So off I went, full of vigour and excitement and thinking the three weeks I’d spend in New Zealand would allow me to document the people of the country and return with a bursting portfolio of faces and stories. I couldn’t wait to talk about all the different people, their experiences and their timelines to when I’d met them.
I wanted to return with countless tales to recount to you all complete with meaningful, raw photos which completed the picture I was painting in word.
But this didn’t happen. As time rolled on, commitments to the adventure meant I didn’t get the time to source and shoot people, and the spontaneous times I found faces I thought would fit the bill, I decided against it last minute. At first, I found myself frustrated at this, annoyed that I wanted to return with a complete project to show the world and was lacking momentum. But then I realised something – New Zealand was giving me something much more important with a much longer half-life.
I had the space and the time to reconnect to everything around me but especially with nature (this isn’t an Eat Prey Love story, so hear me out); I’ve always felt re-energised after spending time in the thick of it, at coastlines and forests, on the side of mountains or on a lake somewhere and reflecting on my work, I really see this come through in my creative projects. The more I’ve looked at this, the more I’ve realised that perhaps I’ve been trying to tell myself something, to drive home the message that I need those times in natural environments to recharge and to create something meaningful.
And maybe, this is a bigger story I need to tell. Maybe it’s about everyone’s connection to our environments, the way we draw on them to tell our own stories and build our own unique concepts. They're as much our fingerprint as the way we look and how we act.
As the trip went on, I worked hard on refocusing and letting go of any frustration, instead giving myself the permission to explore New Zealand in a different way, to document life beyond the missed everyday and bring something to the fore, to bring something much greater home with me when I returned.
Long trips in countries that love their environments as much as New Zealand does has a way of rubbing off on you, it forces you to feel and to the connect. The people have this unique way of building a culture that cushions and empowers you at the same time, allowing you to explore in your own way. And that’s not to say I visited and found myself - I haven’t felt lost - but it did help me reconnect to that which is important and start to recognise and embrace how I use natural environments in my work.
I write this at 32,000 ft, flying home and with a brain full of concepts I want to realise with some special people this year.
So, here’s to nature.