Nature has always been a place of comfort for me. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I was privileged to have a backyard full of forested land. I spent my formative years wandering trails, swinging on vines, climbing trees, and playing in creeks. I’ve always valued those experiences, even back then. I consider those times to be some of the best in my life. They represent playfulness, exploration, discovery, and freedom.
As adults, many of our lives have become constant streams of responsibility: going to work, paying bills, navigating politics, standing in line, sitting in traffic, running errands, tending to social media, responding to emails, fielding phone calls, making/attending appointments, etc. We often lose sight of what it's like to just... be.
Beyond the things I mentioned previously, life also comes with its struggles. Depression, anxiety, worry, stress, and self-loathing are things that I struggle with on a daily basis. Oftentimes they consume me and drag me down, which causes me to put up walls in order to insulate those that I love and care about. I come off as empty, vacant, and emotionally inaccessible. I become a shell of myself.
In my battles with mental health and alcoholism, nature has played a crucial role. In my early days of sobriety, I would escape to nature with my camera—because I knew that as long as I was out in nature, I was safe. I would get lost in my viewfinder as I watched the shadows and light dance across the leaves. I would immerse myself in gratitude as I watched water pour over a rock, thankful that I was able to be sober and experience that moment. Everything was okay when I was interacting with the natural world through my viewfinder—because in nature, not a single one of those things that brings me down matters. Out there, everything disappears. It's just me and the environment, existing as one at that moment in time.
Since those younger days, the things that nature brings me have expanded, and nowadays my motivation for spending time out there is to strip life down to its nuts and bolts... to live life for what it IS, instead of living for what I've made it into. I’ve become more aware of what I truly seek through my relationship with nature. I seek simplicity, peace, and solace. I seek inspiration. I seek gratitude and love. I seek an understanding of my place in the world—and in the past several years, it’s been water in particular that brings me those things.
Water is not just a calming force for me. I have derived strength and inspiration as I’ve come to realize its nature.. No matter what it’s doing–crashing, flowing, trickling, or falling—it’s always trying to find peace and equilibrium. I’ve learned that just like life, water ebbs and flows. I’ve realized that water is persistent and that more than half of my body is made up of the same stuff that carved the Grand Canyon. There’s power in that for me.
At its core, this collection tells the story of my search for emotional and mental freedom. I have spent hours photographing single cascades, watching the way that light and reflection move across the surface, learning and anticipating its movement and behavior. I immerse myself in the confluence of that moment, knowing that every decision in my life has brought me to be right there, right then. That moment is made for me and I pour my heart and mind into it.
Nothing else in my life brings me to the place that water does. Whether I’m happy or sad, when I’m photographing water through my viewfinder, everything is okay. All of my worries, my stresses, and my self-damaging thoughts get washed downstream and I feel that peace. I feel reprieve. I feel... content.
Each image in this collection was created during moments in time where I was living and breathing. Moments where I was at peace with the world—and more importantly, at peace with myself. They represent the epitome of serenity.
I hope that viewing these images can bring you at least a fraction of the gratitude, peace, balance, and contentment I felt while capturing them.