Pictures With a Purpose: What Great Nature Photos Teach Us

Jennifer Bilodeau / AMC Photo ContestA quiet moment of planning at AMC’s Greenleaf Hut, captured through the lens of Photo Contest entrant Jennifer Bilodeau.

The return of AMC’s photo contest to the pages of our magazine is such a welcome sight during this in-between season of ice and mud. Not that joy isn’t present in either element, but it’s nice to be warmed by the views, the stories, the adventures, and the humanity that this event—and these nature photos—calls up from all across the region.

It’s a good reminder, too, that as much as photographs are an easy and powerful addition to everyday communication in the smartphone era, framing is everything. Two pictures of the same subject might tell us disparate or even opposite tales. And the skill and experience of the person behind the camera—like that of the person grasping the felling ax, on the other end of the climbing rope, or astride the kitchen stove at day’s end—impacts us in profound if not always perceptible ways.

Perhaps more than anything, I want to recognize what a generous act of hospitality it is for every one of these photographers to have shared their experiences with us. Thank you for bringing your lives to ours in full color and without agenda—your favorite places and things to do, your families and pets, your inspirations, your achievements, your solitude, your socks, your sandwiches, your stuff, your ice, and your mud.

Uniting it all, of course, is the outdoors. In framing our pursuits as one AMC community, the outdoors illuminates our purpose together so richly. And it’s worth considering what our world might look like were we to consider every aspect of our lives not just in the context of our relationship with the outdoors, but as if it were being preserved by a camera, too—every relationship, every job, every big decision, every little purchase, every vote. It’s not always possible, I know, but it’s always revealing to try.

See you on the trail,

John Judge

President & CEO


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John D. Judge, President

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.