Nature 365 is a unique program which broadcasts free moments of nature everyday;
an exclusive journal proposing 365 one-minute videos, from January 1 to December 31.
by Jim Brandenburg
I have been fortunate to have lived in some wonderfully natural and wild settings in my life. I have also been blessed with extensive travel to many of the earth’s most spectacular landscapes - places as different as the vast, frozen and silent emptiness of the North Pole to the hot, steamy and fully alive jungles of Africa and the tropics.
My cameras have always led me and are forever searching to capture the essence of where I am. The work that is produced is finally a language that has been subconsciously developed from decades of practice. I have been told there is a voice in that work, with an accent that I am not fully aware of – not unlike the verbal accents of languages that we all speak. These accents identify, place us and make impressions in the ears and minds of others. I think the same may be true of those that document their surroundings with pictures, by brush, or lens.
It is relatively easy these days to travel to an exotic new landscape and capture spectacular imagery. The fresh and unfamiliar scene before us is new and stimulating. We feel energized and fulfilled emotionally. Our creative side is pleased and proud as we believe we have captured something new and creative. Back at home we review our work and realize the captured scene looks different now than when we were there, we failed to capture the essence of what we felt. The work doesn’t match the experience. I can’t finally speak for others, but this is a common occurrence for me. Even with impressive support from magazines like National Geographic and a luxury of time spent in these exotic locations I often discovered the work didn’t say what I felt. My language failed me as if I were in France and tried to express my deeper inner thoughts and feelings to someone of importance to me with my non-native struggling American tongue. It becomes a disappointed and frustrated kind of experience on both accounts.
Then there is the work that has been produced on land that I have lived on - walked and slept upon for decades. It is different I have been told. Does it capture more of an essence than the work from those more arousing and exotic locales? Perhaps. I liken it somewhat to having an attractive stranger flirt and momentarily turn our heads. Upon reflection we come back to our senses and return “home”. Our eyes sometimes bypass the inner soul on the way to the mind… a shortcut.
When one photographs the land we know there may be nuance that is subconsciously imbedded in the work. A form of spirit that comes from affection and intimate long-term accumulated knowledge of the subject. I have often sensed my photographs are like visual prayer offerings – not unlike Tibetan prayer flags that are offered to the wind. Native Americans place small prayer bundles and small pieces of cloth in the trees in places that have significance for them. I feel a deeper sense of visual expression in places in which I am emotionally closer. Perhaps I feel more of a responsibility to the subject of my cameras intrusive gaze, like making a portrait of a loved one rather than a stranger.
Nature 365 has been an important expression of this which I write about here. I have filmed “prayed” nearly every day in places I have lived and known for many years. The experience is often fleeting and instinctive. Cameras are always at the ready. Like an ice age hunter I feel driven and obligated somehow to provide – to who and what I am not sure. Then, I often do not go back and review the work. I simple file it away and it accumulates like a diary. The hard drives stack up. It is the experience of interacting with the subject, whether plant or animal in the landscape before me that is the driving force. From the subtle and tame treeless prairie of my youth to the darker and more elusive wolf wilderness in the boreal forest I collected countless moments over the years.
One day several years ago I casually mentioned my private “diary” to my friend and colleague Laurent Joffrion. He took a deep and thoughtful look and discovered something I did not see. He liked the “accent” in that visual language and proceeded to edit some moments together which eventually became the Nature 365 series. Subsequently the series has become something I cherish. He became the gifted translator of my visual wanderings and contemplations, prayers if you will.
Now Laurent is expanding his concept of the series and including others with similar experiences of filming in their “back yards” - places that are known and loved by impassioned speakers of their own visual language. I am indeed looking forward to Laurent’s equally inspired translations of the other’s voices in the coming new year. Please join us with this new expanded Nature 365.
« Open humble windows onto the natural world »
by Laurent Joffrion
About ten years ago, during a professional assignment, I had the chance to meet wildlife photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg. I am happy to say that we got along well and one day, Jim came to me with a mysterious gift. He gave me some hard drives filled with video clips that no one had ever seen, and said: « I don't know what we can do with this, but perhaps we could work together? » It felt like an honor!
So I spent hours reviewing all of these videos and found this amazing body of work documenting what Jim calls « his backyards », the northwoods of Northern Minnesota, where he lives, and the prairie southwards, where he was born. These videos are remarkable as they come from a long-term commitment, as they reflect an authentic and poetic vision and as they show the diversity of great natural systems when their wilderness is preserved. Not only do they show wolves or northern lights, but also less iconic creatures or much simpler moments. The sun rising, a chickadee waking up, grasses dancing in the wind…
Thinking about Jim's previous successes, such as his published photography collections Chased By The Light or 93 Days of Spring - which are built on the principle of one picture a day - I then thought: why don't we present one daily video sequence for the whole next year ? It meant a lot of work but we took up the challenge, following our common and simple wish to share this footage with people.
The original series has been broadcast for five years and our viewers’ feedback has surpassed every possible expectation. We received thousands of messages from users worldwide acknowledging the purpose of the project; hundreds of glowing comments from an ever growing audience: people who count on our daily videos, teachers starting their class with them, hospitalized patients offering themselves a moment of respite… All these messages compel us to continue on this artistic journey.
So from January 1, 2021, a new program will be broadcast. Jim Brandenburg will of course be part of it - perhaps more than ever, as a mentor too - but we also aim at opening the program to other contributors. Filmmakers and sound recordists worldwide have been invited to submit their footage so that we can sometimes open windows onto the natural world elsewhere without any notion of borders. Our only request is that the new contributors follow the philosophy behind Nature 365; that they film or record in their « backyard », as Jim did, thus favoring authenticity.
The promise for our audience will remain the same. In the background of every video, there will be the sincere intention to express the basic yet most intriguing beauty of our natural heritage. Through every moment, we will try to show nature as simple as it is, just there, right before our eyes as soon as one dares to watch. Not only the most spectacular animal or the wildest flower, but also the most common. We will always try to make the ordinary looks extraordinary.
Subscribe to our newsletter if you feel like receiving a daily feed by e-mail.