My research was rooted in the concern that we who live in modern cultures are losing our sense of being part of nature, and that as our sense of connectedness diminishes, so too does our care for nature and our appreciation for its importance to our own well-being. Numerous studies have shown that contact with nature is important to our health. Many psychologists and philosophers have asserted that spending time in nature is also necessary to feeling connected with nature. For this study, I explored how undergraduate photojournalism students experienced nature when they spent time outdoors working on an assignment that involved focusing (quite literally) on nature. The original plan used a mixed-methods approach that balanced quantitative and qualitative input. Due to realities of the study, the emphasis shifted to the qualitative data, where the meaningful and interesting results were found. Participants' entries in photographic logs and face-to-face interviews provided the qualitative input. I used a semistructured approach and auto-driven photo-elicitation in the interviews. During the analysis, I added collaging as creative expression to assist with the thematic analysis and review by a Resonance Panel to validate my coding.
Nature Photography and the Ecological Self: A Mixed-Methods Study