Mesa Arch, Writer, Ted Salon discussed on TED Talks Daily

TED Talks Daily
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Features travel photographer and writer Erin. Sullivan recorded live at Ted Salon. Crossover Twenty nineteen. What is the most beautiful place you have ever been and when you were there? Did you take a picture of it. Here's a place that tops that list for me. This is Mesa Arch in Kenya Lands National Park in Utah at Sunrise. It's the traditional the homeland of the Pueblo. Ute and Navajo people and when you are there. It is absolutely stunning. The sunrise illuminates the bottom of the arch arch orange and then behind it. You see these boots and clouds and cliffs but while you might not see is the thirty people behind me who are also taking photos and these these are just the committed people the sunrise people right so when you think about that there must be hundreds if not thousands of photos of Mesa arch taken every week. I've been sharing my photography on instagram. For years and it started to become really interesting and funny even just how many similar photos of the same places I started to see online and I was participating in it so this made me wonder. Why are we taking photos in the first place? Sometimes I visit a popular landmark and I see all the people with their phones and cameras out who snap a photo just to turn and get back in the car walked back to the trail head and sometimes it seems like we are missing the point of you know going to this place to experience it for ourselves or to see it with our own is when I'm behind the camera. I notice the smallest details. The layers of light in the mountains as the light fades at the the end of the day the shapes that nature so expertly makes abstract and yet completely perfect. I could go on and on here musing about the intricacies intricacies of this planet and the way that it makes me feel photographing the beauty and complexity of this world for me is like making a portrait of someone that I love and when I make photograph I have to think about what I wanted to say. I have to ask myself what I wanted to feel. Like when you're communicating through an image every creative choice matters sometimes I plan to share my images and other times I take them just for myself. I currently host a video series on the future of the outdoors adores and from one of the episodes we wanted to explore the relationship between photography and outdoor spaces learned about the research of Kristen deal and her colleagues at. USC See who studied photo taking effect on enjoyment levels. They found that when we were behind the camera. And we're the ones taking the picture. We enjoy our experiences. More not less less. But it wasn't true all the time if the person took the photo solely with the intention of sharing it there is no increase enjoyment. Because they didn't do it for themselves so this points to an important distinction photography can enhance your experience. If it's done intentionally. The intention piece is what matters as a photographer. I've really had to check myself on this. When does it help me to have my camera out? And when do I just need to put it away on a trip to Alaska. I had the opportunity to photograph autograph. Alaskan brown bears. I was on a boat with four other photographers and We were all having our minds blown at the same time in such close proximity to these is animals. And it's an emotional experience. Being eye to eye with these bears gave me a feeling of connection that transcends words and having my camera with me in this case enhanced that we were all creating independently but also all completely in the moment both with nature with each other I so clearly remember capturing capturing the water droplets and the motion as the bear swam and the cute cubs following their mothers that group and I will have that experience together and these images to look back on time and time again and photography is what enabled us to share this in the first place. Other Times I choose to leave the camera behind and and I think that choice ultimately improves both my experience and my work. I recently flew to the South Pacific Island of Tonga swim with Humpback whales us. I noticed myself feeling pressure and a certain obligation to take the camera with me when sometimes I just wanted the pure experience itself and the experience variance is seriously amazing. You're talking about being in the water with a curious baby. Animal the size of a station wagon while you are surrounded by particles that float around you like glitter glitter and the MOMS swims gracefully below you. There were times obviously when I did take my camera with me and those were really amazing to capture as well but the setup if is pretty big. It's like this big box in so this is between me and the whales and at times that feels like a block between you and reality. Is there a difference when it's just your phone own last year. I went to Earl and central Australia. Which is this massive rock that towers over the desert? This is sacred land to on when you are the aboriginal people from this area and the traditional owners of the land there are particular spots in That you cannot photograph professionally because because they are culturally sensitive equivalent to secret scripture to on you so because of this most of my photographs are from either far away or from specific diffic- angles in the park. You could say that some of the most interesting and beautiful visuals in are located in these sensitive areas. But they're not to photograph them is an explicit and direct invitation to learn more about the land its importance and its people. Isn't that what we should be doing thing anyway. So my visit to quickly became not about me but about connecting with the place ironically unsurprisingly. I have found that presence and also happens to make for more compelling images we can probably all point to social media as being a good place to share the images from our travels and from our lives we not only share pieces of the world that we have seen but also parts of our day to day experiences. And if we're applying intentionally ready to the photos we take then hopefully. We're sharing intentionally to for me allowing people to see pieces of my story and my perspective online has reminded me that I'm not alone. It's helped me build support and community to do the same for others..

Coming up next