My Bliss – A Guest Post by Debi Bradford

This is the fifth and last of the guest posts from some of my blog visitors who  answered the question “How has photography, no matter your expertise or experience, had a positive impact on your life?” (This was a question I’ve been exploring in my recent series Why Photography?)

This guest post was written by Debi Bradford and accompanied by two of her favorite photographs.

American White Pelican Flying © 2010 Debi Bradford

Long ago I fancied myself as an amateur photographer.  As a young lass armed with a 35mm Yashica I dabbled in nature photography and took portraits of friends and family.  Tons of early, mediocre images lie fallow and fading in Tupperware boxes on a shelf.  My hobby took a backseat first to career and then family before being forgotten altogether over time.

Quite unexpectedly interest sparked once again when we moved to the lake away from subdivisions and concrete, traffic and rush hours.  Suddenly, I was exposed to fantastic sunrises and sunsets, wild storms and wildlife.  Simultaneously  I discovered the immediate gratification of digital photography.  Hooked, I began exploring the wilds of our area and discovered the joy of writing about my experiences.  Sharing about nature in blogs and in magazines I have found a joy, my bliss.

However, as to Bo’s Question, “Why Photography?”  some points come to mind:

Photography is an activity within which I can both find myself and lose myself at the same time.

Literally focusing on something other than myself opens my mind toward reflection of larger things.   Contemplation of nature and its creatures, its cycles, its seasons, observing the earth and the heavens keeps me grounded.

Sensory Experiences

The peace and quiet; sound of water, wind, insects and birds; smell of woodsmoke and flowers, riverbanks and mosses; observing the  intensity of clouds and storms, enjoying a golden late afternoon light playing across bark and leaves, diamonds of light twinkling on water; the joy of discovering creatures and places.  In nature all my senses come into play for there’s no competition.  Have you ever watched a praying mantis hunt?  The mantis slowly begins to sway in tune with the surrounding foliage, becoming one with the leaves and branches, matching the natural movements around it.  It blends in; becomes part of the scene.  That’s what I do, oftentimes walking and sitting for an hour before ever picking up the camera.  Soak it in and breathe it, become it, enjoy it, embrace it before trying to capture that special feeling given by Spirit creates a visceral memory with each frame.

Solitude and Spirituality

It’s very Zen and meditative; calming.  When my soul is at its most restless and unhappy I seek being outdoors by myself, just me and my camera.  For it is there, outside, where  I feel great peace and the full measure of Spirituality flows through me like warm honey.  Disengaging from the mindless busyness of the day-to-day and engaging in the clear, focused reality of Life through photography is when I feel Spirit intensely.

Atkeson Cypress Trail © 2010 Debi Bradford

Magic and Joy

The normal person might see a white pelican and simply be gladdened by the experience, if that.  However, when I see a white pelican I want to capture the experience, record the bird’s essence, upload it, look at it a thousand times and broadcast it to the heavens.  It’s my way of shouting for joy … Look!  A WHITE PELICAN!  Isn’t that amazing?!  It’s photographing frame-by-frame the immersion of a butterfly from its cocoon and feeling that wonder deep, deep inside every time I see those images.  Photography is sheer magic to me.  It’s the joy of sharing the wonder of our earth and its creatures.   It’s a visual journal of a life experience.

Photojournalism

Photography has become even more than just capturing an image.  It’s sharing it with others of like minds through my other two passions – computers and writing.  Blogging combines all three and connects me with other like-minded individuals around the world.  Many photographers are content to let the photograph tell the story as that’s what works for them.  However, describing nuances that the photo simply cannot convey – how I found the shot, sharing about a particular place or telling the story of how the event changed my life – fulfills me.  There’s a story to every photograph, and those are the details that make the image rich and meaningful.

Giving Back

It is through my photography of nature that I give back to non-profit organizations whose mission it is to preserve wild spaces.  Nature preserves and wildlife refuges are important to me.  Photographs taken on nature preserves and/or wildlife refuges grace the cover of greeting cards and I give a percentage of sales to the corresponding non-profit.  It’s my way of saying Thank You, my way of helping and giving back.

So for me photography isn’t just a hobby, it completes me and takes me full circle.  I take pictures because I cannot NOT take pictures.  I am simply, blissfully, a photographer.

Debi Bradford lives in Alabama and is a photographer, blogger, and lover of nature. She shares her photography and writing on her blog Giraffe Head Tree.

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.

Comments

  1. Wilda Davis says:

    Ahhhhhhh, Debi. I love the pics, but I continue to be amazed at your writing ability. I enjoyed the story so much.

  2. Bo Mackison says:

    Debi, this is lovely. Your writing sums up the essence of photography for many of us, and the photographs — well, they are pure bliss. Thank you for sharing this with Seeded Earth readers and me.

  3. Very well said Debi, your love of nature truely shows through in your photography!

  4. WOW! You and me – both. It’s as if we come from the same place!! Thank-you for sharing. It’s nice to know there are others out there..like me!!!

  5. Bo Mackison says:

    Amazing, isn’t it Marcie. I feel the same way. Finding other photographers who shoot for the reasons I shoot. It’s a great feeling.

  6. Thanks, everyone. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s articles and have met many a kindred spirit! Thank you SO MUCH, Bo, for this delightful opportunity to guest post on your amazing blog. Now… where ARE you, dearie? What delights are you photographing yourself? We’re all waiting with baited breath…!

  7. Debi sums it up perfectly. I relate absolutely to the “zen of photography.” And what a joy to find your website Bo. Beautiful work!

    Cheers!
    Julie
    Julie Magers Soulen Photography

  8. Beautiful described and written and the photos are terrific! It’s all about being in touch, isn’t it.

  9. I enjoyed the photos you shared and the insight into your love of nature.

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