“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
At times, when I come home with a picture like this, I again realize how insufficient the division of photography into genres is. Sure, the waterfall is part of a landscape – which is not shown here. And sure, the photo shows something in nature – but is that what it is about? Of course, part of the problem lies in the rather artificial boundary we draw between nature and ourselves. We don’t call street photography wildlife art even though there usually appear a lot of animal creatures (of the species Homo sapiens and Canis familiaris) in it. In a way, I think nature photography is a genre in which “things merge into one” as Maclean writes. Let me explain.
I used to fly-fish in the rapids of the river Vantaa shown above. And it was through fly-fishing that I came to photography. I remember once sitting on a rock in the middle of a river far up in the North. The fishing was low, but I really didn’t care because the river had taken over my senses. The sounds of the river filled my ears and staring at the flows and eddies put me in a kind of visual trance. This induced a strange sensation as if the river was flowing through me. And it was good just to be there. I didn’t think of careers or things to have. I didn’t think of cars and houses, better fishing rods or gear, I didn’t think of fishing at all. I needed no purpose.
I don’t do much fishing nowadays, but I found the same experience also on mountains, deep in the forest and at the sea. There, the mood of the landscape can do what the river did. Words seemed to me insufficient to describe the sensation and thus I started on this quest to show it in photographs. But if I had to describe it, the feeling is about still being part of this powerful stream of nature. And I mean not being a mere observer but truly still a part of it.
Urbanization has left us strangely incomplete. Many people seem to feel this; they hunger for the smallest spot of green and long after something they find hard to describe. I think nature is as much part of our humanity as is culture. Listening to the river and the feeling to be still being welcome there seemed to heal something in me I didn’t even know was broken. And I often wonder would it work for others, would we as humankind be in a better place if we listened to the river more. Nature photography is for me therefore as much about humanity as it is about nature. It is an invitation to completion and if it tugs at your heartstrings maybe it is time to go out and to listen to a river. The river has so much to say.