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How Biophilia influences my photography

A self-portrait of Lori Rowland. The goal was to create a self-portrait that did not show my face.

Life in the Rear View Mirror

I remember starting out as a fresh young woman full of ideas and possibilities for my life. I could go anyplace I set my focus. Problem is, I chose instead to live my life spontaneously, to follow my heart wherever it wanted to go. I don’t know why I said, “Problem is…”, because in truth, I don’t have regrets about how things turned out. Intuitively, my heart seemed to know the way, even though my brain failed to come up with an approved road map.

Now it’s been more than a few years since I started out on my life’s journey and I have plenty to see when looking in my rear view mirror. Decisions that I made impulsively are all obviously part of a larger life scheme, even if I did not know it along the way.

How It All Began…

As a young girl, my father instilled in us a love of the outdoors. We skied, we camped, and we backpacked. We did just about anything as long as it was outdoors. My father is the first person to kindle my love of photography, giving me my first camera as a high-school graduation gift.

My stepfather built on what my father started. We had a rustic cabin in the woods of Eastern Oregon. When I say rustic, I mean rustic! It was an old cabin built in the 1880’s, I believe. It was part of an old mine. There was no electricity, no amenities, and the running water was literally a stream out the front door. When my stepfather was temporarily laid off one summer, we spent an entire summer break up in that little cabin in the woods. Those are among some of my happiest memories.

Following the examples of both my fathers, it makes sense that I would marry another outdoorsman. My husband, Dan, worked in the woods and we pretty much lived in our travel trailer for up to 6 months a year, only coming home on weekends to do laundry and go grocery shopping. Dan and I raised 2 fine boys who also love camping and being outdoors. As you can see, there is no room here for regrets.

So… Why all this Self-Reflection?

Recently, I listened to a podcast, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, The Biophilia Hypotheses. Biophilia is described as an innate love for the natural world. Edward O Wilson, an American Entomologist at Harvard, takes the hypothesis a step further and suggests that humans’ need to bond with nature and other living creatures may indeed have a genetic basis.

The Biophilia Hypothsis makes sense to me. Within the last 200 years, as we humans worked to improve our living conditions, we have slowly removed ourselves from living outdoors. Most of us now live and work indoors thus removing ourselves from living among landscapes, plants and animals. It seems only natural to rebuild the connection to nature that we have diminished with our improvements.

But what does Biophilia have to do with photography?

When I first started this web page, I chose to focus on photography only. Photography is a wonderful way for me to share and relive my experiences out in nature. I hope this is the connection that I have with you, a person who reads my blog or follows my Facebook page. It is my hope that my photos kindle and satisfy your need to stay connected to nature. That seems pretty basic and reasonable but I realize that there might be more to it.

Biophilia is the glue that bonds all the pieces of my outdoor life together. Photography is only the final output. Biophilia explains why I seek to be outdoors in so many ways, from traveling to new places in our RV, to snowshoeing along a quiet trail in winter. One of my favorite experiences is to go backpacking, to go places and see things that most people will never experience. It is not easy, it’s hard work but it holds the greatest reward. It’s the chocolate covered cherry on top of life!

By Looking in the Rear View Mirror, the Path Ahead Becomes Clear

Upon reflection, I can clearly see that every decision I have made has kept me true to my life path, a life lived outdoors. Did we ever buy a big fancy house? No. Do we drive fancy cars? No. Do we travel and explore? Yes. Do we spend our vacations and weekends hiking, camping and backpacking? Yes. Do we explore in our RV? Yes. Even when we are home, we are planning and preparing for our next big adventure.

Now, as our kids have grown and we look forward to the last chapters of our lives, we are taking steps to seek more freedom and spend more time traveling and for me, more time behind the lens. Within the next few years, we will sell our business and our house and hit the road in a nice travel trailer. We will go where our heart pleases and stay wherever we like, no reservations! Freedom to explore and discover more of the great outdoors!

What do you think? Does biophilia influence your life? I would love to hear your thoughts below. 🙂

Learn more about Biophilia.

Interview of Edward O Wilson on NOVA

Visit The Biophilia Hypothesis web page

Read Edward O Wlson’s Book on the subject.

More reading from my blog that you might enjoy, Off-Piste Photography & The Terroir of Photography

Want more than an occasional blog post? Check out my page on Facebook: Lori Rowland Photography – Oregon Exposures or Instagram lori_rowland-photography

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4 Responses

  1. Biopheliac here. We recently retired and I am able to spend much more time with my camera. I wonder if my Facebook friends are sick of me, but as I told friends whi see the photos, “I take so many, what else would I do with them.” I have found a wonderful group of Nature lovers to share on Oregon Nature Lovers and other sites. As to the RV, we lived in ours for three months before getting into our lovely home overlooking a river on the coast. The RV was fine. It was big enough and comfortable but parking it was not. We got tired of the people crammed so tight, longing for everything including longer showers and sewer hookups so went into private parks where they REALLY cram you in. We still go out a lot but there are so many of us with RVs and not enough places to put them. Even in Eastern Oregon we are amazed. And no reservations are tricky. Just my two cents. Enjoy.

    • Hi Kat… Yes indeed, they certainly do cram people into the RV parks. We prefer to dry camp out in the sticks someplace but it is becoming more and more difficult all the time which is very sad. I feel like the ear of experiencing the wild outdoors is becoming a thing of the past. It is very troubling that so many of our National Parks are becoming as jam-packed as shopping malls and the hoards of people are doing significant damage. Yet I crave my alone time in the outdoors. Thankfully, I can still backpack into solitary places. I am deeply concerned for well being of our future generations and our wild and scenic public lands.

    • Thank you, Shari. I suspect it is contagious among photographers… Perhaps as bad as GAS Syndrome! 😄

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