Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Reflections of a Big Sur Nature Photographer

As a third-generation Big Sur native and an Esalen staff member, Kyle Evans sees creativity as a natural part of life. “It’s no coincidence there’s a high concentration of artists in Big Sur,” says Kyle. “Here, art is more than any one ‘thing;’ it’s a way of living and a way of being.”

For Kyle, a professional photographer, taking pictures also connects him more deeply with the awe-inspiring landscapes and wild creatures of Big Sur. “Sometimes photography is just a byproduct of being out in nature, slowing down and observing what’s going on around me,” Kyle shares. “In my photos, I try to show a different perspective, often by getting really close to things and illuminating the details you might otherwise pass right by.”

So sit back, relax and take a trip to the outer and inner reaches of Big Sur through Kyle’s eyes.

“One of the reasons photography appeals to me is the combination of camera technology and artistic expression. What I see in nature a lot are mirroring structures. From far away, the forest looks a certain way, and then if you get very close up, using a macro lens, it looks the same.”

“Whenever I work late at Esalen, I get to photograph the frogs at the pond in the garden. Photographing animals is a practice in patience, a meditative practice. With the frogs, as soon as the sun sets, they come out and start chirping. This often draws people, but as soon as they get close to the pond the frogs go silent. Usually people don’t wait long enough for them to start again. I just wait there. I illuminate the pond with a light and then just wait. After a while the frogs get used to it and come back out so I can photograph them. It’s great to feel connected to the world around me that way.”

The vast majority of photographs I’ve taken are either near my house or near Highway 1. I think there’s a big misconception about wildlife photography that you need to be in a remote place. It’s not about where you are, but about observing, slowing down and really paying attention. And luck favors the prepared! I don’t go anywhere without my camera.”

“I was at Willow Creek in Big Sur with my family, and this pelican was just sitting on the beach. There was perfect lighting – soft, warm sunset light – that really brought out the textures of the bird’s feathers, and its incredible blue eyes. One of my favorite things is taking something relatively ordinary – people see pelicans all the time in California – and presenting it in an extraordinary way.”

Kyle’s photography is on display in the Esalen Lodge until early May.

Check out more of Kyle’s work:
Instagram: @bigsurphoto

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Esalen Team