The landscape of the outdoors industry has seen a dramatic shift over the years. Gone are the simple days, when hunters browsed the magazine aisle of the local convenience store to pick up their favourite magazine, while the non-hunter walked on by; gone are the days when anglers would head out and buy the latest fishing show on tape, while the other people else browsed a different section of the store. In today’s digital world, the lives of the outdoorsperson are often put on full display for everyone to see.
Social media has become the melting pot where different worlds are blended together – no longer are different lifestyles seemingly separated. Photos are tactfully curated, and words carefully chosen so as to not ruffle any feathers. Storytelling is part of the experience, that much is true, but sometimes the poetic nature of things leaves out a critical piece of the picture. Yes, an animal was harvested, but it was also killed, a difficult act of one life being taken to provide sustenance for another. Yes, the close snapshot of a thankful hand resting on the hide of an animal exemplifies the emotion of the moment, but there are also hard, gritty moments that are not often shared with the world.
I tend to gravitate towards the non-controversial narratives, but I can’t help but wonder – are we doing ourselves a disservice by heavily editing those moments out of the experiences we share? There is a balance to it all, of course, one that illustrates the gravity of the moment, but one that also shows the foraging of an ever-growing connection to what appears on our dinnerplate. Navigating the digital world requires a bit of tact, and a heavy dose of respect for every being involved in the conversation.
Most importantly, for those of us who make a living documenting our life in the outdoors, is to make time for moments that are solely for ourselves – in the solace of a quiet stroll, through the woods on a cool autumn evening, soaking in the deep connection to nature that comes when we disconnect from our phones, if only for a few hours.