on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Xuan-Hui Ng – Portrait of a Photographer

Nature photography as art therapy

Matt Payne

Matt Payne

Matt Payne is a landscape photographer and mountain climber from Durango, Colorado. He’s the host of the weekly landscape photography podcast, “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen,” co-founder of the Nature First Photography Alliance, and co-founder of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards. He lives with his wife, Angela, his son Quinn, and his four cats, Juju, Chara, Arrow, and Vestal.


Xuan Huing 1

For many nature and landscape photographers, one of the greatest appeals of landscape photography is its requirement for spending time outside in nature away from the chaos and stress of daily life. It is well documented through rigorous scientific research that spending time in nature can have significant positive effects on our mood, immune system, blood pressure, and stress levels. The Japanese have long-known about these positive impacts and have recommended “forest bathing” or “Shinrin-yoku” since the 1980s to reduce stress and improve the immune system.

As nature photographers, we also likely have all experienced these positive impacts somewhat inadvertently as part of our travels into nature with the camera; however, to fully embrace these effects, one should engage all their senses in the process, including sight, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. This doesn’t mean you should start licking your camera lenses; however, I strongly believe that through fully immersing ourselves in nature as photographers, we can harness these effects not only for our health but also to produce more personally expressive and highly engaging artwork in a way that the subject of this article has.

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