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On chasing waterfalls

Chapman Falls - East Haddam, CT

During my holiday visit to Connecticut, I spent a good deal of time looking for - and photographing - waterfalls. In that time, I slipped twice, almost dropped my lens filters into a raging river, scraped the bottom of my car on a dirt road, and parked quite illegally for a brief period. Still, I was happy to tick a few more cascades off of my list and was thoroughly satisfied with the images I captured.

It wasn’t until my second day back at work, slogging into New York City that I wondered, “why do I look for waterfalls wherever I go?”. I mulled on that most of the day, and here I am on the evening of that very same day, still mostly empty-handed. I have a vague feeling of their importance to me, but the lump of clay just isn’t turning into a pot. The words do not come easily.


Buttermilk Falls - Chester, NJ


Perhaps a history lesson will coax this along. It all began in the dawn of the 1990s, when I would ask my parents to drive me home from daycare on a windy bit of road between Plainfield and Short Hills, New Jersey. On the route was a large cement mixer (for which I had a strange obsession), a McDonald’s, and most importantly, a series of waterfalls just off the road, all varied in shape and size. They were the main attraction of this detour, and my parents would slow down every time so I could gaze at them.

I was hoping that I would discover something profound in this. I hoped that my childhood fascination with these natural phenomena could figuratively trickle down into the essence of why I’m willing to sacrifice my camera gear, oil pan, and parking-ticket-free lifestyle of the past few years.

In keeping with the blatant waterfall puns, maybe a little stream of consciousness might help me.

Water flowing down.

Falling water.


This is good.

I’m making a written waterfall.

I think we’ve cracked it.

Latourell Falls - Columbia Gorge, OR

Latourell Falls - Columbia Gorge, OR

Water always finds a path through walls, clutter, and deadfall. In my case, the walls, clutter and deadfall are long commutes, idle hours watching Netflix, and anything else that keeps me inside for long periods of time. The water is the crucial creative fuel that gets me outside to find meaning by photographing and writing about my favorite things in life. The water conforms and even breaks the blockages in front of it. A cascade forms. When I began this post, I hadn’t a single idea where it would end, but the act of writing created a trickle, then a stream.

The medium, I suppose, is indeed the message.

I’m not convinced this made a modicum of sense, but that’s probably the closest I’ll get for some time.

Waterfalls are a source of creativity, and in so doing, they can be used as a way to illustrate creativity itself. Water is an essential part of life, and creativity is an essential part of mine, even if I don’t get to experience it as often as I’d like to. Yet, given enough time and motivation, it’ll carve through most anything in its path.

Neat. What an odd little journey we just went on.