Document The Journey

When you’re headed to a specific location for photography, don’t miss the many photo opportunities along the way

Last Autumn, my good buddy, Brian, and I took the afternoon to journey to a place called the Mossy Grotto in Oregon. It would be my first time visiting that area and Brian’s third. I had a good idea of what the destination looked like, all lush and verdant with lots of moss. I also knew that the hike to it was mostly uphill before a steep and rocky descent back down. The hike to the Mossy Grotto had me sucking lots of wind, fully realizing just how much I needed to work on improving my lung capacity.

It wasn’t a difficult or technical hike per se. It just required a lot of stops to catch my breath. It didn’t dawn on me until I got to the grotto—which was a bit of a disappointment, if I’m be honest—that I didn’t pull my camera out once during the hike in, and that bummed me out. I didn’t even reach for my iPhone, which is also out of character. So, I made a small resolution to have my camera in hand on the exit hike… once I successfully climbed back up the scree and dirt wall to the Indian Pots.

Brian forged ahead of me once we returned to the summit of the trail. It was much easier because everything was literally downhill from here. I told him that I’d be a bit slower, choosing to photograph the trail, which is something I rarely do. I admit that I had very little desire to shoot the trail on the way up because all of my energy was spent on getting one foot in front of the other while trying to get oxygen into my lungs. The way down gave me an opportunity to fully appreciate how splendid this place is. I typically shy away from trying to make sense of such a chaotic place with branches and leaves strewn all over the place but not this time.

I loved trying to find creative compositions from switchbacks and meandering paths that went in between gigantic tree trunks. Instead of trying to find the perfect spot, I let myself enjoy all the imperfections and randomness of nature. This was a really important lesson for me and it’s one that I hope you remind yourself of the next time you’re on a journey of your own.

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