My fascination with nature was greatly influenced by my childhood experiences living in a National Park with my parents. All these memories and love for the wilderness emerged strongly in my twenties, as I tirelessly hiked and climbed many parks and mountains across the Andes of Chile.

I always felt the need to express the powerful feelings nature had produced in my childhood and in my twenties. And that’s when photography came into the scene. Before that, I never cared about photography. My father (a creative photographer himself) tried to teach me the basics of photography. But as a teenager, I couldn’t find it interesting. By the time I adopted photography as a medium of personal expression (i.e. late twenties), significant changes had already occurred in the way I sensed the world and reflected about reality.

I didn’t want to “record” my experiences and show them to other people, as other photographers and adventurers aim for. Rather, I wanted to communicate ideas and feelings to an audience about the crucial role that nature has played in my life. Nature has always been a relevant component in my physical and mental well-being. And it is currently a great source of inspiration for reflecting about how I understand reality, and how I emotionally and intellectually respond to its attributes. Thus, representational and objective images have little to do with what I aim with my work; I want to communicate feelings, sensations, and reflections about how my life intersects with nature. Isn’t that the goal of any good art after all?

In this artistic journey, my writings are also important. I use writing not to write about photographs, but rather to make reflections around images. It is not among my priorities to discuss my images in their intent or meaning. Rather, I use writing as a tool to express other ideas that may be complementary to my images or to reflect on topics that are situated in the intersection between life, nature, and photography. Also, I believe technical discussions, such as what camera or lens I use, how I created my images or what digital editing techniques I prefer, have little or no meaning in this website, specifically, and they have no place in how I understand photography as a medium of self-expression, broadly.

In other words, I use Photography and Writing as artistic vehicles through which to convey my views about the role of nature in (my) life, my deep reverence for it, my emotional and intellectual responses to the landscape, and to communicate my thoughts and experiences along the journey of creative self-expression in Photography.

Finally, even though I place a high value on self expression, in the last couple of years I’ve grown uncomfortable with the idea of purely asserting “the self”. I’ve realized that we, contemporary photographers, are sometimes too focused on expressing our feelings, ideas or worldviews. To be sure, good art is made out of those primordial characteristics, which, at best, provide us with hints about what it means to be alive or to be human. At worst, they beget essential questions about our existence. But essentializing Nature and Photography up to the point of being mere instruments to travel inwards can be certainly a less fulfilling journey. What we consider worth of self-expression can blind us from seeing things that are equal or even are far beyond our human concerns and consciousness. Focusing too much on our needs, we might be missing out on attributes or events in nature that could be even worthier to be revealed, as opposed to our humanity. I believe it is a much healthier and fulfilling journey to find a balance between these two paradigms. One that places importance not only in human experiences and feelings, but also one that lets nature reveals itself, in a more pure state, and all its complexity, without too much of the constraints imposed by our human rationale. This will always be a challenging goal to achieve for me: balance; but one of a higher value to pursue if I want to find greater meaning in art-making.

Paulo Valdivia