Photography and Listening to Your Inner Voice

photography, travel, trees, mesa verde national parkcolorado trees travel photographs
When I started in photography, the camera was guided by my eyes. While hiking a trail for example, I’d find a beautiful scene in the distance, guide the camera with my eyes and then make a photograph. As I started spending weeks living outdoors and photographing the land, I experienced times when the camera, and I, were being guided by something else. At first, it was Nature herself in the form of animals like coyotes, mountain lions and hawks who would appear nearby and lead me long distances to amazing scenes I’d have never found on my own.

     Now that I’m spending months each year photographing the land, I’m discovering times when the camera is being guided by yet something else, something unseen. You might call it an instinct, inner voice or spirit. But, whenever it happens and I follow its guidance, the experiences and photographs have been profound.

     For three consecutive days I felt pulled to photograph a certain cliff dwelling. When it happened I’d hike there, spend a few hours looking for what I was feeling called upon to photograph, and then leave without capturing a single image. Yesterday it happened again. This time though, I arrived near sunset as long shadows revealed features in the rocks that were hidden in daylight and I saw instantly what had been waiting days for me to discover and photograph.

     To best understand the photos I made that day, it will help to know that storytelling was of great importance to all early Native American people. Those stories were used to remember a tribe’s history, teach important lessons about values, life and spirituality, and more. One of these, a famous Blackfoot story I’ve known most of my life, helps explain the awe and excitement I felt when making the two photographs shown below.
colorado trees travel photographs


Naapi, the Old Man, came down from his home in the Sun to help his people,
the Blackfoot. When his work was done he said to himself, “I will go up
onto the highest mountain and change myself into stone.” He then hiked to
a crevice in the mountain, laid down with only his face peeking out, and
turned himself into a rock. He is still there, watching for people to
come looking for him.
~ Blackfoot Legend of Naapi


colorado trees travel photographs

Together For All Time


colorado trees travel photographs

Keeping Watch

 


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  1. June 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm | #1

    A moving experience. I know precisely what you are describing. Something nags at us to go back. When I go back, often I find nothing. Then, depending on the light or some other factor, I see it. Ah, it is our willful interference that makes us blind. I am fascinated by your journeys. I am not a subscriber to the mystical, but I am old and old people exchange sharper eyesight for vision, I think. I will follow you. thank you for sharing this experience. I have to think about all of this.

    • rickbraveheart
      July 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm | #2

      It’s great to have you following along now George, and my most heartfelt thanks for your lovely comments. I absolutely agree with you that at times it’s our willful interference which makes us blind. Certainly in my own life, I’ve come to know that Nature can be a fabulous teacher and a ‘stress manager.’. The more we’re out in Nature and can quiet our mind, slow down and open our hearts, the more she reveals (i.e. the more we suddenly see what’s been there all along.)

  2. June 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm | #3

    I got chills when I read this Rick. Profound and exciting – your patience has been rewarded.
    Am so fortunate to be able to read your blog and share these experiences of yours. The “Faces”are wonderful. Thank you!

    • rickbraveheart
      July 1, 2012 at 7:36 am | #4

      Each time I saw one of those faces for the first time, Lee, I felt chills as well and was filled with deep gratitude when they allowed me to photograph and share their images for others to see and appreciate on the blog. I’m so happy they touched you as well and so very grateful you shared your experience in seeing them.

    • rickbraveheart
      July 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm | #5

      I’m thrilled hearing how the rock formation photos gave you chills Lee. I know from your art that the land speaks to you as well and I have no doubt those formations would move you even more if you had the chance to see and experience them in person. (PS Sorry–I just discovered I’d posted this reply days ago but in a different blog post.)

  3. di
    July 1, 2012 at 8:21 am | #6

    WOW!
    Speechless …
    beyond words

    • rickbraveheart
      July 1, 2012 at 11:17 am | #7

      Thanks Di. Listening to those inner voices is so important in life, isn’t it.

  4. July 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm | #8

    I was glad to read this post about how you listen to your inner voice when guiding your camera. I do this with my writing and research. The quote you used from the Blackfoot is an example of one of the incredible synchronicities that happen when I allow myself to follow until I find what it is I’m being led to find. Not only that, I’m also getting to see the glyphs you photographed. Any that have to do with origins are the ones I’m researching, and I’m just beginning the search – I did not know the spiral represented where the people arose from the earth. Thank you for sharing this!

    • rickbraveheart
      July 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm | #9

      Oh I agree with you completely Madison. Although listening to those inner voices/sensings/intuitions sometimes takes a leap of faith, especially when the answer doesn’t reveal itself immediately, it’s continuing to honor those voices as well as the journey itself that’s often a great teacher. Best of luck in your research and many thanks for your kind comments on the blog.

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