This is a special gallery of images captured in, and dedicated to, the beautiful Middle Tennessee area. You never quite know what you might discover when you first set off for a leisurely drive, but you do know that it is bound to be beautiful. This is Middle Tennessee. This is the place I call home.
One of my favorite moments I've ever encountered as a human being, let alone as a photographer. I will never forget this awe-inspiring evening, and what it meant to me.
When I look at this image below, I remember the very hard day I was having before it was captured. I was particularly troubled back then by some extremely difficult life events, and had spent all day out in the Middle Tennessee area trying to clear my head. It was a much slower process than I had hoped, and by the time sunset came along I was feeling pretty drained. I set up my camera/tripod overlooking this farm field, and did my best to compose a scene with the limited hay bales present.
While to some this will seem silly and illogical, I'm sure others will resonate with me when I say that there are sometimes rare moments in life that are simply too amazing, surprising, and humbling to be made up. They can even lead you to that point where you begin to suspect that maybe God Himself is breaking a few "rules" to get your attention, if only to communicate that He sees where you are.
That is about how I felt soon after hearing a noise, looking up from my camera, and watching a beautiful buck rise from sleep and walk straight into my composition (adding a useful symmetry no less). He stopped and looked right at me for a brief, but mesmerizing moment. A gift to be handled with care, I don't think I've ever been more gentle and discreet in pressing the shutter button on my camera! It was only about 5-6 seconds later that he ran away, but thankfully it was long enough for me to get the image...and the message. :)
I pray over time we can all collect such moments and messages to look back on and remember.
"Somewhere in July"
On August 21, 2020, after a long break from shooting nature photography, I shared the following words on Facebook along with this image. I share them again here in hopes they resonate with you in your own journey, and help you "see" what may still feel unseen in your life right now:
I don't shoot nature and landscape images, at least with my nice DSLR camera, nearly as much as years past. I still enjoy doing it of course...it's just that seasons change, and often things that were once fresh and alive within a heart can start to feel old and worn over time, sometimes for reasons we don't yet know or fully understand.
Perhaps God gives grace for certain things in certain seasons...perhaps it is okay to slowly walk away from what we've been gifted to do...maybe we've somehow already done what was needed of us for the time that we pursued it, even if we once believed much more was to come. Or maybe we simply need a long break, a fresh perspective, and a different path that might one day circle back around to show us everywhere we've already been from a different angle, a new vista, with a fresh wave of enthusiasm for the larger journey still unfolding.
I don't yet know.
What I do know is that about a month ago, I was out driving around the Middle Tennessee area, traveling those roads I used to frequent far more often, and I saw this beautiful sunset unfolding before me. And for as old and worn as it honestly still felt in some ways, I somehow found it in me in those moments to pull out my "real" camera and create something far more meaningful than a passing thought with my phone.
It was only today, one month later, that I finally offloaded the memory card and discovered what I had captured back then. And in a season where months can feel like years for many of us, maybe this image is a fitting reminder to relax and know that even when we may feel too tired or worn to see it now, one day, perhaps not too far from now, we will be able to look back and appreciate the true beauty of the journey we've been on this whole time.