6th Annual Photo Alphabet – Metaphors to Place

M is for Metaphors.

Looking at the Past

Mission Past © 2013 Bo Mackison

Much is happening in the coming year. For the past year, I’ve been defining myself and my work, considering who my “perfect people” are – those who most connect with my work – and what I might offer of value.

And so I offer my first online workshop.

Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror © 2013 Bo Mackison

Photography and Metaphor: A Springboard into Self-Expression and Exploration will take place in February 2014.

We will focus on making photographs to use as metaphors. Then we’ll use our “photo metaphors” as creative springboards into contemplative writing and other expressive arts projects.

Details and registration information will be announced in early January.


N is for National Parks.

Grand Canyon 7:26 PM

Grand Canyon 7:26 PM © 2012 Bo Mackison

I have a deep and lengthy love affair with the National Parks and Monuments.

I visited many National Parks on family vacations in the 1960s. Sherpa and I spent our honeymoon at a national park. When our children were of a long distance traveling age, we assembled our family of five and took three-week long, cross-country trips, exploring and camping at National Parks and Monuments whenever we could. Sherpa and I still travel to National Park destinations. And when I travel alone, once again, I map my travels so I can visit the National Parks.

At the end of each year, I note the parks I’ve visited in the past 12 months. They are easy to recall, because I record each visit in a National Park Passport. Whenever I visit a park, I stamp my book. It’s a ritual I’ve been doing since 1997, and I’m currently stamping my third passport book.

Parks I visited in 2013.

On day trips or weekend camping trips in Arizona:

Saguaro NP, Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Chiricahua NM, Coronado NM, and Tumacacori NHP.

While traveling on my Circle Tour of Arizona in April, long distance practice for my solo cross-country trip:

Casa Grande Ruins NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Tonto NM, and Tuzigoot NM.

While on my cross-country trek from the Southwest to the Midwest:

Petrified Forest NP, Mesa Verde NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Scotts Bluff NM, Agate Fossil Beds NM, Mount Rushmore NM, Wind Cave NP, Jewel Cave NM, Badlands NP.  No wonder it took me so long to get home, zigzagging to visit out-of-the-way parks!

When traveling with family:

Lassen Volcanic NP, Redwoods NP (California)

Twenty in all. Wow!


O is for Oceans.


Olympia © 2013 Bo Mackison

Some of my most memorable times of this year I spent standing on ocean shores, mesmerized with the infinite waves. I never tired of studying the constant, yet ever-changing waves.

Staring out into the ocean triggers my imagination.

There is nothing but the relentless pounding surf, and yet an entire world exists in its depths. Even though my feet are solidly upon the sandy or rocky shore, I feel a resonance with the deep beyond, a connection I can only imagine.

Relentless. Changing. Hidden depth. And a connection, strong and intangible.


P is for Place.

Light Puzzle

Light Puzzle © 2013 Bo Mackison

I am intensely devoted to place.

Place is the setting I settle into, deeply, with reverence, with attention. A place of nature, history, culture. Urban, rural, wilderness. A visit in solitude, with a friend, or be one in a crowd of people.

I see the sacred in all places.

There are rare times when I want only to be one with the place, experience it with only with my senses, unencumbered by camera or journal. But I feel most in synch with place when, after I have absorbed the space in quiet, I then reinforce my memory with my photography or journal practice.


Territorial Architecture in Tubac

Place © 2013 Bo Mackison

One of my joys, when I contemplate a place, is to take a set of deliberate photographs.

This may seem at odds with taking inspired, intuitive, capture-the-moment shots. I don’t believe so. I take those kinds of instinctive photographs also. My deliberate photographs of place purposely expose a larger view of place, capturing it in different moods.

To collect a set of place photos, I take photographs that may include: a panoramic view, a landscape, perhaps a portrait or an intimate landscape (a photo of a subject in the context of the landscape), and a close up photo.

Place photos can capture moods — such as the first photo of layers of leaves captured in sunlight. They can capture the feel of a place in its architecture and surrounding details.

When I combine photographs with a few words, I create a photo-journal of place – a contemplative portrait documented in my art.


Prior post: Invitation to Labyrinth

Next post: Quilt to Trees

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. www.http://debibradford.wordpress.com says:

    You have been so busy, Bo! This laptop is making commenting difficult. Weird keyboard. LOVE this installment. National Parks – YES! Your workshop – YES! Yay YOU!

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