Storytelling Harris

Often landscape photographers prefer working alone, keeping their beloved spots to themselves. But, for once, Nils (@am.basteir) decided to share his Isle of Harris with someone with a strong passion for nature. An experience that taught him how human interactions can help you to connect with the natural world.

After being in contact with photography for a decent amount of time, I started questioning myself about the meaning of my images. The human tendency for falling towards easy roads took me pretty quickly to the fact that I have a deep passion for nature. This is a common terrain among landscape photographers since some major figures have been closely related to the serious causes of nature preservation. This last commitment has a huge scope, which dwells between both conservation and sustainability. But something was still tickling me at an “existential” level. Recent events have convinced me that there are many people seriously committed with regards to environmental protection. And of course, this has very little to do with photography.

Landscape photography is an art many folks enjoy doing alone; me included. Therefore, I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone for this particular project. Hence, I decided to put aside technical perfection and allowed myself to explore various creative possibilities, which ultimately let me enjoy the moment like never before. And if that sounds like a story to you, then that’s exactly what this brief series of photographs is. I wanted to create a story that had a “human connection with the natural world” as the main character of it.

As a landscape photographer, it has never been easy for me to share my beloved spots on earth with other human beings. But for this time, I took the liberty of doing it, and I learned a deep and humbling lesson along the way. I’m sure there must be an anthropological concept that best describes this intrinsic connection some of us share with each other when it comes to nature. For me, it is simply a matter of belonging with the world and waiting for nature to unravel its secrets to our eyes. Photography is a great tool for this, since it allows us to see in a way we naturally can’t do, but capturing that sense of belonging is a different issue.

I still can’t explain how significant it was for me to share my beloved Isle of Harris in Scotland with another person. But I was surely convinced that her passion for nature would allow me to approach this aforementioned concept. And of course, this goes way beyond highly stylised photos created with the sole purpose of accumulating likes and reactions. This was about materialising that pristine and noble quality that is still very much alive in our species.

Capturing this feeling was quite intense with a person involved, so the true challenge for me was to capture the human presence in this beautiful place. And, of course, I’m referring to the obvious traces that speak about our kind. The sign, the boat, the wires – these all are signs of human presence. And for a long time, I have been trying to avoid all of these objects. For me, landscapes were solely about nature; but, after understanding that I’m not the only one with a deep love for the outdoors, I decided to step away from my comfort zone.

The humbling lesson I learned after crafting this story is that we indeed should share nature with other people in an “away from the screens” sort of way. Some photographers are heavily jealous about their findings, and I’m not here to judge that. But if you are one of those, consider sharing your favourite place at least once with people that still enjoy the aesthetic experience of being in the wild. It is just pointless not doing so: sharing the grandiosity of nature is the best way I know for building a solid mindset about keeping our planet safe for the generations to come. Conservation and sustainability are certainly not individualistic tasks; and have nothing to do with creating beautiful photographs for people to merely enjoy in the comfort of their homes across the globe via mobile screens.

Isle of Harris, Scotland

Nils Leonhardt


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