Making a positive difference to the landscape

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It has been suggested to me that I’m prone to looking too deeply at aspects of my photography. It’s an interesting observation and in limited respects I agree, but my traits of self-analysis and questioning my work as a photographer is the thing that drives me forward to search for meaning, purpose and an informed direction. I believe that we should be strong judges of our work and recognise the difference between a great photograph and a photograph that fulfils our own creative desires. This doesn’t take the enjoyment out of photography, quite the opposite. Every outing is thoroughly enjoyable but achieving a vision that you’ve strived towards is deeply rewarding.

Characterful Scots Pine during a flurry of snow

Putting the creative fulfilment aside, my introspective approach has also taught me a very important lesson – the natural world has given me immeasurable benefits as a creator, as a livelihood and as a person. I try to make my photographs about experience and wanting to capture the very essence of what woodland, trees and nature mean to me. This love, connection and desire to celebrate the quiet corners of my local countryside has evolved into a level of understanding and care that compels me to give something back. I rely upon the landscape for enjoyment, therapy and to earn a living. It’s my moral duty to not just take for myself but to take positive steps that enrich my relationship with nature and encourage change.

A family of Scots Pine in the Caledonian Forest
A family of Scots Pine in the Caledonian Forest

In September 2018 I held a raffle at my photography exhibition near Helmsley in North Yorkshire. I used the proceeds from the raffle to set up a woodland grove with 27 trees through Trees For Life, with a view to continually add to the grove and help Trees For Life achieve their long-term vision of restoring the wild Caledonian Forest and all the amazing plants and animals that would have once lived there. I created a video with the help of Joe Cornish to express some of our feelings about the landscape and how a deeper connection with nature may improve and inform our photography.

We don’t always have to express something meaningful with our work but I do believe that my own photography benefits from an understanding and connection with the locations that I immerse myself within and the subjects I choose to capture. As my following has increased on YouTube and Instagram, I’ve felt my passion for woodland photography strengthen. I’ve been fortunate enough to have received fantastic support from around the globe and so it makes perfect sense for that support to spill over into helping projects that share our passion for the thing that has transformed the well-being of myself and thousands of other landscape photographers – nature. Making choices that align us with nature’s needs more closely can be very enriching and ultimately improve and inform our photography.

As Joe passionately articulated in the video,

“Ultimately our photography is in some way a reflection of how we see the world, the things we care about. Thinking about what we love, and why, might make the process of making images that translate our view of the world more accurate and more fulfilling. If life is in some sense a search for fulfilment then finding the meaning in what we do must be part of that. As nature photographers I believe that we have to see ourselves as a force for good. If so, then our individual actions really do count.”

Plant a tree in my woodland grove for just £6

Together, we really can make a difference. I’m incredibly grateful for my followers but my YouTube channel can be about something much bigger than an individual and his dog, so I’d like to ask for your support in helping a fantastic environmental project. Simply follow the link below and click the ‘Add trees to this grove’ button – be sure to leave your name and a comment to be in with a chance of winning a limited edition print (closing date: 17th March 2019).

Add a tree to Meg’s Grove

Copyright Joe Cornish