Close this search box.

Looking to Summer

Reflecting on Spring before Summer:

April 14th, 2024

When Spring begins everything wakes up around us. Suddenly, colors pop, and scents fill the air, prompting us to take a moment and soak it all in.

This change often makes us notice things we might have overlooked before. Have you found yourself appreciating sunsets more or stopping to enjoy the smell of flowers? Have you seen how people pause just to snap a quick picture of a beautiful view?

It’s those little moments, when we’re not rushing from one place to another, that we can really connect with what’s happening around us. 

Photos I took a year ago of the beginning of Spring during my daily commute:

Why do we wait for seasons to change to appreciate our surroundings? Do we only pay attention when things look dramatically different? Do we only stop to savor nature and our environment when nature is alive, and the weather is good? What even captures our sense of awe?

In her exploration of awe, Summer Allen, Ph.D., discusses how witnessing grandeur or beauty can profoundly reshape our understanding of the world. Awe extends beyond merely observing something vast; it challenges our mental frameworks, compelling us to perceive life anew. This profound emotional response not only diminishes our self-focus but also enhances our connection to others, often fostering kindness and generosity. As spring ushers in a season of renewal and growth, embracing these moments of awe can transform us, beautifully altering how we engage with the world and each other.

A few weeks back, I was out exploring abandoned graffiti ruins with friends and taking photos. While I was captivated by the moment, my appreciation for beauty expanded beyond what I could see. After wandering through the ruins, I reached a river basin shrouded in bright sunlight.

I found myself looking out for a few minutes taking everything in. 

With my camera, I took a shot of the water. However, looking at the photos later, I felt they didn’t fully capture what I saw. Instead of mimicking reality, I decided to experiment with capturing light in various ways.

My Photos:

This experience taught me that true wonder often lies beneath the surface of what seems beautiful at first glance. It illustrated how photography, much like the awe described by Summer Allen, challenges our mental frameworks and compels us to perceive life from new perspectives. It’s about delving deeper and discovering hidden layers not immediately visible. Photography allows us to explore and capture these depths in real time, providing a tangible way to experience and reflect on these transformative moments.

David P. Fessell and Karen Reivich emphasize the importance of creating moments that foster awe in our everyday lives, as detailed in their discussions on the “awe walk.” This simple, intentional act of observing and appreciating the world around us is crucial for maintaining a sense of wonder and enhancing our well-being. 

Reflecting on my own experience capturing the river basin, where the photographs could not fully encapsulate the awe felt, it’s clear that actively seeking such moments can profoundly enrich our lives. Engaging in these practices not only revitalizes our perception but also connects us deeply with our environment, underscoring the need to protect and cultivate our sense of wonder continually.

While awe walks are undoubtedly useful for our well-being, I found that the experience of having an awe-photoshoot enriched my overall experience and gave me a new passion of creating visual abstractions in nature.

If photography excites you more than the idea of going on an awe walk, you might want to call it an awe-photoshoot!

As Spring (and now summer) brings new life, let’s try to keep this awareness going beyond just the seasonal shifts. Let’s look for beauty and wonder in everyday moments not always visible to the eye, because the world is always offering us something special—we just have to use our imagination.

Roger Irwin

Roger Irwin is passionate about understanding the intersection of the arts and human development. He is researching how media intake and creativity based interventions can help people explore their strengths. He is a candidate for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania.

3 thoughts on “Looking to Summer”

  1. Avatar

    Beautiful article! I am in awe of your insights. Your message is important and one that can make a positive impact in our lives. Thank you, Roger!

  2. anushka

    Great perspective, Roger. you opened my eyes to a different way of seeing and doing. “instead of mimicking reality, I decided to experiment with capturing light in various ways.”- i love this line because i have experienced the disappointment of not being able to capture the awe that i’ve seen. Thanks for writing and for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


On The Need for Intentional Solitude


Life after Loss


Looking to Summer

Scroll to Top