What We Do Matters!
It seems common these days to hear that we live in turbulent times but, indeed, what time in history wasn't turbulent in some way or another? With such topics at stake as climate change, renewable energy, nuclear proliferation, and what may be the beginning of a global food crisis, we are no longer talking about the fates of distinct individuals or even nations - what we do today may play a critical role in the survival and welfare of all humanity.
I don't mention these things to arouse a political discussion, but rather to examine a less-obvious aspect of them: the role of art, and the role of creative individuals in such times, and particularly the role of those of us whose art is directly derived from natural subjects and who aspire to witness, experience, and share those times and places humanity has yet to significantly alter.
It's easy to dismiss images of pristine beauty, glimpses of rare moments, and extraordinary appearances of life or natural elements as "pretty pictures." And, indeed, to many that's all they are. Such images are often considered for their decorative value alone and some people, let's be honest, are simply too bitter or cynical to appreciate them even for that. But there is another, far more powerful meaning to these works - for many of us who go to great length and effort to seek them, they are more than just trophies or wall coverings; they are a bold statement in defiance of very real forces at play. Every "oh" and "wow" and "is that real?" and "can you take me there?" that our works elicit is yet another little vote in favor of conservation, another second thought about sprawl and logging and mining and drilling, another yearning for far away places and the spiritual treasures they hold, or another moment of self-examination of personal priorities.
Grand canyons are not carved in a day, mountains don't erupt out of the earth overnight, and deeply-held opinions may not be swayed by a single image, but persistent powers prevail over time. I encourage you, fellow wilderness lovers and creative photographers to keep doing what you do and to keep working harder and harder at it. You may never see a revolution in your lifetime, and any change you may witness may be small and feel minute in the face of immense odds. But, one image at a time, we are are expressing our defiance, we are educating the skeptical, we are making a difference, and in the grand scheme of things what we do matters. It matters a lot.