Postcards from Real Life: Building Bridges

Last weekend I scooted off to the Georgia Nature Photographers Association’s annual expo at Unicoi State Park. As you can imagine, an event like this is energizing in many ways. Getting to catch up with friends, letting my inner photography nerd run free amongst fellow enthusiasts, and meeting other inspiring photographers are just a few of the advantages.

Our keynote speaker was the impressive George Lepp, who you might know as the field editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and a Canon Explorer of Light. Obviously he’s got the credentials and lifetime experience of a well-respected professional photographer and, in his talks, he threw some seriously hard-core stuff at us… like making a composite image out of over 600 images.

Amidst showing us the mind-boggling extremes he goes to in his photography, what I loved about his talks was the over-riding message. He was very aware these techniques were well beyond what any of us was likely to do since the bulk of the audience consisted of photography hobbyists, not professionals. His point was to simply show us the possibilities and encourage us to dip our toes into trying new and different ideas with whatever amount time we spend in the photography realm… to show us how far we can take it if we so choose.

Here’s the surprise that I came home to, though. The day after returning from the GNPA event, I was chatting with my buddy Lesli of 365 Atlanta Family. Our blogs are both a hybrid of indoor and outdoor adventures but I’m largely considered an outdoor blogger since the bulk of my content skews that direction.

In our discussion, I realized that we “outdoor” bloggers can seem a little bit unapproachable because we’re so immersed in what we’re doing. Our tales of epic adventures make the budding or more casual outdoor enthusiasts feel intimidated.

That’s problematic because for us since our goal is to encourage people to get out and explore, not scare them away. But like George Lepp, it’s our job to show you the possibilities, even if you don’t go to the extremes we do. Our adventures are not meant to a template for your own, they’re meant provide inspiration. You have to write your own story from there.

So please… take our stories and advice and put them into play in your own lives in whatever way inspires you. Know that we are always thrilled to see new explorers on the trails. And we’re here to help. We want to build the bridges that encourage our readers to explore.

We all have different motivations, goals, and visions for our experiences and we get to define our own individual ways of doing what we do, whether it’s photography, hiking, climbing, or whatever. It’s just important that we do it, do it on our own terms, and not let others define what our experience should look like… or be held back because we aren’t the poster-child for it.

If we share a love of something, there’s no need to turn it into a dividing line. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a bridge to understanding and connection. Cheers…

Whether you’re a occasional visitor or a constant one, this bridge is here for all of us.