On Living the Quiet Life

The Old BoatFor much of my life, at least over the past 15 years or so, I have been a consummate adventurer; always driven to travel to new places, see new things and push my own limits. It has been very much how I defined myself and one of the driving forces behind my photography. I wanted to capture the beauty and preserve the memories of the things I was seeing and doing.

But over the past year, that has all changes. With the birth of my daughter just shy of a year ago, my world got a lot smaller. I have had very little time for adventures of any kind and have been stuck very close to home both because I have been working so much to support my family and out of a strong desire to be with them as much as possible.

At first I felt a bit put off by the lack of adventuring. “This is what I do and who I am,” I thought. “And how am I supposed to keep working on my photography and making great images if I can’t go anywhere?” But as time has passed, I have come to appreciate the beauty of this quiet life I lead, and learned that there is adventure to be found along with the capacity to make even more compelling and meaningful images.

The adventure that I find in this new life is of the internal kind, which is not quite as glamourous and the external kind that takes you to far-flung places and hair raising situations, but offers infinite rewards if you persevere. I conform to the rhythms of my daughter’s routine, spend time with her and watch her grow – and in the process I learn as much about myself as I do about her. When the urge comes to head off somewhere remote for an adventure with my camera, I often have to overcome it and settle for going somewhere close by for a shorter time – or just a walk in the neighbourhood. I may feel resentful for a while, but I always come to the conclusion that it’s for the greater good and the benefit of a life that is much larger than my own now.

And I have also noticed a change in the kinds of images I make in this new life and adventure. By constantly revisiting the same places nearby my home that may have seemed ordinary and mundane before, I have been able to see them with new eyes; look beyond the ordinary and the obvious to find the subtler details. I have most of the visual features catalogued in my mind and they change with the seasons, the water levels, the light and my mood. The more I go there, the more images that make themselves known to me. I have a backlog of compositions I would like to make – when the season or light is right.

The images I make these days feel different to me. They feel more charged with emotion and more truly representative of how I feel about what I see – instead of just a visual record of what is actually there. I feel more connected to my subjects and at greater liberty to experiment with them – both in camera and during post processing – to show my personal vision and feelings about my tiny world and the quiet life I lead.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love a great adventure and photographing a grand, remote landscape. But I have learned that there are adventures and inspiration to be found in the most unexpected places – and making great images means looking beyond the simple appearances to find the deeper meaning within.


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