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What Does Connecting to Nature Mean to You? [Compilation]

What Does Connecting to Nature Mean to You? [Compilation]

Episode 84: Today, we’re paying tribute to the last ten incredible guests we’ve had on the podcast.  Each of them has shared their wisdom and valuable perspectives about photography, creativity, composition, and connecting with nature.  This special Tidbit Tuesday is a compilation of their responses to the last question I ask, which is: What does connecting with nature mean to you?  Their responses are touching and thought-provoking, and I hope they inspire you to consider what connecting with nature means to you, too.  Please enjoy!


Episode 63: Alyce Bender

Episode 65: Justin Black

Episode 67: David Thompson

Episode 69: Viktoria Haack

Episode 71: David Johnston

Episode 73: Ben Williamson

Episode 75: Colleen Gara

Episode 77: Anna Morgan

Episode 79: Kristen Ryan

Episode 83: Charles Needle

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Alyce BenderProfile Photo

Alyce Bender


Alyce Bender, who goes by Bender, is a nature photographer, writer, educator, and adventurer. Growing up with a camera in hand, her fascination for photography developed into a career after serving in the U.S. Air Force. Her passion for wildlife and the natural environment compels her to connect others with nature through sharing both visual art and in-field experiences that promote conservation, creativity, and ethical photography.

Bender is a Tamron USA Ambassador, contributing writer and photographer for the Journal of Wildlife Photography, and a Nature First Texas Region Ambassador. Her work has been featured in group and solo gallery shows across the U.S. as well as in international publications from the U.K. to Japan. She leads photography adventures around the world to help beginner through advanced photographers explore and expand their personal vision and naturalist skills ethically. When not in the field, she offers a variety of educational programs both in person and virtually for photography organizations large and small.

Justin BlackProfile Photo

Justin Black


Justin Black is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, and a Fujifilm X-Photographer.

After working for ten years at Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography and then serving as the executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers, he founded Visionary Wild ( in 2011 to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

Justin's photographs have been published by National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Live!, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy among many others. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for brands such as MasterCard, Patagonia, Nikon, and Fujifilm. Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, EarthJustice, The Wilderness Society, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

Justin has also been an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell.

David ThompsonProfile Photo

David Thompson


David Thompson is a landscape and nature photographer from Las Vegas, Nevada who describes himself as a regular guy who likes to take pictures of the landscape. Spending most of his childhood exploring the outdoors and playing in the deserts and foothills of the Sacramento Mountains, he has a deep appreciation for and connection to nature.

David’s interest in photography was first sparked in childhood by a photograph of his grandfather’s, but he didn’t get serious about his pursuit of that interest until later in life after his son was born. In 2008, he purchased his first digital camera, and as they say, the rest is history. He passionately dedicated himself to learning the art and craft of photography, and he now enjoys helping others on their journeys as well.

Viktoria HaackProfile Photo

Viktoria Haack


Viktoria Haack is a professional photographer whose work covers the fields of landscape, portrait, wedding, event, promotional, editorial, stock and photography education. Originally from the UK and having resided in British Columbia since 2007, she is heavily influenced by the beautiful landscapes that surround her. Combining her love of the natural world with her background in art history and anthropology, Viktoria’s ethos is to thread lightly while observing and finding the subtle visual story within any photographic genre she works.

Viktoria is proud to be a Nikon Canada Ambassador as well as a Lowepro Global Ambassador. Additional collaborations have included Lee Filters, Purina, BC-SPCA, Vichy Canada, Gnarbox, Klymit, Telus, Heatholders, and The National Trust (the largest conservation charity in the UK).

Viktoria’s photography and writing has been published by numerous media outlets around the globe, including the BBC, CBC, N Photo Magazine, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, Photo Life, PHOTO News Magazine, Canadian Geographic, Vogue Italia and the cover of Digital Photo.

David JohnstonProfile Photo

David Johnston


David Johnston started his journey into photography back in 2004 when he took a film photography course in high school. However, it was in 2010 that he really became obsessed with photography after he got his first DSLR camera. At that point, he decided to put all of his energy into photography to make it his career.

In 2014 he started his first blog and podcast called Photography Roundtable where he met some of his best photography friends and enabled him to teach and run photography workshops at national parks throughout the United States. He now hosts a second podcast called the Landscape Photography Show.

David also helps people improve their nature photography with video content on YouTube, post-processing courses, and video tutorials.

Benjamin WilliamsonProfile Photo

Benjamin Williamson


Benjamin Williamson is an award-winning landscape and travel photographer from Maine.
After hitting pause on his burgeoning career in a rock band, Ben picked up a camera for the first time in 2012 and never looked back. Likes of his iconic New England scenes on social media turned into requests for prints and licensing, and within two years, Ben’s creative hobby turned into a profession with a full-time position at Down East Magazine, where he served as both the photo editor and then as a staff photographer. In 2018, the US postal service chose one of Ben’s photographs for its “O Beautiful” series.

Ben’s driving motivation behind his photography is to share his deep connection to nature and his experiences of awe and wonder of natural phenomena. He’s also fascinated with how human beings fit into the natural world in symbiotic, beautiful, and ingenious ways. He loves to showcase the places and spaces that bring us closer to nature and to each other, like lighthouses and fishing boats, town centers and cultural landmarks. He recently decided to go into full-time freelance photography to pursue more personally expressive and creative work.

Colleen GaraProfile Photo

Colleen Gara

Wildlife Photographer

Colleen Gara is a wildlife photographer, writer, and educator based in Calgary, Alberta in Canada. Her focus is on Canadian wildlife, and her subjects include grizzly and black bears, wolves, lynx, swift and red fox, moose, elk and more. She is passionate about photographing animals in their natural, wild surroundings, from the Rocky Mountains to the prairies.

Colleen’s hope is that her images will help foster a connection between the viewer and her wild subjects, raising awareness to protect both the animals and their natural habitats. She strongly believes in ethical photography practices and all of her images are of wild animals only – none are captive or baited.

Colleen’s photographs have been featured in publications worldwide, including Audubon, Photo Life, Canadian Geographic, Wild Planet Photo, and Nature’s Best. She also is a contributing writer for Nature TTL and is a workshop leader with OFFBEAT Photography.

Anna MorganProfile Photo

Anna Morgan

Photographer and Writer

Anna Morgan is a nature photographer and writer currently residing with her family of four in British Columbia, Canada. After practicing veterinary medicine for about 12 years, she enrolled in a postgraduate masters program in the transdisciplinary field of Conservation Medicine. Her research brought photography and conservation together to examine the role of the conservation photographer, and opened the door for her to explore her self-awareness and brought her a deeper understanding of the structural frameworks that underpin the premise of conservation photography. With a focus on intimate landscapes and an emphasis on connecting to place from an introspective perspective, Anna aims to create expressive images that capture the quiet, mysterious beauty she finds in nature.

Kristen RyanProfile Photo

Kristen Ryan


Kristen Ryan is a fine art landscape photographer and educator specializing in capturing the grand and intimate beauty of our natural world. Photographing nature brings her a sense of calm and serenity, and she is passionate about helping others achieve that feeling through her teaching and retreats. Specifically, she loves to encourage women to find creativity and connection at her ladies’ landscape photography retreats held in the US and Canada and in her online community, called Women Capture Magic (

Charles NeedleProfile Photo

Charles Needle


Charles Needle is an award-winning, Colorado-based fine art photographer, author, speaker and workshop leader with a unique eye for design and artistic interpretation. His popular “Art of Nature” creative macro workshops have attracted students nationwide.

A popular conference and camera club speaker, photography juror and international teacher, Charles has authored three cutting edge instructional books: Tiny Worlds: Creative Macro Photography Skills, Impressionistic Photography: A Field Guide to Using Your Camera as a Paintbrush , and Creative Macro Photography: Professional Tips & Techniques.

Charles is also a FujiFilm USA Talent Team member and has been North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Showcase Award winner for 14 years.

Charles’ photographs have been selected for publication in Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer magazine, Nature Photographer magazine, Inner Reflections Engagement Calendar, The Chicago Tribune, SELF Magazine and are in private and public collections nationwide and abroad.