Telling the Story in a Picture

By Kirsten Carlson

Why do you take pictures? Perhaps as a tangible remembrance of an event, to collect and document information, as a hobby, etc.

Each photo we take has personal meaning and story to each of us while it may elicit a different meaning and story for another. I enjoy taking photographs of nature because my pictures tell the story of my home and experiences that I can share with others. They help me to remember what I have seen, with whom and where. They all relate back to my story. The point is that we each take pictures for different reasons and each photograph has a story to tell each of us. You are the author of your own photographs.

One particular reason I use photographs is as an aid to learn about the subject, to notice patterns and discrepancies; they help me to find some extraordinary aspects that I may have missed by “just walking by.” Photos help me to wonder and ask questions to research later.

Taking nature pictures allows me to reinforce my connection of being a part of nature. For example, examine this picture of an American robin nest I found in my yard. What do you notice? What do you not notice? What emotions does it evoke? What questions do you have? What story does this picture tell you? I ended up taking a photograph each day of this nest until the three robins fledged. What a story I have to share in those pictures about the egg laying process and development of songbirds.

Nature is full of extraordinary wonders that can be shared through photographs. Oak Heritage Conservancy hosts an annual amateur photography contest. Entries are due by October 31. It’s a free event for people of all ages. This year’s theme is “Nature Next Door.”

To find out more about this contest, visit There are divisions for youths and adults. Get outside and take those pictures to tell the story of your wanderings as you explore nature near you, whether that’s at a nearby preserve or state park, when you go pick pumpkins this fall, or in your own backyard.

The photo contest is made possible by the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

If you are interested in finding the nature that resides in you and to find the extraordinary in the ordinary things we see or pass up every day, then consider participating in one or more of our events, where you can get personal with nature to make or strengthen your connections to Earth. Find an event at

Oak Heritage is a nonprofit that protects more than 1,100 acres of habitat in southeast Indiana, including old growth forests, native wildflower meadows, creeks, and wetlands. The conservancy host hands-on nature programs for the public. Their work is possible because of support from their members, donations and grants.

Carlson is a biology teacher at Ivy Tech Community College and the education and outreach coordinator for Oak Heritage Conservancy.