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The Therapeutic Power of Long Drives for Creative Inspiration

In a fast-paced world, finding inspiration for our creative pursuits can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. My solution—taking a long drive.

My first photo drive took place earlier this fall. I was in a creative rut, and feeling restless at 2am. So of course, my reasonable self decided the best thing to do was grab my camera, a couple of Red Bulls, and hit the road to get some sunrise photos in Banff. Golden hour and mountains—what could go wrong?

Shifting your Surroundings for Moments of Solitude and Reflection

I didn't really have a plan going in to it. I knew that I wanted to drive out to the mountains, and that I wanted to photograph the sunrise, but apart from that, everything remained uncertain. I drove all the way to Banff, and stopped by a trailhead along the Alberta 1A highway. I arrived two hour before sunrise, so I hunkered down on a blanket and sat outside, listening to Morgan Wallen as time slowly passed by. As I waited, I thought about my photography. What my future might look like, things I wanted to do, and new projects I wanted to create. For the first time in a long time, I felt my creative juices flowing again! [and the bright moonlight definitely helped]. After a busy week of non-stop work and errands, I was finally granted a rare opportunity for solitude, providing a valuable space for introspection and reflection.

When the sun finally rose, light dispersed through the dense clouds, leaving the sky grey and dusty. The bright golden scene I had hoped for was gone, with fog rolling down the mountains peaks. The fog was beautiful, but the shot wasn't right, so I packed up and kept driving. As I continued along the highway, I came across an open field with two tall spruces plopped right in the middle, I immediately stopped, and took the shot.

Unplanned Moments of Beauty

As I looked for different ways to compose the shot, I noticed the clouds shifting, exposing more of the mountain towering behind the spruces. And so, I decided to sit back down and watch how the light and clouds would change shape around the mountains—and boy did they change. Sure, my first shot was pretty good, but the waiting had really paid off, as the photos took on a comlpetely different feel. I continued along the 1A, searching for more shots, but mostly just enjoying the drive and tunes.

Appreciating The Journey, Not Just The Destination

From that day on, I was hooked. Photo drives became a regular event. Even when the photos didn't turn out how I wanted, I was always happy to take some time to myself on the road. Instead of focusing solely on a final image, I begin to appreciate the process—the scouting, the unexpected, and the stories that unfolded along the way.

The drive became an integral part of the creative narrative for me. Some of my all-time favourite shots were taken on these long drives, with unexpected moments that I never would have thought of capturing had I gone out with a vision or plan. One of those unexpected moments being a fun little visit from some furry little critters [and god knows I don't always have the patience for wildlife photography].

So What?-

Exploring the open road not only offers a change in scenery but also an opportunity for solitude and reflection, allowing you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with your creative self. So, despite the hefty financial hit at the gas station, a long drive can always be a worthwhile and enriching experience.

So next time you find yourself yearning for creative inspiration, consider trading in the studio for the driver's seat. A long drive may just be the thing you need to breathe some life back into your photography. HOWEVER—try and get some sleep if you're getting behind the wheel~

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