January 2, 2019
If you follow Fox & Owl on social media you’ll see photos or videos of the outdoors a lot that simply say “home”. I’ve had some folks asking me about why I do that so often and the simple answer is, because that’s where I feel the most at home. Even more than my own house. When I’m out in the woods or on a mountain or any natural space I am home. It’s about a sense of connectedness that one can only achieve when they’re out in the wild.
I am a blue ridge mountain native. I’ve grown up in these hills exploring, hiking, playing, living. It’s a fortunate way to grow up – getting to know a place intimately. When I’m out shooting with clients I usually have an idea of where I’d like to take them based on who they are. You’ll see all kinds of places in my work; rarely the same place twice. It all comes from the desire to keep exploring the unknown.
A few months ago I did a solo hike at Black Balsam. When I go to Black Balsam now, it’s for me. I go hike there to replenish my spirit, it’s a very special place. Not as a professional photographer, but as a human that needs natural open space. I was there on a Friday in the early summer. The hike in was so pleasant, I went to Tennent Mountain for lunch. I shared some of my rice krispie treats (best hiking snack ever, by the way. You wouldn’t think so but, trust me) with two other female hikers as we all took a break to relax and enjoy the wilderness area. As it got later in the afternoon I decided to head back toward Black Balsam to make some coffee and read Jaguar Woman. After my coffee I took some photos of the mountains and the moon, feeling super at peace and happy. Right around golden hour I hiked back toward the trail head. As I started my descent I saw no less than 6 photographers on the mountain with their clients. At first this brought a smile to my face – I like that there are folks enjoying the National Forest. That all changed as I approached the first photographer. Despite being well out of the way I was given askance looks and huffs of irritation as I passed. The theme continued along my descent. Out of the 6 folks I saw shooting I only recognized one. I’m assuming a lot of them were from out of town. The more I thought about it, the more pissed off I became. These are my mountains, I’m a hiker trying to enjoy a space that is set aside for recreation, relaxation, connection – not photoshoots.
That was an eye opening experience and frankly a concern for our mountains. It lead to several conversations with other local photographers that love our natural spaces like I do. They relayed stories that were strikingly similar to mine and also spoke about seeing styled shoots being set up and a lot of litter left behind from them. Bouquets, table scraps, illegal fires, cardboard boxes, bits of trash… or worse, tons of trash. This got all got me to thinking about an affective way to encourage education and a want to respect our wild areas. The bottom line is, they aren’t here for us and our job. They’re here to be enjoyed by everyone – two legs, four legs, winged, and rooted.
This has all lead to Ever Onward Creatives.
What is Ever Onward Creatives?
It’s a group of creatives – not just photographers in the wedding industry – that are committed to the stewardship of our area. Pisgah, the Parkway, Middle Prong, Shining Rock, etc. We will be an educated and aware group of people who go out in these spaces to create art with our clients while being respectful to the land and the natural inhabitants. We will be cordial and courteous to the people we encounter using the areas as they were intended. We won’t be crossing walls/boundaries that are in place to protect rare and fragile native flora. We won’t be bending the natural spaces to our will for shoots by creating fires where there shouldn’t be one or cutting branches from a tree because they’re in the shot. We won’t be using non-native flowers in bouquets so we keep invasive species out. We will take care to pack out what we pack in – and more when we see trash on the trail. We will educate others as needed. We will be advocates for Mother Earth and stewards of WNC. This is a pledge, an honor system. I’ve created a facebook group. with more resources and as a place for questions, experiences, comradery, etc. You’ll also find a google doc with a badge for your site/blog if you choose to share the collective. If this resonates with you and you want to take it a step further for an even bigger impact, please check out what Kathryn has put together: http://www.environmentalartistscollective.comc
This is your official invitation to join Ever Onward Creatives and continue the good work of enjoying these spaces while keeping them sacred, wild, and free. Happy Trails!
Blue Ridge Parkway Weddings:
Pisgah National Forest Weddings:
Leave No Trace:
A very heartfelt thank you my friend, Jeremy, for the EOC logo work. You can find (and hire, I’m just saying) him on Instagram at: instagram.com/theministryofaviation