Why Do Nature Photographers Love What They Do?

In this article, I share my opinion on what motivates nature photographers, perhaps from a perspective not often considered.

Fire Sky Sunrise Reflection in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula

I have always deeply enjoyed nature and the outdoors, but there was a moment when I realized I could share my experiences in nature through photography. It was a defining moment of my life. I remember how I felt the excitement, yet a deep calmness at the same time. I knew I found an additional strong sense of purpose, aligned with something that brought me tremendous satisfaction. I knew I could share that. And I felt the power.

But what happened wasn’t fully apparent until many years later, when I realized that I had I deepened my connection with nature.

Male American Kestrel Turning

Male Hooded Merganser in Fall Color Waters

At one time, our connection with nature was intrinsic to our survival. Our ancestors had a direct connection with nature, and the freedom to fully interact with all of the resources needed for their survival. And they developed and passed along the ability to learn from nature from generation to generation.

Pictured Rocks Wave Circle

Sunset Ice Embers in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula

Today, specialization has disconnected many of us from interacting with nature for our resources. And technology and computers can make it seem as if everything is understood and all questions are already answered, so we are less inclined to go out and interact with nature and discover what it has to offer.

Male Spruce Grouse Displaying

Male Scarlet Tanager

Nature photography does not offer us resources but is one of the most accessible ways to reconnect with nature, and this process is still intrinsic to the core of our existence. Our peace of mind and sanity once depended on this connection because if were disconnected for too long, we wouldn’t have survived.

Think about that…

Deep inside us, our drive to connect with nature will always be there. Its importance cannot be dismissed. It once defined what it meant to be free to determine our fate.

Snowy Fall Color Reflection

We are genetically programmed to derive satisfaction from connecting with nature – be it with all of our senses or just one. The sharing of nature photography may involve only one sense – sight, but the process of acquiring images always involves more senses – hearing, smell, etc.

Male Northern Harrier Drops Vole to Juvenile

When photographing nature you eventually experience moments of awe – when you witness nature’s beauty, power, or mysteries on display. When you capture those moments, you are creating. Framing, exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, cropping – they are all creative tools used to present your interpretation of your experience or to present what nature has offered with as much fidelity as possible.

Pied-billed Grebe Adult Meeting Chick

Snowy Owl Snowy Perch

Ordinarily, we do not have the mindset of creating. Yet the act of creating changes our emotional state and makes us feel more alive. It gives us a tremendous influx of positive energy.

And that gives us more power. The power to leave a passive mindset behind us. The power to supersede a negative emotional state. We all have the power to seek that energy and share it. This is the power I felt upon realizing I would commit to sharing my experiences in nature through photography.