Finding My Way

by John Warden

This article was first published in the Winter 2019 Editiion of Island Arts Magazine


The Chinese word Tao refers to a path, quest or a journey and it was the Taoist sage, Lao Tzu, who wrote ‘a journey of thousand miles begins with a first step’. My own journey began when I was 8 years old. My grandmother gave my brothers and me an old Kodak Brownie camera to play with. There was no film in the camera but at least for a day or two, I looked through the view finder and I pressed the shutter, pretending that I was a photographer. I was just fooling around having fun, but it was my first look into the world of photography.

I bought my first SLR camera in the 1970’s and started taking photographs of the landscapes of Alberta. Then, a couple of field trips with my brother introduced me to the mysterious beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

In 2002, I met my wife Debra and one day she asked ‘If you hadn’t been a police officer, what other career, might you have chosen’? ‘Probably a nature photographer’, I replied. And that’s when I got really serious about my art. I bought a digital camera and I began creating opportunities to take pictures. Through practice, I began to learn the art. I started thinking about composition and writing articles about my experiences out in the field. Photography became a significant part of my every day. Here too, the word Tao is relevant as it also means way as in a way of life and author Dave Lowry writes that “early Taoists, urged a way of life attuned to the currents of nature”.

It all seems to fit together. Since the days of my childhood and that first Kodak Brownie camera, I’ve been on a journey where, step by step, I’m tuning my art to the currents of nature. In the doing, I’m finding my way.

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