From the beginning of my wife Lisa and I’s relationship, water has played an integral part in some of our fondest memories. From our first date jumping from cypress trees on the banks of the Frio River in the Texas Hill Country, to watching the waves crash against the cliffs of the west coast for the first time in Big Sur on our honeymoon. Nothing puts a bigger smile on our faces quite like being immersed in a good lake, river or ocean.
Paddling the still waters of Cleawox lake coerced that same shagrin. The deafening sound of silence and the enveloping weight of stillness really draws you in. There are few better ways to experience an environment like that than from the inside of a kayak.
It’s during those moments that I often find myself taking stock of prized memories made on other bodies of water. That’s usually also when my conscience chimes in; I’m not always fully present in those moments, am I?
Ever since I started working toward a photo-centered career, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult theme to practice. It’s a self-induced problem, but I think those on the outside looking in often only see the glamourous side we share and forget that with any creative pursuit, there are pressures of various types. Pressure to produce, to not let comparison beat you up, pressure to be original in a volatile sea of trends. All those things can congeal into a hairy three-eyed monster of distraction if you let it. Is my love of the outdoors driven by the content I create at its expense? If a moment happens in the woods and no one’s there to photograph it, did it really happen? Those pressures affect different people in different ways, but I think the magic pill is simple-- just slow down.
Like a well worn self help tape, I repeat this mantra: "camera down, eyes wide open, be present." No hashtags, like buttons or insights, just images that never leave the interior of my head space. I’m aware that this message doesn’t apply to everyone and I’m almost envious in some small way of those of you who don’t wrestle with fear of missing “the shot.”
I also realize what I’m getting at isn’t an earth shattering concept. The importance of being in the present moment has been preached before and I won’t be the last to do so, either. In the off chance you’ve never heard the message though, let me be the first to encourage you to try it. Sharing a moment in the out of doors with only you and those around you can be freeing in a way.
Maybe next time you’re out there, wind up that pantomime Kodak disposable a time or two. Save a moment to be remembered on a rainy day you can only picture when you close your eyes.