I’m fascinated on both a personal and professional level with the principles of biophilia, the instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced this concept in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” The implications for our personal physical and mental well-being are profound.
We can use the principles of biophilia and improve our well-being by proactively seeking this connection with nature through things like introducing plants into our work and home environments, taking walks through parks, or encouraging the integration of nature into our everyday urban spaces with elements such as living walls.
This isn’t too hard to do when you live somewhere like San Diego. We can take advantage of beautiful weather and diverse natural surroundings 365 days a year. But there are many places where the weather isn’t so nice a lot of the time, or where access to nature is limited. And for any of us, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in a day!
If this is you, it turns out you can still get some of the benefits of exposure to nature just by looking at nature. A 2009 study for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being?” found that looking at photographs of nature can improve your health by decreasing stress, improving focus and attention, and even lowering the number of health-related complaints.
Beauty is defined as visual input that gives pleasure to the mind. Attention Restoration Theory says we can restore focus by taking time away from work tasks to enjoy nature, or even views of nature.
There are many beautiful nature photography books you can read which will fit this prescription nicely. I have a favorite to recommend to you. I admit I’m biased, because the author is someone I know: my father, Robert E. Mumford, Jr.
His book “The Exquisite Birds of Ecuador” features 322 of my dad’s images of Ecuador’s bird life and other nature images. The book was produced as the result of 16 trips to Ecuador. Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and there are over 1,600 bird species in this one small country, from hummingbirds to Andean condors. So even with 16 trips, my dad captured only a fraction of the region’s bird life. The book is filled with his very best work.
I could tell you it’s a stunning book but I don’t have to. I can let the rave reviews on Amazon do the talking:
“Words do not do justice in describing this stunning display of our Ecuadorian feathered friends in the book by Robert E. Mumford, Jr. … I was mesmerized from the first page… and when I turned the last, I had the feeling I had been to Ecuador myself, so vivid were the images and thorough the descriptions. I am proud to display this work of art which will invite all who see it to enjoy it as well.”
“Robert E. Mumford Jr.’s photos are exceptional. The book is divided into the six regions of Ecuador and also includes scenic photos and close ups of the flowers, animals and insects of each region. We keep this book displayed on our coffee table and every guest has commented on its beauty.”
“I really value artistic photography, and this book is a genuinely artistic achievement … The book serves as a wonderful addition to my coffee table, and guests marvel at the craftsmanship and artistry of the photography. And it has also made a great gift, as recipients always comment on its beauty. Really glad I found this book.”
“Bob has an amazing eye for fine photography and this new book brings out his best. Here, it is not a table book like so many photo books, but one you can pick up now and then and be amazed again how much beauty there is in nature. We have also found it captivates children of all ages once they see the first bird. It was also a big hit with my sister’s nature organizations. Buy one for yourself and one for your local nature group or school.”
“This is a treasure to own and to share.”
Even if he wasn’t my dad, I’d be just as enthusiastic as these reviewers recommending his book to you. Buy it on Amazon.com And while a book can never be a substitute 100 percent for the real thing, both my dad and I would be thrilled if it inspired you to take a hike and look for birds along a local San Diego trail, or plant bird friendly plants in your yard, or try a little nature photography yourself this summer.