We have to go to be – finding a deeper connection to place and the journey to being.

I saw the Ansel Adams: Masterworks photography exhibit at MOHAI in mid-June (while taking a sabbatical from social media) last year, and I’ve been on fire about it ever since.


It was supposed to be a date night.

I was gonna dress up. We were gonna go to dinner. And then we were gonna attend a special evening presentation after viewing the exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union.

At least, that’s what I imagined when my husband texted me to block off my calendar for Wednesday night date night.

On Tuesday, however, we discovered that the tickets to the evening presentation my husband had purchased were actually for an online event.

And MOHAI closes at 5 pm on Wednesdays.

We had a good laugh about our date-turned-webinar situation before deciding to turn it into a lunchtime adventure instead.

So on Wednesday, we visited MOHAI around Noon, and found our way to the exhibit.


Only a few feet into the gallery, I was holding back tears.

I’ve known Ansel Adams’ work my entire career as a photographer, but until that day, I never let myself get lost in it.

The tears I choked back were there because of a line I read in the introduction to the exhibit. I can’t remember the exact words, but the idea was that the reason why Adams’ work has resonated with so many people over the years is because whether or not we are aware of it, place matters.

Those two words – “place matters” – hit me hard.

I thought of all the places I’d been in my life. How they hold memories of loved ones long gone. Of times long gone. Places and moments I’ll never see again outside of my dreams and photographs. Places I’ve yet to experience. Places forever tied to moments that shaped me into myself.

Yes, place matters. It matters so very much. But even more, it matters that we experience it.

As I walked from photograph to photograph, I thought about what it took for Adams to create each piece. Not just the technical know-how, or the equipment he used. But the heart and the vision.

He didn’t simply want to photograph a place as it looked – he wanted to photograph how it felt. And how it made him feel.

That is everything I hope for in my work – to create art from, with, and for feeling.


I don’t know how I made it through that entire exhibit without bawling my eyes out, but by the end of it, I was wanting more.

Not just more of his work, but more of his story. And I wanted to know what my husband thought – how he felt after experiencing the exhibit.

We walked around the gallery a second time, pointing out our favorite pieces, and sharing how they made us feel.

One piece in particular – probably one of Adams’ most famous works – “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941,” was a favorite for both of us. Not necessarily because of the scene it depicted, but for the story of how it was created.

Adams was driving when he saw the moon rising over the scene, and he had only a few moments to make the image before the light changed. It may have been luck that put him in the right place at the right time, but it was his experience and wisdom that made it possible for him to capture the scene in that moment.

Experience and wisdom that only comes from doing. From going out again and again and doing.


This is what we’re missing when we’re stuck in our phones – the process of becoming.

When we’re only looking for the highlights or the easiest answers, we miss the story and the work and the journey. This exhibit wasn’t a highlight reel to me. It was a doorway into understanding what matters – going to places that make us feel more deeply. Going there and being there. Going again and being again. Showing up. Not just watching and waiting to be shown. Having faith in the process, and being okay with not having all of the answers right away – or ever.

After this day at the Ansel Adams: Masterworks exhibit, I knew I wouldn’t return to social media in the same way as I had been present before my sabbatical. There was no “place” there for me.


I wouldn’t be returning to my work (or life) in the same way either.


I had to go out and experience the process and the journey for myself in order to create from, with, and for more feeling.


I had to go to be.


This journey manifested itself in a lot of ways since last June. Most notably, it helped me be present with people I love in beautiful, imperfect moments. And it helped me approach my art with deeper connection than ever before. It guided me in letting go of all of the things I no longer needed.


And it brought me back to what I’m here for – to live, to love, and to create art that moves your soul.



Be well and wild, my friends.


All my love,



p.s. After the exhibit, I found this documentary about Ansel Adams, and I highly recommend it. It covers a lot of the things that were shared in the online presentation (our date night webinar) given by Ansel’s son, Michael, that night.


This post is part of “The fire” blog series.

Welcome to the fire. Where we step outside of the walls built around us to discover something more beautiful and more alive together.



Marika Moffitt is an artist and storyteller focused on expressing the spirit of dogs through photography. As the owner of SoulDog Creative in Seattle, Washington, Marika helps clients throughout the Pacific Northwest to honor their journeys with their Soul Dogs with one-of-a-kind artwork. Full of life and movement, Marika’s photographs touch deep within the heart of what it means to live the journey with the dogs we love.


To commission artwork of your dog, cat, or horse, book a consultation with Marika to begin your journey.


One Response

  1. What a wonderful writeup, Marika. I feel a connection to places deeply. The way it came to be, the stories it holds, the magic it presents… and I understand very well why traditional oral cultures “read” the land as we read books, and describe certain places as sacred.

    That’s why I always tell people to go beyond, go further, experience the land with their own feet instead of just getting out of the car and getting the Instagram shot. That’s how you tune into the magic instead of just taking a shallow picture.

    Thanks for the blog post inspiration :-)

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