What is it with Man and Nature?

I’m a nature photographer. Whenever I take my camera out I do it with open eyes, an open mind, and an open heart. I connect, I engage, I interact, and receive so much back.

Nature photographers come in many different shapes and sizes. We use photography in a documentary way to preserve what we have seen as accurately as possible. We see photography as an expressive art to convey our most personal and intimate feelings. We create abstractions of colour and shape designed to please the eye and trigger the imagination of our audience.

Winter Forest © Astrid Preisz 2022. All Rights Reserved.

In whatever way we want to express ourselves as nature photographers, we have one thing in common: there is something out there that fascinates us, intrigues us, and moves us. If that wasn’t the case, wouldn’t we just go and take photos of something else?

So, with this inherent fascination with whatever nature can be – the beauty, the ugliness, the ferocity – isn’t it the most natural thing in the world to preserve the central motivation for our work? One would think so.

 And then we hear or read stories about “nature photographers” who trample flower fields, disturb breeding sites, bait animals – just to get the “perfect shot”.

 What is it with man and nature? Why do we so light-heartedly and short-sightedly destroy what we ought to protect? How can we make photos of something we obviously find unique and beautiful and exciting enough to interact with, and at the same time have so little respect for it that we don’t hesitate to harm or destroy it?

 Is it the money? Is it the fame? Is it the thousands of likes on Instagram?

Creek © Astrid Preisz 2022. All Rights Reserved.

For me, being out in nature does not necessarily mean visiting epic places of obvious beauty. For me being out in nature mostly means discovering the anonymous and hidden treasures – a little stream, water jumping over rocks, ice on a puddle, a withered leaf, the pattern of lichen on a tree trunk.

Whenever I engage with nature, I get my reward – not in the form of money for the perfect shot but in the form of healing, happiness, and peace. What is a photo worth if the experience behind it hasn’t touched my mind and soul? To preserve this world for all its inhabitants, including humankind, we can never be nature’s masters but must be its servants, its steward, and protectors.

 I’m a nature photographer and for me nature will always come first.