Is the Camera a Key to Experiences?

Is the Camera a Key to Experiences?

Landscape photographers use a camera to capture stunning images, but have you stopped to think about how the same camera is a key to experiences? A key to new places. A key to new adventures. A key to an enhanced experience with nature. A key to meeting new people. 

The Beginning

The hobby of landscape photography starts innocently enough. We buy a camera because we want something a little nicer than our phone. You take it with you to the local park and start taking pictures. 

Those walks become more frequent. Then you are reading more and more articles about photography or watching more videos about photography. You start consuming anything to improve your craft of photography. 

The photography bug has bitten. 

Doors Begin to Open

From this point forward, the camera becomes the key to experiences and more than just a tool to capture images. It starts with exploring beyond your local area. You start researching and planning trips regionally, maybe to places close to home you haven’t visited before. Or perhaps neighboring states to check out landscape photography.

Lower Falls, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Eventually, you start planning trips to more iconic locations. Planning longer and longer road trips. Planning flights, either cross-country or internationally, with the intent to visit places for your landscape photography. With planning, these trips become a reality and you find yourself in amazing locations, camera in hand, and capturing landscape images. The camera was key to these explorations of new places. 

The camera has led me to many regional state parks I would never have considered visiting. The camera has led me to distant national parks within the US for landscape photography.

Enhanced Experiences in Nature

As the camera leads you to exploration — traveling regionally and further to practice the landscape photography craft, it doesn’t stop there. As you continue to explore, your senses become more in tune with the natural landscape around you. You transcend from being a tourist in these locations and begin to truly experience these locations at a new level. You notice the light. The soft glow of sunrise or sunset. Dappled light across a mountain valley or the surrounding hills and mountains. How the light hits a tree trunk in the forest.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

You notice and pay attention to weather conditions more — rain, snow, fog, frost  — all weather elements that can add to and enhance your landscape photos. You start thinking about how specific locations will be affected by the predicted weather and planning outings to visit during those times.

All these things you begin to notice because of the camera. The camera led you to pay even closer attention to your natural environment. The camera is key to these enhanced experiences in nature.

I have become much more aware of noticing how the light falls and the weather — even when I am not actively out photographing. The camera has made me more in tune with these experiences outside. My appreciation has grown in the outdoors, even when the camera isn’t in hand.

Meeting Other Photographers

The camera is more than just a key to visiting new locations near and far or opening yourself up to being more aware of the natural world around you - but it can be a key to meeting new people. The camera opens doors from online communities for landscape photographers to meeting other local photographers. 

From frequent conversations with Instagram friends (whom I have yet to meet in person) to meeting some of these same people on destination trips - the camera has helped me meet these new like-minded people. People with similar interests. People who like to talk about the same photography things. People with different artistic styles help me see landscapes differently and grow my approach.

In many ways, a camera has been a key to experiences and opportunities I might not have otherwise had. How about you? How has the camera been a key to experiences for you?

Jeffrey Tadlock's picture

Jeffrey Tadlock is an Ohio-based landscape photographer with frequent travels regionally and within the US to explore various landscapes. Jeffrey enjoys the process and experience of capturing images as much as the final image itself.

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Absolutely! I would have never made the trip to Churchill, Manitoba were it not for my desire to see/photograph the polar bears.

I bet that was an amazing trip! I've only heard about Churchill, but I listen to the Wild and Exposed podcast and Drew lives in Churchill, so I feel like I get to hear about the town and the polar bears a fair amount.

If you ever have the chance, go! It's quite remote and you can only get there by plane or train. Long lens and something like a 24-70 since, if you're lucky, a bear will wander right up to the buggy. One other thing; if your prone to motion sickness, take precautions. The tundra buggies are on big float tires and the terrain is rock n' rolly. I was lucky to have a whole seat to myself so every time we were on the move I could lay down. Yea, I'm very prone to motion sickness. :-(

I have considered a trip, especially with listening to them talk about Churchill on Wild and Exposed!

I didn't know that about the tundra buggies! I bet that's something else. It sounds like just an amazing/unique experience all around!

The buggies are the only way you can get to the bear's territory. Manitoba law forbids any other way of traversing the area because the bears, as cuddly as they look, see us as snacks. :-) The town of Churchill has a full time set of rangers that are there to protect the town from the bears. They have an amazing setup to keep the people and the bears safe. Note the cameras sticking out of the windows:

Wow! That thing looks like a beast! I’ll need to start learning more about Churchill!

I absolutely agree. This article is like a description of my story.
Traveling and photography have merged into one passion.
It would just take more time and money :)

I hear you on that! I could definitely use both - time to travel more and money to support that habit. It is funny how a camera leads one to seek out new adventures and places!

Folks come to photography from many different starting points. The same can be said of most any pastime, hobby or vocation. It means different things to different people. My path did not mirror what you describe here. I have also make conscious choices to go places either specifically for photography or not. Obsession leads to burnout.

Definitely lots of starting points for photography, travel, or any hobby! Helps keep things interesting! And yes - too much of something can certainly lead to burnout, there is a balance.

Ah, a philosophical question. Yes, but is not THE key. It is a key tool combined with all the elements within the process of creating an image. When asking this type of question you have to take into account all elements which cause the effect you're talking about. The scene too is part of that process. You yourself are part of it. It's not just one thing.

I like that! The camera is just one part of the puzzle. Interesting thought. Appreciate the insight!