Contemplative Nature Photographer & Writer

I am endlessly amazed by the splendor of common, ordinary things and believe that if we look closely enough from the right angle, we can always find something to appreciate about a place or living thing – and perhaps gain insight into our own nature, as well. Through contemplative photography, I connect with the essence that shines through the forms of the living world and invite the deep, spiritual beauty of nature to awaken, inspire, and transform me.

When I am in nature, certain images stop me in my tracks, and at the time I don’t know why I am so drawn to them but sense they are part of a greater story, language, pattern, or blueprint that connects us all and needs to be shared. Such images have the ability to touch us deeply, open our hearts, and awaken or strengthen something integral within us. It is my greatest joy to capture an image in a way that expresses the transcendent quality I connect with in it – and then to share it so it may resonate with others, as well.

When an image seizes me like that, I meditate on it and contemplate how it speaks to me. Sometimes I’m able to understand and communicate it in words and will pair the images with written narratives on my website, River-Bliss.com. My joyful mission is to share my contemplative vision and insights through words and pictures that reveal beauty, connections, and universal patterns and rhythms. I strive to facilitate self (inner) discovery, gratitude, equanimity, quietude, and a sense of interconnectedness and unity in a world that seems increasingly fragmented and distracting.

My work combines my passion for photography and writing with my deep interest in the nature of mind and perception and my love of the natural world. It draws on my richly humanistic, multi-passionate background in: psychology, world religions, meditation, transpersonal psychology, music, art, parenting, hospice work, and early childhood education.

It Began with Flowers

Right before learning I was pregnant with my first child, I had a dream in which I could hear the rhythm of life expressed by a field of flowers and experienced myself as part of that universal rhythm. It was the most powerful and memorable dream of my life. Seventeen years later, while walking a labyrinth surrounded by flowers, I was transfixed by an orange cosmos that commanded my attention. I had never given much thought or attention to flowers until I connected with that orange cosmos – and doing so opened my heart to the beauty and energy of flowers and was the first step of my digital photography journey. That single flower changed my life and reminded me of the dream I had so many years prior. As a result, I understand the power of nature to awaken, heal, and inspire.

After the flower epiphany, I turned to photography as a means of cultivating gratitude amidst the full catastrophe of life (to borrow a phrase from Jon Kabat-Zinn). Contemplative nature photography began as my medicine and soon became my passion. Now it is both my spiritual practice and my vocation.

 Why “River Bliss”?

“Inside the river there is an unfinishable story and you are somewhere in it.”  -Mary Oliver

A large body of my work spotlights the Upper Hudson River, where I have lived for the past eight years. “River bliss” is my name for the state of consciousness I experience while floating on the river in my kayak. It is my medicine for inner peace, clarity, and creativity. I adopted the name, River Bliss Photography, to honor both the location and the state of mind. However, it also represents much more.

A river is one of the ultimate metaphors for life. Even as I explore and photograph other rivers and places, my understanding of the river metaphor deepens, and it continues to speak to me. For a few years, I witnessed a massive PCB dredging project on the Hudson River and noticed exquisite, white water lilies floating gracefully on the surface despite it all. Living on the river has enriched my understanding of how the river is connected with everything else. With the river as my muse, I have been inspired to cultivate gratitude despite the various hardships and challenges that are part of life. I have come to know gratitude (often expressed through my photography) as the gateway to bliss. So “river bliss” is about my determination to experience joy despite it all, and to have the courage to follow where bliss flows and calls me onward.

  • Hello Susan,Your photos are beautiful! We are interested in using one of your photos of a heron on our website. Please contact us about how we would proceed in getting permission to do so.Thank you for your consideration.Best to you!