How Pictures Helped Me Overcome Grief

Most cancers took my mom away. I used to be in a downward spiral till an opportunity encounter with nature set me on my path to restoration. I started pictures as a way of prolonging the serenity I felt when surrounded by nature.

Over time, I healed, rediscovered myself, and recalibrated the tempo and path of my life. I now {photograph} to have a good time and protect the recollections of nature’s ephemeral magnificence. My first challenge, “Metamorphosis,” is a manifestation of the modifications which have occurred in me. 

I started photographing as a type of self-therapy. I used to be grieving over the lack of my mom, who had been each my confidante and my ethical compass. Though I accepted her loss of life, I ran from grief by burying myself in work. Nevertheless, my work setting, like most, was not conducive to therapeutic. Relationship points additional compounded my ache and left me on the lowest level in my life.

I wallowed on this state of existence for just a few years till I spotted I needed to do one thing about it. It was affecting my household and shut buddies. Signing up for a volunteer program in Tibet turned out to be a defining second. Volunteers might assist out at an orphanage in Lhasa and likewise go on sight-seeing journeys. One such journey took us to Lake Namtso, a lake at an elevation of 4,718 m (15,479 ft). I used to be sitting by the sting of the lake after I savored a way of peace that had eluded me for a very long time. The vastness of the lake gave me a way of perspective whereas its magnificence reignited in me a way of marvel and journey. Nature jogged my memory life is gorgeous and there may be a lot to stay for and to discover. I’m small within the scheme of the universe. My spirit reawakened. I discovered hope.

One of many different volunteers on the journey had a digital SLR digital camera. At the moment, I didn’t know what a digital SLR digital camera was and was completely proud of my point-and-shoot digital camera, busily snapping away. Nevertheless, unknown to me, a seed had been planted in my thoughts. Once I received dwelling, I purchased my first digital SLR digital camera and signed up for an internet workshop to study f-stops, shutter speeds, and ISO. A couple of years later after I was in-between jobs, I registered for a few pictures workshops on the Santa Fe Workshops in New Mexico. And this was how my pictures journey started, at age 33.


My life as much as that time had been all about economics and finance, technique, and negotiations. The one brush with the artwork world was in my first 12 months of school after I went looking for a poster for my dormitory room. I fell in love with Monet’s “Impression, Dawn,” with out understanding who he was. The poster prompted me to learn up about him. One factor led to a different and the books I purchased launched me to Renoir, Degas, and different impressionists. I later realized about Van Gogh and fell in love with Chagall’s work. My present love is Li Huayi, a up to date ink portray artist from China, and Goto Sumio, a distinguished Japanese artist whose museum I go to a couple of times a 12 months for inspiration.

My first challenge, “Metamorphosis,” options the landscapes of Central Hokkaido, Japan. The selection was no accident. I had first visited Hokkaido with my household after I was seven years previous. My dad took us there to ski throughout our year-end college trip. My world then was easy – doing college homework, studying to ski, and consuming scrumptious Japanese meals. It might need been solely a three-day journey for just a few winters, however these recollections stay etched in my thoughts. Being there conjures up nostalgia for the purity and ease of childhood.


Central Hokkaido is a magical place stuffed with mountains, forests, rolling fields, rivers, and lakes. The distinct seasons and huge temperature variations between night time and day give rise to some wonderful pure phenomena equivalent to fog, frost, and diamond mud. My want to spend extra time in Central Hokkaido led me to maneuver to work in Japan, and ultimately go away my finance job.
The pictures on this challenge have been, in essence, a chronicle of my therapeutic in addition to my progress as a photographer. Photographing nature distracted me from my unhappiness and gave me a way of goal. Research have proven that nature and even photos of nature present symptom reduction, decrease stress ranges, and scale back despair and anxiousness. To today, I discover my spirits lifting each time the airplane approaches Asahikawa Airport and I see the huge expanses of nature. I hope that my photos do the identical for others.

I typically marvel if happiness and different feelings are recurring. I skilled how unfavorable feelings can result in a downward spiral. Looking back, pictures was the brand new behavior, or maybe I ought to say habit, that broke the spell.

Though the urge to {photograph} had initially stemmed from an virtually determined want to lengthen the serenity that nature introduced, over time I started to take pleasure in merely being immersed in nature, marveling at its magnificence and being grateful for one more serendipitous encounter.


Photographing nature meant I needed to study extra about nature. I grew to become extra educated about varied pure phenomena by studying and thru expertise, that’s, making errors and studying from them.

Some pure phenomena like solar pillars are troublesome to come back by as they demand a confluence of a number of components, e.g., clear sky, extraordinarily low temperatures, excessive humidity, and calm, windless situations. As world temperatures heat and the climate turns into more and more erratic, solar pillars have gotten even rarer. I concern that there’ll come a day when this wonderful phenomenon could turn into extinct, and this concern has pushed me to {photograph} in higher earnest nowadays.

If I discover a scene that resonates with me, I may very well be there for hours, making an attempt to exhaust each chance of seeing and photographing. Nevertheless, many parts of nature equivalent to fog and diamond mud are ephemeral. I’m racing towards time to seize their magnificence earlier than they disappear when the fog lifts, the petals fall, the solar shifts, and snow bugs die. The four-character Japanese idiom, 一期一会 (ichi-go ichi-e), finest illustrates the truth that many encounters with nature happen as soon as in a lifetime and can’t be replicated even when the seasons repeat.


The seasons, in flip, remind me of the inevitability of loss of life and rebirth. The anniversary of my mom’s loss of life is identical day as a buddy’s birthday. I bear no grudge towards life however really feel only a easy appreciation of the truth that life is brief and valuable.

I’m typically at a loss when requested to clarify why I {photograph} what I {photograph}. I feel I simply find yourself capturing no matter strikes me emotionally. I’d probability upon a scene or a element and discover my coronary heart skipping a beat. I {photograph} by following my intestine, by intuition, on impulse. It’s very completely different from what I used to do as an funding banker the place logic and purpose trumped every part else.

Two items of recommendation have guided me by the challenge and I’ve stored them near my coronary heart. The primary is from Masumi Takahashi, a panorama photographer primarily based in Central Hokkaido. He informed me to keep up my objectivity and never be spellbound by the surroundings. That is very true when photographing uncommon and breathtaking occurrences equivalent to diamond mud. It’s simple to be so stuffed with awe and pleasure that as a substitute of calmly and creatively photographing the scene, I find yourself staying rooted in a single spot and hitting the shutter in a frenzied hurry.


One other piece of recommendation that I’d prefer to share is from my mentor, Nevada Wier. She jogs my memory to be goal when reviewing and choosing my photos, to not be clouded by the backstory and the expertise of constructing the picture. For instance, a picture shouldn’t be given benefit over one other simply because I had braved biting winds and bone-chilling temperatures to make that picture. She taught me to not confuse the deserves of the picture with the expertise itself.

I hope their phrases of knowledge will echo with you as they’ve with me.

I dedicate “Metamorphosis” to all of the lecturers who’ve touched my life in a method or one other, particularly my mentor, Nevada Wier, for serving to me develop my voice in pictures and galvanizing me with the generosity of her spirit.

The article courtesy of ELEMENTS Journal. The ELEMENTS is the month-to-month journal devoted to the best panorama pictures, insightful editorials and fluid, clear design. Inside you’ll discover an unique and in-depth articles and imagery by the most effective panorama photographers on the earth equivalent to Charles Cramer, Christopher Burkett, Chuck Kimmerle, Christian Fletcher, Charlie Waite, Rachael Talibart, John Sexton and Freeman Patterson, to call just a few. Use the PETAPIXEL10 code for a ten% low cost off the annual subscription.

Concerning the creator: Xuan-Hui Ng is a photographic artist from Singapore who at the moment resides in Tokyo. She has been chosen for juried exhibitions on the Griffin Museum, Davis Orton Gallery, Southeast Middle for Pictures, and A Smith Gallery, along with putting on the sixteenth Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Ladies Photographers in 2021.

From the artist: “The previous 11 years have been a interval of transformation for me. My want to spend extra time photographing in Japan led me to maneuver there and ultimately to go away my finance job. I’ve been rediscovering myself and recalibrating the tempo and path of my life. Spending time in nature has made it potential. I bear its imprint, artistically and temperamentally. My photos are a manifestation of those modifications. I dedicate these tokens of recollections to kindred spirits, the weary, the misplaced and the lonesome. I hope that they can also expertise the enjoyment I felt after I laid my eyes on these magical landscapes.”

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