March 21, 2018
In positive psychology, flow refers to the feeling of being totally in the zone. It’s when you are so deeply involved in an activity of enjoyment and creativity that you lose track of time. Our #BeintheFlow blog series explores how real and inspiring people overcome adversity to find their flow.
My name is Ray Collins and I’m an ocean photographer. I take photos of the many moods of the ocean. I hope to bring awareness to how fragile it is, and how much we need it on the planet. Hopefully, my work will give people a chance to think about it a little more carefully. It can seem so ferocious and look so intimidating, but at the end of the day,we are controlling it. We are overpowering it with our actions as people. I just want to document it in a way that I know it, so that I can show everyone else how beautiful it can be.
To be honest, the ocean is all I’ve ever really known. It was my first friend and it’s always been there through life’s ups and downs. I’ve always swam, surfed or bodysurfed. When I hurt my knee at my old job, it gave me a chance to do something creative, because I couldn’t do anything physical anymore. I had to adapt. Photography was always something I had an interest in. I bought a camera when I was injured and learned more and more about it. And here we are today. It just kind of grew organically, really.
I used to work in an underground coal mine, of all places. It’s a kilometre down in the earth and about 30 kilometres in. I fell in a hole and when I landed, my knee just made a sickening noise. It changed my life forever. But it was the biggest blessing in disguise. At the time, it was the worst thing that could have happened — but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened. It’s given me all these opportunities to travel around the world. I met my wife through photography. It’s been a life-altering event in the best possible way.
Photography is all about freezing a moment that wasn’t meant to be frozen. The moment was meant to happen, and come and go. But I have the ability — we all do — to document moments in time. And that’s my passion. Capturing those moments that have never occurred before and will never occur again. If you miss an opportunity, that’s it. That’s what drives me and that’s what I’m passionate about. Showing the many facets, faces and emotions of the ocean.
What I aim to do is use the only tool that I have — documentation. If that can help spread the visuals about how precious our ocean is, that’s part of my job. Getting out there for people to appreciate it is number one; and then, in turn, we shouldn’t be warming our earth and making it rise. First and foremost it’s to capture its beauty, and hopefully we still have that for our grandchildren and our grandchildren’s children. I hope it’s not a snapshot of what life used to be in 50 years time. I hope we drive towards a better future.
I feel most at peace when I’m alone, breathing and concentrating on my breath, feeling life fill up in my chest, brain and body. I feel it most when I’m floating in the ocean — it washes away the day’s cares, it washes away deadlines, timelines, emails and any negative news. It just levels you out, and brings you back to a clean slate that is pure energy from nature. I would say that’s when I feel most at peace — when I’m floating on an ominous, cloudy day. Maybe when there’s a storm. I just look around and absorb it all. That’s when I feel like I’m home.
My whole life has been about being in the flow, going with the flow. You can’t try and fight things. You have to process something and then adapt and then walk forward. You do that constantly — you make so many little decisions. And then you look back where you were “x” amount of years ago and you’re like, “wow.” As forks in the road came, I flowed with what felt right. I flowed to the next decision. I walked and the ground appeared under my feet. That’s how I’ve lived my life. And that’s how my work has grown organically — from an injured knee and a total lack of knowledge to where I am today. It’s always been about flow with me. I try to be flexible with everything. Going with the flow,, rather than making concrete plans about everything and being disheartened when things change out of my control. For me, it’s definitely all about flow. And definitely my subject matter is pure flow.
What I would like people to take away at the end of the day is just to be present. And that’s all I’m doing. Whether that’s just in my life or in my work, I’m just being in the moment.
For more inspiring blogs about people being in the flow, check out these amazing stories: