It is very easy when we think about World Earth Day to think of the many reasons why we want to highlight this incredible planet we live on. The focus on protection often comes with the negative aspects and consequences we face right now in terms of conservation and the climate crisis. We truly believe that in order to create change, connection, passion and understanding what it is that connects us to the world we live in is incredibly important. Trying to create change from a place of scarcity is hard but igniting change from a place of passion sees great steps forward.
For World Earth Day this year, we handpicked a number of people to reflect on an experience they’ve had in the world that has truly made them feel connected to it. With each, we asked them to include a photograph – one of the comments we received the most was that it was tough to pick just one! We hope you get some inspiration from these fantastic sentiments which show such a vast understanding of what the world can mean to you as an individual concept. Your connection and story can help create such incredible change!
Matt Doyle is a photographer, filmmaker, mental health advocate and the co-founder of This Expansive Adventure WEB | IG
I’ve always dreamed of mountains, I grew up in Dublin in Ireland where it is relatively flat.Sure, we had the Dublin Mountains – you could see them from the city on a clear day, and sometimes they’d even get snow.They were an amazing resource to have… But these weren’t the mountains in my mind.Not dizzying, gravity-defying peaks, spiralling up and up out of sight, or deep valleys and bottomless ravines folding themselves into the living earth.I finally got to see the Alps when I was in my thirties, and their association with that visual language of my dreams was still there waiting for me and just as strong as I could remember from my childhood.For me, my connection with nature is about something deeper that I can’t quite define: A mountain peak that I could never climb; A glimpse of a stream vanishing underground; Impenetrable pine forests or that particular feeling of fresh snowfall compacting underfoot. It connects me with things that are more primal and undefined – things that live just out of reach, in my dreams.
ID: A square, black and white image. The contrast is very high in this mountain image. In the foreground are alpine mountains that are snow capped. In the background there are more snow capped mountains. The clouds are dramatic in the sky.
ID: A landscape image. A close up detail of golden lit grasses with blue snowy background.
Fay Doyle is a photographer, filmmaker, mental health advocate, climate activist, and the co-founder of This Expansive Adventure
This was an incredibly special trip for me – I still struggle to quantify exactly what it was about it that was so special, but it just felt like magic. We’d been travelling for a while by this point, but on this trip, I started to feel this ultimate sense of connection in a way I’d never felt before. I knew I was on the right path and doing the right thing. This image, whilst it might seem simple based on some of my other images holds a very special place for me and makes me smile every time I see it. We’d been hiking and exploring all day in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. I felt alive – we were exploring in such a free way and I was seeing mountains in ways I never had before. I’d started to overcome so many limiting beliefs on this trip so I was already on a high, but when we took some time to enjoy this area, something really incredible happened to me. I was sat watching this view as the light hit these grasses with these incredible mountains in the background. I felt this sense of joy and love inside me that I’d never experienced before and I felt so connected to what was happening. Free from worry. It was at that point that I realized life is very much made up of details and these small elements, if we take a moment to look, dance like poetry through our lives. In times when we might not feel so elated, they can also work as soothing reminders as to just what a beautiful world we live in.
Michelle Ellison is an adventurer, speaker, and author who has brought Kula to the UK
Looking through my eyes into this photo you are seeing connection. Connection to my family, to my love of nature, adventuring and my ‘heart-home’ New Zealand. Surrounded by water and mountains in Lake Manapouri (South Island, NZ). Beautiful yes, but it is what you can’t see in this photo that fills my heart. I am standing next to my mum who lives in NZ, while I live in the UK. We go on mini adventures together, focusing on quality time not quantity. We were just ending 24 hours on the most magnificent yacht sailing through Doubtful Sounds. It is one of the most spectacular experiences that I have ever had. Waterfalls all around us, stillness, space to breathe. Native NZ bush for as far as the eyes can see. No other humans. No other manmade structure in sight. Just us and nature. Me and my mum standing next to each other. The women who loves me unconditionally, my biggest supporter and voice of reason and calm, here together looking out over the water, the mountains and that sky. My heart feels full.
ID: A landscape image. In the bottom third is water – this is cast very dark blue by an incredibly dramatic sky with dark clouds. On the horizon, you can just make out the shadows of hills in the background.
ID: A landscape image. In the foreground is bright blue water of a coastline. In the background and for the second two thirds of the image are mountains and lush areas. The area looks warm and tropical.
Norma Bertsch is an interior architect and photographer
The Napali Coast is impressive at any time of day. But in the afternoon and evening, everything appears even more intense.As the sun slowly sinks lower, a play of light and shadow emerges, bringing out the sharp-edged rocks in an imposing way. The lush green on the slopes, the deep blue of the water, the play of colours in the sky, plus the sound of the waves and the smell of salt water – an indescribable combination. I grew up in Switzerland and still live here, but my brother emigrated to Kauai (Hawaii) 10 years ago. When I visit him, a sunset cruise to the Napali Coast is simply part of the experience. Just as we admire the mountains in Switzerland, we never get tired of nature in Kauai. The Napali Coast shows an untouched nature. Mother Nature as she once was and still remains here. Rocks, plants, waterfalls, beaches, animals… a paradise. No wonder Kauai is also called Garden Island. It is a beautiful feeling of peace, gratitude and connection to nature.
I’ve had some incredible moments healing in nature, some of the most profound have happened on Catalina Island (Ancestral lands of the Tongva), off the coast of Los Angeles, California. Following my last thru-hike of the Trans-Catalina Trail in 2018, I told a friend I would host group hikes someday. I had no idea how that would happen, but my confidence in that statement was astounding. In 2015, I wrote in a small corner of my journal, “wilderness retreats?”This photo is a celebratory moment. Sharing the healing power of nature with folks I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t heal my own trauma. Basking in the glow of the energy we all carry, connecting with humanity for the first time in more than a year. An affirmation of all the choices I’ve made, the choices that brought me to this moment and made it possible.
ID: A landscape image. Five people stand close together taking a photograph, they look happy. The are all wearing warm weather clothes such as shorts and t-shirts and hats. There is a bright blue sky behind them and they are stood next to a cove with crystal clear blue water and a boat in the background.
ID: A landscape image. A group of people sit to the right hand side of the frame – they look to be in conversation. They are wearing bright colours. On the top left of the frame is a barrier with dense shrubs and trees.
Curtis Moise is a Knowledge and Information Management Professional with a huge passion for travel, culture and foodCurtis has chosen to highlight a local business relating to his image for inclusion – Ma Ma Ti Trekking and Homestay, SaPa, Vietnam, +84 394 121 974
I love to discover the soul of a city or country when I travel. I’m drawn to people, and how the various subcultures fit within a society. Sapa was my most memorable stop in Vietnam. I randomly joined a hiking tour led by Mama Ti, and stayed for the day as I loved the hospitality of the Hmong villagers. If you visit Vietnam, make a trip to Sapa – it’s a beautiful hiking adventure. It’s even better when hosted by one of the amazing local villagers.
Ruth Hoskinsis a writer, content strategist and humaniser for brands who loves adventure
We were camping near Zadar in Croatia, the third stop in a sixteen-week tour of Europe in our yellow campervan Annie. I love the beauty of doing a mundane activity – like hanging washing up – made more beautifulby the surroundings, tucked beneath the most fragrant pine trees I’ve ever found. I love this photo because it reminds me of living out of a tent and van for so long and of a time when we were living our best lives – showing my kids the world rather than telling them about it. I’ve honestly never felt more connected. To my children, my husband, to myself, and to our beautiful planet.
ID: A landscape image. In the foreground right is the edge of a yellow van. In the middle of the image are too people engaging around an outside table. There are lines of washing with brightly coloured towers drying in a gentle breeze. In the background, trees are cast with a soft yellow light which is burning out the trees in places.
ID: A portrait image. Wearing a high altitude suit with breathing apparatus. In the glasses is a reflection of the arms holding a phone taking a picture with snowy mountains in the background.
Jamie Ironmonger is a high altitude mountaineer, expedition leader, emergency services mental health ambassador and the founder of Adventure 999WEB|IG
23rd May 2019 – Mt. Everest Tibet. This marks a dark time in Everest’s history. A typhoon off the coast of India caused havoc with the weather system, as mountaineers rushed towards the highest point on earth to be able to claim that they had stood ‘on top of the world’. For some there wasn’t enough time. 11 climbers never came home that season. I was exhausted. I just sat down as the disappointing reality of the situation hit me like a sledge hammer. Looking towards the summit, I watched the huge plume of ice being blasted off the northeast ridge from the sheer force of the wind, as the long line of climbers above me began to queue. With my oxygen running low and the storms approaching, I knew I was going to be in trouble soon. I looked out across the entire Himalaya. Higher than any other mountain in the world, it was the view I had dreamed of. This was it. This is what I had risked everything to come and see. The vibrant deep blue of the stratosphere above, the ever-so-slight curvature of the horizon, and those once towering mountains below, now resembling snow covered mole hills.“Look how far you’ve come!?” I told myself. “You can be proud, but now it’s time to go home. You can’t stay up here forever.”I had time to take one quick ‘selfie’ to mark the moment, and then I slowly heaved myself to my feet and turned away from the summit.I knew I would be changed forever after such an intensely powerful experience.
Abbie Baynes is a senior marketing and PR executive at Spring PR WEB
Back before the times of Covid, I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks travelling around the North East of the USA. One of the last stops on our trip was Boston and, wanting to soak up the natural beauty of New England’s state parks, we booked a hiking trip through the Blue Hills Reservation. The unique thing about this particular hike was the must-see view at the top of the trail. We were surrounded by lush green trees, beautiful red cardinals and crystal clear lakes and streams as we climbed up the rocky path towards the United States’ oldest meteorological observatory and onwards to a lookout tower. At the top of this tower, you’re greeted with unbroken skyline views of the city of Boston. Breath taking, there is an ocean of greenery as far as the eye can see and right in the centre skyscrapers protruding out from the ground. Being somewhere like that really gives you an idea of how small we are compared to the abundance of nature around us. The feeling reminded me of a video I had come across showing what would happen if humans simply disappeared one day and how quickly nature would bounce back and take over. The experience was a far cry from the manicured lawns and perfectly pruned trees at our previous stop in Washington DC and one I’ll always treasure.
ID: A landscape image. In the foreground are lush and dense green toned trees which hold half of the image. In the mid of the picture you can just make out a city skyline. Above is clear blue sky.
ID: A landscape image. A person stands in the centre of the frame wearing outdoor clothes for cold weather. The person is stood on a snowy outdoor scene – with mountains all around covered in snow. There is cloud in the image but in the background we can see a heavy blue clear sky emerging.
This is me, halfway up the north ridge of Tryfan, my all-time favourite mountain in my all-time favourite country.Tryfan stands proudly alone at the head of the Ogwen Valley and its crested North Ridge bristles against the skyline, making it quite possibly the perfect mountain.My best mate Tim and I had camped at Gwern-Gof-Uchaf campsite the night before and woke early to a fresh fall of snow. The magical light created by those conditions made it feel particularly special and the excitement of scrambling the ridge in perfect winter conditions was a rare treat.You can escape from the “world” yet still feel connected to the place, the community, and the history of the whole valley as it unfolds beneath your feet. Tryfan was also my first proper mountain adventure with my Dad when I was 15.My feelings of excitement and expectation here, were married by a real sense of calm and tinged with nostalgia and sadness for my late Father who also loved this mountain. I feel great comradeship with Tim who I’ve climbed and mountaineered with for many years.We’ve developed a kind of third sense of each other’s wellbeing and security in these situations.It’s these adventures, in the wild places of creation, that really feed the soul and keep us connected to the important things in life. They don’t have to happen very often, and they don’t have to always be extreme, but they do have to happen, otherwise we get swallowed up by the mind-numbing treadmill of this modern life.
Emma Westman is Communications Director at Black Diamond
This photo reminds me of one of my favourite experiences from my travels in California. We were lucky enough to go paragliding over the cliffs of La Jolla in northern San Diego – life doesn’t get much better than that! We had been surfing in the morning and then after some banging tacos for lunch we got up in the air, and it felt like such a pure Californian day where we made the most of the outdoors around us and soaked it all in (but in ways that we would never do in London – because this is Cali after all!) If you’ve been paragliding before you’ll know that you have to literally run off the cliff edge in order to get lift off, which is everything your head is telling you not to do, but the moment you feel the ground go from underneath you it’s the coolest feeling – crazy and serene at the same time. We had the Pacific stretched in front of us with gorgeous afternoon sun and I remember thinking that this was absolute pure happiness.
ID: A portrait image. In the foreground are two people who are facing away from the camera. They are bathed in golden light. Behind them is a cliff edge which is also bathed in golden light. In the background you can see the ocean which is dark blue with crashing white waves. In the sky is a paraglider . The sky is a milky shade of pink, blue and yellow.
ID: A landscape image. Five people sit around a bonfire in the foreground. They are all engaged and look to be talking. In the background is a white, washed out sky and behind them are trees.
This analog photo was taken in 2012 during a bike trip across the Lofoten Islands – Norway. We were there during the so-called “White Nights” and I believe the time was around 2am in this picture – hard to tell!
On that evening, thanks to the good weather, we managed to camp at the beach. After the tents were up, we started a bonfire to keep us warm as we shared some silly old stories – anything to cheer us up from the tough day we all had on the saddle! My greatest adventure and travel memories involve not only the challenges but mainly who was there experiencing it with me. It helps to keep those memories of moments alive! In this image, from left to right: John, Ben, myself, Marteen and Joe.