The Fusion of Photography and Forest BathingThe Fusion of Photography and Forest Bathing

The Fusion of Photography and Forest Bathing

In the forest, sound carries. It’s a symphony of loud silence. Branches snapping, leaves crunching, and rivulets running over polished stone. Wind combs through trees, creating a patter that sounds like rain. Generous birdsong spills down with the warmth of filtered sunlight.
By all accounts, this is an ordinary day in a forest—but something about it feels sacred. The soundscape of trees and water, after all, is a primordial one, heard by living beings hundreds and thousands of years before any of us were born, and quietly ageing and shifting with the seasons.
It takes a couple uninterrupted days in the woodland to see that forests, like any complex ecosystem, morph and change every day. Returning to them each week, month, or year feels deeply connective, and it establishes a sense of belonging to nature, in a world where many of us might feel divorced from that feeling.
The last time I visited this region of Canada’s woodlands I was about half my height, and absolutely enchanted with my first real exposure to nature; the gnarly summer bugs, the calming scent of earth, sixty-second showers, and that first foray into constellations. But it never occurred to me to build a “relationship,” as it were, with that forest. Just some fifteen years later, I returned to explore what that might mean to me.
Close to where I grew up, there’s a ravine trail dotted with small placards containing meditative prompts. It’s dedicated to Shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, the Japanese practice with Shinto and Buddhist roots that entails going into a forest and taking in the atmosphere of it. While there aren’t defined brushstrokes of what does or doesn’t qualify, I like that it’s largely left up to interpretation, and above all, intention.

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Pairing photography with forest bathing

Taking my camera to the woods has allowed me to document the process of engaging in a conversation with nature. It’s a complement to forest bathing, in my view. In our modern age, cameras are often seen as a distraction from what’s truly in the frame. But to me it’s a sixth sense; yet another way of extending out to nature and listening for a response.
With summers as fleeting as they are in Canada, there’s this eternal coming-of-age quality to them that never really fades. I’ve long taken for granted the capacity of our forests to change colours, survive the long darkness and bloom with unstoppable force. The seasons reflect our lives, and without clocks or calendars, it’s how our ancestors measured time.
In the end, summer is still my favourite of them all. It’s fruitful and teeming with life. The ephemerality of it and the longer hours of daylight enrich each day with a kind of rosy fullness—an appreciation that’s acted on, as people tie their hiking shoes and take a canoe out on the lake. Even the thought of nostalgia is framed in summers for me: memories by the water, or surrounded in a sea of lush green. Through photography it feels I get to hold onto that moment, even if just for a little while longer.