for me has been the ability to share photographs. Everybody is going to create and share photos for different reasons. Personally, I enjoy sharing photographs to help show the awe and beauty of the world around us (no matter where you are) and hopefully inspire people to really see (i.e. experience) and appreciate their world. Of course I enjoy the rush of having photos “liked” but I’m most happy when my photos can bring back a pleasant memory for someone or when I hear that seeing one of my photos made someone happy. I also enjoy viewing the photography of other people from around the word. It is great to so easily be able to see scenes from around the world and to see how people around the globe view their world. I’m very thankful for the ability to easily share photos today and be inspired by other people’s photography.
10. Teaching: Another gift I never expected to get from photography was a love of teaching. I come from a family of teachers, but I never really thought about teaching until I had the chance to teach some photography classes. Teaching photography has helped me become a better photographer, a better presenter and public speaker (something that has also crossed over and helped my day job as a scientist). I’ve also met a lot of great people and made some good friends from teaching. I will always be grateful to UFM for the opportunity to teach and I’m thankful for everything teaching photography classes has brought to my life.
Of course I’m also thankful for anyone reading this post (thanks Mom!).