For as long as I can remember I have been haunted by the siren song that calls me over the next mountain or beyond the far horizon. Settling is intolerable since within a short time the lure of the unknown and unseen becomes too intense and the restlessness increases until a new adventure is underway. The world is too wonderfully diverse to settle in only one place. Too much remains unseen and unexperienced.
Photography provides a creative outlet that fits well with wanderlust. Traveling to new, previously unexperienced places creates wonderful photographic opportunities so that the adventure may be shared.
While nomadic photography may not exactly be new, there is a new breed of nomadic photographers, frequently armed with both iPhone and digital camera, who travel the country (or world) to create and share their art. Kevin Russ, whose work I admire, has done a lot of nomadic photography in the American West and is one example of this new breed of photographers.
Photographer Josef Koudelka said it well during an interview for the New York Times Lens Blog:
“For 40 years I have been traveling. I never stay in one country more than three months. Why? Because I was interested in seeing, and if I stay longer I become blind.”
It is easy to become complacent with routine. In fact, it is all but impossible not to become complacent, settled, and overly comfortable without novelty or adventure. We cease to truly see and experience that with which we are routinely familiar.
Some people simply need adventure or novelty in their life to keep things interesting. For some of those people it may even be partly genetic. Regardless of the cause, some of us have a deeply-rooted need to live nomadically and to see what is over the next horizon (camera in hand, of course).