Tag Archives: great smoky mountains national park

Elysian :: TN

19 Dec
Elysian :: TN

Elysian :: TN

 

I saw something over the weekend that reminded me that your perception of the world has a lot to do with how happy you are.  The basic idea is that things happen – good, bad, mundane, extraordinary –  but the way you interpret and react to them determines how successful and happy you are.  It goes hand in hand with one of my favorite phrases, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” (Epictetus).

That’s a powerful sentiment, when you think about it.  There will be difficult things in your life.  There will be speed bumps, there will be days where your entire life plan goes off course.  But you have a choice.  Do you choose to rise above, and embrace the positives?  Or do you choose to be defeated by it?

In my own life, I try (and frequently fail, but then try again) to meet challenges, to accept that things are difficult and to either see the positives or to keep my head down and push through until the difficult season has passed.  Hell, this past year alone has challenged me in a lot of ways, with serious family health issues, with heartache, with changes within the circle of people I rely on for support, financial challenges….  But in the end, we have just a finite time on this earth and I try to choose, every day, to work towards my best possible self, to tell myself that this too shall pass, that there is joy around the corner, and in the meantime, to work towards leaving the world a bit better than I found it.

That can mean any number of things.

You can choose to see the best in a bad day – the beauty of a beautiful sky, the opportunity to learn from a mistake (even if you frequently wonder when your “lessons” will start paying off), having a grateful attitude for the blessings you do have…

You can choose to do something kind for another person (or living creature) – a smile or bad joke when needed, verbalizing something you appreciate so they understand their worth to you, all the way up to grander gestures like gifts, or volunteering for a cause, or giving blood, or adopting from a local shelter and advocating for spaying and neutering…

You can choose to use your voice – we are all complicit when we remain silent about things that matter.  The problem, these days, is that we have so many wrongs to right that it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start.  Politics is hairy.  Tax laws, health care, the national monument debate…where do you even begin? Global warming is a thing (that recent starving polar bear video from NatGeo just hurts to watch).  There is genocide going on in the world.  Sex trafficking.  Sexual harrassment.  Discrimination.  Religious aggressions.  Civil wars.  It can be overwhelming, but we all have a responsibility to, at the very least, have civil discussions.  We can’t improve any problem by ignoring it.  So find your causes, the ones that are near and dear to your heart, and have a difficult conversation.  Listen to the opposing views.  Find some common ground on which you can begin to build a bridge.

In the end, how you react to the things life throws at you will determine things like how much joy you feel, or how much hope you feel.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are going to be overwhelmingly sad, or angry moments.  But if you keep this idea in mind that you can get through it by being aware of how you perceive a situation, then you will get through the difficult times with grace and find your way back to happiness quickly.

This particular photo was taken at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN.  So much thanks to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around to their favorite spots in the area!  They’re talented guys, make sure to check them out!

Also, big shoutout to David Pasillas (as always) for his patient feedback about my image edits.

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Feminine :: TN

26 Sep
Feminine :: TN

Feminine :: TN

(Alternate working title: Taken by a WOMAN with a NIKON)

This past week there has been a huge backlash against Nikon for a promotion-gone-wrong regarding their new d850 release. In short, the Nikon-Asia created a team of 32 professional photographers to be the face of their new camera. All male.

For those of you to whom I’ve casually mentioned the challenges of landscape photography’s boys club to… this is very visible example of what I meant. Time and again, I’ve come across gender bias in the genre of landscape photography, and in the cross-genre work I’ve done. The stats on things like brand ambassadors, speakers at conferences, juries at shows, etc simply aren’t reflective of the actual percentages of women working every day in the industry. I personally have been overlooked or lost opportunities because I was female. Women I am close with have been harassed and belittled, their skills as a photographer dismissed or questioned because they are female. Marketing, book sales and travel all come with an asterisk – a need to proceed cautiously because I’m female. Hopefully, our genre of photography continues to evolve, but the first step is education. One of the best things about our species is our capacity for critical thought, for introspection, and conscious evolution. I know WE CAN DO BETTER.

Nikon has since said they will strive to be better in the future. Hopefully more major brands follow their lead. There is an incredibly talented community of female photographers out there (I have a list of at least 270+ in landscape photography alone) who’s work is diverse, interesting and impactful. Isn’t it time you discovered some new artists? 😊

Big thanks to all of those supportive men already in the photography community. I’m blessed to call a lot of you friends, and you give me hope things will keep moving in the right direction.

In reality, gender bias is not the only issue we flawed humans face and in my mind, denying that these problems exist is illogical, especially when you can see tons of examples around the world of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.  Much like this particular issue with Nikon, I believe humans as a whole have opportunities every single day to do better, to be better, to grow and have empathy and understanding.  After all, our variety IS our strength.  The human race is a beautiful tapestry made up of vastly different experiences, cultures, sexes, nationalities, religions and ways of expressing love.  To insulate yourself with only a small segment of the population is like reading just the first page of your favorite novel.  You’ll never see the richness and depth around you. Choose love. ❤

Ok, hopping off the soapbox now.  If you read this far, this is a quiet spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  A huge thank you to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around their stomping grounds while we were visiting.  They’re great guys, and if you are looking for workshops in that area, I urge you to check them out! Here’s a little bonus shot of Zach, who is shooting a year of film, using his large format rig during this stop. 🙂