Social media accounts and local news sites have been abuzz with the word for the past month; the once every so often gorgeous outpouring of flowers driven by a wet winter.

The superbloom attracts droves of influencer hopefuls to the entrance of the hills outside of Lake Elsinore. Dusty parking areas filled to the brim with long lines of cars waiting their turn at nature. Once you’ve parked and walked to the entrance, you’re greeted by a flagged off (literally in pink flagging) area for instagram shoots; complete with shirtless bros, pregnant women and awkwardly posing 20 year olds.
I was discouraged as I started my hike; mentally, I could hardly see past the crowds as I dredged up the hill and into the heat.

It never takes long though. Just 30 min up the path and the crowds seemed to melt away. Undisturbed, beautiful hills of green topped with blankets of orange and yellow and purple awaited.

It truly is beautiful once you get past all the people. Peaceful, colorful, nature.

There is a little four or five mile loop that connects both ends of the parking lot and zig zags its way up through the hills. I passed four people and a dog.

As artist, media creators, travelers and explorers, I encourage you to remember intention. Don’t forget why you were inspired in the first place. Come up for air more often than you think you need to. Check in with your motivations. Are they your own? Are they fueled by heart, or ❤️s? When we take a photo, are we motivated by our gratitude for something beautiful, our desire to share something we are inspired by? Or, are we motivated by our perception of what someone else might want to see from us? We have never been more exposed to feedback as artists as we are now; it can be diluting and confusing and demoralizing.

Photography is dangerous. It’s so easy to get lost behind the lens, searching for something to exploit. Hunting for instagram trophies to take home and hang above our fireplace - hearts of validation and comments and emojis awaiting the conquering hero.

I feel like you can easily fall into one of two groups when traveling, photographing, or experiencing the world. Those that are motivated by what they can take; take home stories to impress their friends. Take photos to prove or validate their sense of adventure. Take souvenirs so you have conversation starters at dinner. Essentially, trophy hunters always on the lookout for their next big game.

Then, there are those that find something they appreciate so much, they can’t help but want to share. They experienced something so wonderful they are bursting at the seems to have others experience their same feelings, even if it’s through a photo. They experience through gratitude. Grateful and amazed by the world they are in. They want to share the feeling they get when they experience something wonderful. They aren’t taking, they are sharing.

I see the irony that you “take photos” with a camera and “share stories” on instagram.

I think its just important to come up for air and ask ourselves once in a while, what is my intention? Why am I choosing to share this story? Approach what you want to share from a place of wonder and gratitude, not exploitation…

But those are just my thoughts; mostly fueled by all the people that were there to take something - not to share something.