Just north of summer, on a different planet

Words & Images Norbert von Niman-

It is those days when you’re walking on a glacier, everything around you in full black and white except your friends yellow raincoat, wearing three layers and still getting cold. You are still waiting for the heat waves, beach days and tropical showers when you realise it’s already August and this is as good as summer will get in Iceland. This is a fully different climate, fully different experience and an astonishing landscape to back it all up.


Getting used to a landscape like this is something that will never happen. Every time you revisit a place it’s a different light, different colours of the grass, different clouds, weather and season. In summer there are signs of lush, green life while in winter those four hours of sunlight bounces off the snow colouring everything with an orange hue, or pink, purple blue and then black. It’s like a massive colouring book, sometimes filled out but sometimes just left empty.

The desolation is sometimes imminent which makes the small details, that one perceivable object or the only feature, ever so much more important to show that this is actually reality. It’s difficult to comprehend the scale and the distance, and an anchor point for that sense of reality is important.
Same thing applies to life living in such a hostile environment. With cold around every corner and a darkness that takes everything there needs to be something to bring back some hope. Hot springs can provide warmth for body, good friends and all the open hearted locals provide warmth for the soul, and northern lights shine up the darkness. This makes even the coldest winter days survivable.


It’s not supposed to be easy to live on an extreme piece of volcano surrounded by the wild sea. You can hide in Reykjavik and pretend to live a normal life with normal problems but as soon as you get out in the wilderness the weather can be the greatest of challenges. Pictures are best taken when there is a good story to follow behind it, or a struggle to get it. That is most certainly the case when facing gale force winds, freezing temperatures and isolation from civilisation. The weather suits the landscape though.


Many times there can be hours of howling wind tearing through even the most windproof layers of clothing, until you come to the sudden realisation that everything has gone perfectly quiet. All noise is gone, water flat, nothing is moving. The wind has stopped and so does the world with it. It is these moments of clarity when the feeling of truly being alone in the middle of nowhere creeps up. The shutter makes a quick sound that echoes in the vast emptiness. The wind is back.

© all images Norbert von Niman with kind permission

Norbert is a photographer and guide based in Iceland. Follow his journey here. Norbert’s words and images reflect so perfectly well my current state of mind, while being close with nature on a northern sea island, with a stormy wind hauling around the thatched house. It’s nothing more nourishing for me than living with nordic nature and the sea. Have a relaxed time my dear readers! Take care, Melanie Kettner

a world full of untold stories

Words & Images Frederique Peckelsen-

Not all summers are the same. Whilst most people use summers to lay in the sun and typically relax, for me summer is a time to explore and discover. I have the freedom to visit places far away from home, far away from the big known cities and the Western world. There are so many untold stories on our earth, so many unseen places, and I have this insatiable urge to go out and find them and share these stories with the world. I used to love the warm weather. My grandma always asked me when I was going to move to Spain. But then Iceland changed something. I want to be outside in the cold.

The white North has a treasurable silence, that I have found nowhere else in the world. It is the only place that never distracts me from my own thoughts and feelings, but rather confronts me with it. The endless white landscapes brings clarity to my mind. The rough but silent nature is so perfectly aligned with what I feel on the inside. There is hope, in the desolate landscape – as contradicting as it may sound. Its beauty strikes you in your core, as there is no distraction of any kind. Only a very pure feeling remains.

 

But then again, the North can be as mysterious as the night. The hidden and covered landscapes, and the mystery of what lies beneath and beyond makes way for untold stories. The invisible or the things out of sight fuel my imagination, and make way for a sense of freedom, away from the familiar and the obvious. The North is like home, but it is always far away from today, here and now. And in this way, with both clarity and imagination, the North unites me with my creativity that mostly gets smothered in the more crowded places. It taps into a world of the lost, the hidden, the untold and the forgotten. The North feels like the abandoned lands of epic battles fought in children books. Battles between higher Gods and invisible creatures.

I grew up in a very small town up in the North. I had a childhood full of fantasy, and played in the woods that surrounded our house for days on end. I imagined every tree was a spirit, and that the woods would talk to each other, but they talked in a language unknown to mankind. I played at a little wooden church, close to home. The church was built by Vikings, according to old folk tales. Folk tales and fairytales were not just stories that were made up, there had to be more to them. Since then I have always been on a quest to find most distant and forgotten places, locked between the most majestic mountains. Isolated houses awake my fantasy. Who lives there? What would a cold night, full of storm be like in there? Have you ever wondered? Every time I go back to Iceland, I secretly hope for these colors. There is so much that awestrucks me, but these colors make everything even more magical.

We are all looking for something, chasing it, sometimes even without knowing what it is. I always tend to find ‘it’ in desolate places, because of this ongoing confrontation with my own mind, and the beauty that I’m surrounded by while contemplating it all. As we grow older, we should realize that our option broaden, they do not limit. Learn, practice, put in every extra hour you have. Because if this is that little voice talking, it will guide you toward your final path. I’m looking for sacred places in nature, perhaps because I’m looking for that place within myself. Somewhere where nature is harsh and rules over everything, instead of everything seemingly ruling over nature. There is something so magical about the ever changing but rough and pure landscape of the North. It feels like an untouched piece of the earth, whereas a lot of other places are all altered to serve humans and make life easier. I believe that where we go or what we long for defines who we are, or and least says something about us.

Everyone has that one thing that keeps on calling. But mostly it is very silently. When we are children it is so much louder, and so much clearer. As kids we know exactly what we want, and we are not afraid to say these desires out loud. But then, when we get older, dreams change, although dreaming never changes. But the one thing is, that we don’t take our dreams as serious as we did before. When I was young, I always wanted to be an Egyptologist, an areologist. Of course my options where limited, but as a child I didn’t know what possibilities the world had in store. But I did know I was intrigued by forgotten and untold stories, by undiscovered kingdoms and that I wanted to explore what hadn’t been explored. I wanted to show the world the treasures earth possesses.

But weirdly enough, as we grow older, our dreams aren’t as big as they were – even though we are more aware of all its possibilities. We think about what would be the most sensible choice, what brings us most money. All of a sudden our options are limited, and we are scared to even say out loud what we desire. I am not saying that everybody should give up their jobs, and build a cabin in the woods (isn’t that what we all would love?). But what I am saying is, listen to that little voice inside. That dream you are scared off. That one thing you fear you will be ridiculed for, or seems impossible to achieve. Has one ever regretted trying to follow their dream?

I could stand here for hours.These colours are more magical than anything. Ever mountain, every part of the water reflects the same color as the sky. Sometimes, on the most unexpected moments, a sort of melancholic feeling seems to get the best of me. It always brings me back to these roads, these mountains, this land. In a world where we try to control all and everything, or try to explain and understand it, fight against nature instead of abiding it, the North seems to be one of the last places that keeps its mystery with its ever changing weather, non visible landscapes, covered mountains and days of darkness.

© all pictures Frederique Peckelsen with kind permission

More about Frederique’s wonderfully magic world here.

silently transforming the landscape

Images Ewan Thompson – Text Ewan Thompson & Melanie Kettner

Ewan: There is nothing everyday about Namibia. The purpose of my trip to Southern Africa was primarily to visit the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but I was able to add a few days in Namibia before hand and had absolutely no idea what to expect. What a surprise I was in for. The sheer majesty of the scenery was breathtaking, along with the colossal scale of the landscapes. I had the unforgettable (and rather bumpy) experience of flying into our camp from Windhoek in a little 4-seater propellor plane, allowing the desert to unfold beneath us and offer extraordinary aerial views.

Once landed we rose early the next day to visit Sossusvlei for an opportunity to explore the sand dunes. Other than the size of the dunes, the first thing that struck me was the extraordinary perfection of the curves in the sand – that the abstract, motiveless wind could unconsciously shift such vast quantities of tiny specks of sand into such wonderfully beautiful and consistent patterns. Moreover the stark lines and ridges offer such beautiful opportunities to explore light and shadow, with the sun moving slowly overhead and silently transforming the landscape hour by hour. The other worldly sight of the huge dunes, dwarfing the plucky trees brave enough to take root by their side, as well as the black silhouettes of the dead branches of their long-dead forebears once fed by ancient lakes was utterly extraordinary, providing the perfect opportunity to find abstract shapes and natural geometry amid the alien landscapes offered up by the dessert.

Away from the dunes the plains extend endlessly, long-grassed savannahs punctuated by brutal black-ridged mountains, and of course the vast expanse of the sky. Having arrived with no expectations whatsoever, I left utterly enchanted and inspired.

 

I live and work in London. My approach as a photographer is as simple as to carry around my cameras with me and take photographs of anything that catches my eye, be it architecture or landscapes. I think the constant between the two is a fascination with shapes, geometry and abstraction. There is nothing more delightful than finding a pleasing abstract pattern in the everyday world. When I was a boy I inherited a 35mm film camera from my grandfather. I used it very artlessly, but it did have the virtue of introducing me to the mechanics of photography and thinking about framing subjects. My father has been bought a Hasselblad camera as a wedding present by my mother. As I grew older and began to travel more I would borrow the Hasselblad and take it with me on my various foreign adventures. The camera – being medium format – takes pictures with a square frame, and with only 12 shots on a roll and requires the utmost care in composition. Looking back now, I feel this was the perfect way to learn to think about photography – make each shot count, with the unusual square frame forcing one to think hard about composition in particular. I am still using the Hasselblad today.

 

 

 

© all images Ewan Thompson with kind permission

Melanie: As my husband grew up in  Southafrica I have a special relationship to Namibia. When I saw Namibia for the first time I immediately fell in love with the African vegetation, the magic lines on the ground, the vastness, the air, the colours and the calmness due to the overall reduction. This country responds to some deeper parts of my soul. I miss the calm rhythm of Namibian daily life, no news on the radio as we know them, the news there deal with a lion seen near the ground of a farmer or a collection for a summer charity event. No politics, no trendy music of the international charts, rather the songs of the 80s. Time stands still. When you order a coffee on the way it is not served in a paper cup, but in an old fashioned tableware like that one your granny has. There is always time for having a break, a conversation while drinking your coffee with grace. When you go on a trip in Namibia, you probably won’t see anybody on the road. When you meet someone there is always a cheerful mutual greeting and waving. The people living in Namibia know how to come to terms with all the difficult circumstances of daily life in Namibia. I admire that independent and brave attitude.

Stay in touch with Ewan to learn more about his adventure trips and gifted photography on Instagram here.

Have a wonderful week my dear followers! Take good care of yourself! Yours, Melanie Kettner

after a while she talked to nature

Images: Eeva Mäkinen Words: Melanie Kettner & Eeva Mäkinen-

Eeva Mäkinen is a photographer and a professional wilderness guide from Finland. Her passion is the wilderness and for her happiness is all about freedom. It’s also about waking up in places where you start smiling as soon as you open your eyes. That’s where she would love to take us – either via her pictures or in real life. She is a slow living traveling guide with the focus on senses and stories.

Eeva: ” Yep, once again I left my comfy hotel room and escaped to the wilderness. I bet my laptop enjoyed the warm bed.The hike was pretty intense though. The path was icy and included some stairs, actually 300 of them. All covered with 1 meter of icy snow. Not my cup of tea to climb them with my 20kg heavy backpack on but there was no way to return. I just had to keep on going. The nights were well worth the pain. The bruises were nothing compared to the total silence and tranquility what I got when spending the nights over here.”

Eeva told me, that her strong connection with nature helps to create the images she dreams about. It’s difficult  for her to stay several days in the wilderness alone. Sometimes it’s very scary to feel this intense loneliness in wild nature, especially at night, she said. But she has become a stronger person after dealing with those feelings. I asked her what the word freedom means to her and she said, that freedom is the most important feeling in her life, she loves choosing the direction she wants to go, without schedules pushing her. Being alone gives her a sense of freedom. Eeva:”How often do you spend a night by yourself? And how often do you think about doing it? Nowadays I do this a lot. I really love it. Sometimes I get a bit scared of noises outside of my tent but I got used to it. I also got used to staying alone in the darkness.”

I was alway fascinated by the sky in the wild nature with all its stars, you hardly can see in the city with all its light pollution. Eeva said that for her it feels rewarding when you see how different the same nature looks during day and night. Especially exciting are the Northern Lights, Aurora borealis. This magic light scenery is one of the wonders of this amazing planet. It’s like a celestial dance with moving lights in different colours across the night sky.The dancing lights are due to collisions between electrically charged particles of the sun that enter earth’s atmosphere, they are seen above the northern and southern poles.

One night Eeva was on a shooting trip and she decided to hike up to see what she could get from there. The night started extremely windy and she get scared. Nonetheless she tried to keep her focus on taking pictures. But there was something that made her nervous of staying there. After a while she went outside from her tent and talked to nature and herself. Suddenly it was all calm, her feelings and the wind.

© all pictures with kind permission Eeva Mäkinen

In the past Eeva studied photojournalism and Traveling Management. At the moment Eeva works also a freelance writer and photography guide. She lived in USA and Mexico and visited over 60 countries so far. She dedicated 2017 to traveling in Finland and finding beauty there, at the moment she is in Norway. Next year she will get back to traveling the world – not forgetting home though. Learn more about her impressive work here and here.

What a courage Eeva has! Have a beautiful week my dear readers! Hope you are in a relaxed  mood! Take care! Melanie Kettner

 

 

 

the way we look on it

Images Jon West & Words Melanie Kettner-

Life challenges us all from time to time, some of us have to overcome harder defiances than others. In the end, changing perspective becomes the most important tool we can use to adjust to life changes, that we can not avoid. Jon’s breathtaking earth images are the perfect symbol for this attitude we can adopt. As I psychological coach I often changed the seat with my client, sometimes literally. It all depends on how we look on occurrences. We let them do us harm, because we loose control over our own habitual thinking. The seize of an incident is defined not by itself, but by the way we look on it and the way we reflect on it.

Our thinking mostly follows automatic patterns, it’s not easy to learn to make them conscious and to stay aware of these self-acting responses. Interestingly human beings all have the same thinking patterns often dictated by fear and insecurity. To control them gives us a device to value an event more objectively and to detect the real dimension of it.

From Jon Kabat Zinn I learned meditating. He often gives the advice to imagine ourselves sitting beneath a waterfall with its random noise. The “noise” modern society forces on us is difficult to bear at times. We often don’t notice it anymore. It’s the speed of our day, of the news  flashing by and the social media that overstrain us unnoticed. When we pause for a moment and step aside, we can sit in the nearness of the waterfall, but not right in the middle of it anymore. The noise will become more at distance and weaker.

“We all tend to fill up our days with things that just have to be done and then run around desperately trying to do them all, while in the process not really enjoying much of the doing because we are too pressed for time, too rushed, too busy, too anxious? We can feel overwhelmed by our schedules, our responsibilities, and our roles at times, even when everything we are doing is important, even when we have chosen to do them all. We live immersed in a world of constant doing. Rarely are we in touch with who is doing the doing.”

― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living

Changing perspective moves problems away from us we cannot deal with at the moment. It enables us to approach the issue from a calm, peaceful state of mind, that will ensure that our decisions will be wise and our soul will not be tormented senselessly. Basically, mindful meditation means a state of being, rather than a state of doing.

© all images Jon West with kind permission

Jon owns a Vancouver based video production company. More about Jon’s beautiful work here and here.

Take good care of yourselves dear followers! Hope you keep in touch with us on Instagram! Yours, Melanie Kettner

moments that capture you

Words & Images Josh Kempinaire-

I’ve always been attracted by the North. I can’t really explain why, but I know that I like the cold, the snow, the soft light. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to got to Africa or South America, of course I do. But if you ask me to choose one destination for the rest of my life, I would on the spot say Norway, Iceland, Alaska or Greenland. That sounds weird for some people, but if you have ever experienced the peace you find up in the North, you definitely understand my point. Nature there never stops amazing me. From a small tree in a forest to a majestic rock in Norway, it always makes me realize how beautiful our planet is. We are maybe not living in the coolest world ever in terms of politics but that’s not the subject here. Nature is beautiful, nature nearly seems to be unreal and nature is what I’m living for.


I would not consider myself as a professional photographer, more as an adventurer. I don’t travel to take pictures, I take pictures because I’m traveling. I want to explore the world. While writing this I realize that it’s really hard to express how I feel about that, because I can actually not spend a long time without shooting. So, is it the feeling of having a camera in my hand that I miss? Or just the feeling of being in the mountains? I would say I need the mountains, but honestly I don’t know. I graduated from high school three years ago and I immediately had a yearning for traveling. So, I bought a van, actually an old delivery car that I turned into a van, and drove all the way from Switzerland to the North Cape in Norway. I’ve never felt so free since then. That’s why I’m now thinking about living for my two passions: Adventure and Photography, nothing more. I’m not interested in living a “normal life” that our society suggests us to live. I don’t want to make crazy money or to drive a fancy car. I don’t need it. And even if my future is still quite uncertain, I know what I want to do: I like challenges and I think I’m ready for this one.


Exploring is not only about going to crazy remote and unknown places, it’s about going to places that you personally don’t know. I never mind if somebody tells me that a place is “too famous” or “so touristic”. If I guess it’s beautiful and I’ve never been there, I go. I would say that exploring is about leaving your comfort zone. Actually, I was afraid of being alone in a dark forest, when I first planned my tour in Norway, it was more than a exploration tour for me. I think people are just stuck in a vision that link the word “exploring” to “fame” and that’s why many people are not doing it. They just think that they are not good enough to climb the Everest, but they are probably brave enough to spend their first night under the stars in a dark, unfriendly forest next to their house. I’m passionate about mountains and my heart belongs to the ocean, so I had to leave.

The mountains are majestic, we owe them respect, they go through all kind of weather and millions years after, they are still there. You can’t conquer a mountain; maybe it allows you to climb it. When I’m hiking to the top, I realize that I’m only a small human being that is irrelevant in this nature. I’ve still never climbed a high peak until only a few months ago, I was really afraid of the height. I started to climb with friends to get rid of this fear and I have a new challenge now, I would like to do some alpinism in a near future. Then I will really be able to tell how I feel about mountains.

I can easily compare the ocean to the mountains: peaceful and powerful at the same time. They control everything, they are everywhere around us. But there is something more that I can’t really explain. I feel just so good when I swim inside salty water. And more than that, it’s the texture of the water that I like more than anything else. Every wave is unique, like every moment in life. They all looks the same but if you watch closely, they are all different, the power is different, the colours are different, the shades are different. Regarding life, every minute is different. Even if you think you are in a routine, there are still moments that will pop out of your life and these are the ones you have to enjoy.


Now you have an idea of why I choose to do my first major tour in Norway, because you can find sharp peaks next to the ocean and fjords that flood in the middle of the mountains. But there is something more that is really important for me: Not to be afraid and if we are, we should fight these fears, without avoiding them. Don’t think you are not adventurous enough, we all have a different perception and vision of life and we should all develop our own. Take pictures and just create new memories because there are moments that you should definitely capture and by the way, there are moments that will capture you. That’s what life is about.

© all pictures Josh Kempinaire with kind permission

More about Josh and his adventures and photography here.

Take care dear readers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

a visual slowdown

Images Mária Švarbová – Words Melanie Kettner- It’s already a while, that I’m in love with this series of Mária Švarbová . I’m happy to share it now- I like the hint of summer, the delicate colours and the surreal, yet clear atmosphere, the nearly graphical reflections. Mária : ““My photographs are a succession of short scenes in which the frontality and absence of contrasts remove any narrative dimension.” I always start dreaming while looking at these calm and positive images. Mária was born in 1988 in Slovakia. She studied conservation – restoration and archeology, however since 2010 she has been dedicated to photography as her main tool of artistic expression. She lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Symbolizing in some way the isolation of contemporary life, her work is both, cool and yet emotionally powerful. The “In the Swimming Pool” series is Mária’s largest series, originating in 2014 and still developping. Her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. The beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs, in various locations in Slovakia. The swimmers seem to be frozen in their movement and the scenery has a dream-like atmosphere with a cinematographic quality. The detachment, Mária creates, allows a visual calmness, beneficial in this fast world with continuously stimulus satiation.

© all pictures with kind permission Mária Švarbová

By the way, this images remind me of the meditative influence regular swimming can have on our minds. It’s always worth a try. Have a relaxed summer week dear readers! Take care, Melanie Kettner

More about Mária ‘s work here and here.

 

Finding your way…

Words & Images Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson-

I get an undefinable feeling when seeing something utterly breathtaking for the first time. My mind is blown away, and there is no way of replicating this feeling by revisiting the exact same place again. This happens frequently in Iceland, even this day today, but as time passes, you have to search further and further for this type of experience. Often the change of colors and seasons do their magic to an extent, but there is nothing like that grand feeling you get the first time.

The desire to be free (like a bird) is something that has followed me throughout the past couple of years. Throughout my entire life, I always sought to make the safe choices and doing the right thing. That included things like choice of education and job. But after a while working in a corporate job where I often had to ignore my inner voice and suppress the stress signals my body was sending me – I realized that it was time to make some changes. This led me to quit my corporate job in Denmark, sell all of my belongings and buy a one-way ticket to Iceland to seek out my Icelandic roots and live the dream as an adventure photographer. It has taken me some time to get to where I am today, but what has been a continued driver is my passion for exploring this incredible country, the never-ending need to create a better photograph and to keep on building my skills as a person and creator. There are a lot of ups and down along the way, but the ability to be out there and live the dream of travel and adventure easily makes it all worth it.

Listening to your inner voice is one of the most important things you can do and maintain your focus. When I first started on Instagram, nobody in my closest circle believed in or understood what I was doing – but the positive examples set by other adventure photographers and their inspiring stories helped me believe that it actually was possible. Surrounding yourself with inspiring and creative people is surely one of the best things you can do in terms of removing those limitations that we tend to put on ourselves – either due to fear or lack of awareness of the fact that it’s is possible to do things differently and live life outside of the 9-5 schedule.

There is something very peaceful and calming about these waves. Looking back at some of these photos, I can almost hear the ocean roaring and smell the fresh salty air. It’s a nice way to unwind sometimes when things get a little too crazy.Home is where the heart is. It’s amazing how you can find such a feeling of belonging in place that looks like being on another planet. I can’t get enough of these lonely houses found around the country. I’m intrigued by the story they silently tell – and by their peculiar yet somehow simple beauty.

One of the most amazing things about this rugged little island is there always is something new to discover. Like the other day when I stumbled upon a highland road on Reykjanes – where for one hour, I felt like I was on an entirely different planet.

Wanderlust is about heading out into new adventures, exploring new places and finding parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. But it stretches to more than just getting out there. It’s the process of researching and finding news places to explore, planning your adventures, figuring things out – and every so often, it’s what gets us through a day full of obligations and commitments. And even if we try to plan as much as we can ahead, there is nothing that fully can prepare us for the unexpected things that we find along the way – something bigger and more amazing than what we could have imagined – and it’s what keeps us hungry for the next adventure.

New perspective: Living in the hustle and bustle of a city makes it easy to forget how powerful nature really is. When we loose sight of the elements that are so vital to our existence here, we often loose balance and don’t get the right reference point. I love getting out there in the wilderness to remind myself where I, as a human, am in this world and how grateful I am for Mother Nature, bringing these incredible sights to us.

It’s no surprise why people decide to travel from all around the world to visit Iceland – and every day I am grateful for being able to live in a country with countless natural pearls and where adventure is luring around every corner. It’s a dream come true being able to visit remote places like this on a regular basis – and I know that many people, just like me, find it incredibly difficult to be away from this wild landscape for too long. Iceland does something to you, for better or worse, and once you’ve first experienced it, there is no going back.

Winter: That winter light… I’ve spent most of the day outside in what seemed like one long sunset. It’s incredible to imagine that the day now only is about 6 hours long. People keep asking me if it isn’t difficult to cope with this shortness, but I’ll repeat my answer; the light is less but the quality is so much more. Not only do you have this beautiful glow most of the day, but you also appreciate the light in a different way when you know it will be gone in just a few hours.

 

Finding the way: Don’t worry about failures, instead worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try. Break the rules, even when its uncomfortable, if that’s what it takes to do the things you believe in and gets you closer to living your dream… As tough as it sometimes seems, I try to remind myself about this whenever I can. Bombarded by input from our surroundings, opinions, advice, praise, judgement and basically everything in between – it can at times be difficult to navigate in a manner that is true to our hearts. Those days, it can be good to slow down and just close the eyes for a moment and let the heart be your compass.

© text and all pictures with kind permission Gunnar Freyr Gunnarsson

More about Gunnar and his Iceland experiences here and here. Take good care dear readers and have an inspiring week! Melanie Kettner

 

the power of a wave

Words & Images Matthew Leonard-

Growing up in a city in England I visioned the sea in a different way to which I do now. Back then I saw it as a non-inviting, closed-up and dark place. It was somewhere I’d rarely venture into, either out of fear of the depths, currents or the cold. My connection with the sea back then was at a distance. It was something I loved to visit and photograph, but rarely enter. Working in London I never got to see the sun set by the sea, or hang out on the beach with friends. Everything was urban, yet I was desperate to be in the country where I loved to take photos the most.

After moving to Australia, the sea opened up to me. It’s colours, warmth and wildlife draw you in. The surf culture here encourages people to respect the ocean but to enjoy it also. It teaches you the power, danger and fun of the waves. Before surfing I was unaware of the power of the sea. From the shore, it would appear you just fall into the wave and emerge straight out the other side as easily as you entered it. But in reality, your body is tossed around like rag doll. Arms and legs flung uncontrollably. I’ve had my heel bend back and hit my head just from the power of the white water. With all this in mind you’re constantly aware of potential rocks and sandbanks you might crash into. You try to protect your head with your hands, if the wave lets you. Time slows whilst you’re under the water and a sense of loneliness hits you as you get swallowed up. To me, the power of a wave is one of the reasons I surf. Feeling the power of a wave push you through the air whilst your board glides and carves its way through the water is a sensation known only by those who surf. It’s the sensation that keeps all surfers coming back to the waves.

After I began surfing it was only a matter of time before I began photographing it. I have always been obsessed with surf and underwater photography. The only consistent thing with the sea is that it is forever changing, and therefore no picture is ever the same. Combining this with the artistic flare of a surfer is what draws me in. As a photographer I am not after the perfect surf technique, or a manoeuvre that would score a 10/10 on a judging panel. I’m after a picture that captures emotion, energy, patterns and colour.

For me, living by the sea is a way of stepping away from the daily routines myself and so many other people are used to. It was about escaping the big city and the 9 to 5 and changing it for a life that has more freedom. I wanted a life that focused less on how much time you spend in the office and more on the time you spend outdoors with your friends. Back in London, I had to dedicate one weekend to seeing my mates and the next for escaping and spending time in the country. Where as here, I can do both nearly every day of the week.

So yeah, I guess that’s what living by the sea means to me, more time outdoors doing the things you love with the people you love. And I think this is the same for most people that live by the sea, which is why everyone seems to get along so well, because we all share the same passions and interests. Where I am, everyone surfs and skates, and you can feel that connection when you meet someone for the first time. Where as in London everyone is trying to be different and unique which can be tiresome. Maybe that’s why so many people in London feel lonely, but I’m not sure.

© all pictures Matthew Leonard with kind permission

More about Matt’s stunning captures here.

An inspiring weekend dear readers! Take care! Melanie Kettner

time is a weird thing-

Words & Images: Caleb Gaskins-

I’ve realized that some of life’s sweetest and truest gifts are found in the routines and normalities of the day. It is in the sitting down (whether I want to or not) and getting to work that I find inspiration does come. It is noticing that my morning cup of coffee taste better when I read a book. It’s getting excited for some leftovers as long as I can put a little Sriracha on it. It’s those familiar laughs and voices that are part of my daily mix, but it is also realizing that every time I don’t get what I want I am pulled back from my habitual need to be self-centered. It is the doubt that is coupled with envy that I am not yet who I want to be but also knowing I never will be. And it is in the complexities of love that I realize how well I have disguised my ego.

Some of these may seem like really shitty things to confront, and honestly they are – who wants to admit their shortcomings, their mistakes, who wants to remember a painful past, their flaws and failures? I’m a slow learner – I always have been. But thats probably the reason why I have come to know more of myself in the routines of life however beautiful and ugly it may be. Over time I can spot the patterns in my reactions to different situations, idiosyncrasies, and people. How very true it is that no one can heal from anything if we do not acknowledge what is there to begin with and how very hard it is to see when our eyes have not adapted well enough to see what has always been revealed in the light, or for that matter, the dark. We must discover and learn to accept who we are and continue to pursue a love of self and a love of others from an honest place that grows ever deeper into the mystery of itself.

Time is a weird thing. From a distance it feels like you’ve always had room to breathe, but from up close it can seem like there is a lack of air, and sometimes you realize that there is no difference between the two and that it’s always been the same. I think that’s the best spot to be in – living in the moment.

I heard the other day that brain scientists have now proven that positive thoughts are like teflon, neurons don’t easily attach as quickly as with negative thoughts. However, if you are able to savor and appreciate those moments that are good for at least 15 seconds, those positive thoughts latch on much stronger than negative thoughts ever could. I dare you today to consciously savor and appreciate the mundane routines that give life the simplest of pleasures.

We must learn to transform our pain and fear or we will surely impart it to the people around us or even to the next generation. Pain can either make us a very bitter people or quite the opposite – a people of compassion and wisdom – perhaps because the heart is soften or because it makes us feel like we have nothing else to lose.

A little snapshot of one of my work spaces. I’ve seen this view for almost 2 years now so I decided to do a self-portrait. A lot of editing, writing, reading, questioning, listening, and dreaming, is done right here.

Even with all the creating and sharing and pursuing of my craft, at the end of the day I want to look back and see how I loved others because honestly, that’s all that matters. There’s a Richard Rohr quote I often share with people and it says, “Our life situation and our style of relating to others is “the final truth” that we take with us to the grave.” We can get so caught up in the tasks of the day to day, the trials of life, politics, petty or significant arguments, that we forget to see people as people and embrace the moment as it is. My hope, is that at the end of my life I can look back and know I did my best in creating an environment where people felt safe and welcomed to be who they are without fear of rejection but embraced with love and acceptance.

As I’ve walked through my photographic journey, I’ve recognized that photographs help me slow down, think, and challenge the very way I interact with the world. At the same time, they allow me to capture honest moments that are in and of themselves – raw, pure, and at times, indescribable. I love those candid moments when emotions are organic, real, and fully embraced. It’s that quick glance with eyes of love, that smirk that goes almost entirely unseen, it’s when there is sudden and uncontrollable laughter, it is when tears flow freely followed by a tender embrace.

© all pictures with kind permission

Caleb is a photographer based in Central California. More about him here and here.

Have a wonderful week my dear readers & take good care of yourself! Melanie