Photos taken by Jan Austin Smith, a 27-year-old man living in Northern California. His mother, a Psychiatrist, has depression, and his closest aunt is bipolar, so he has been around people with mental health issues his whole life, and has a tremendous amount of compassion for them. He thinks that mental issues are so maligned in the dominant culture, it is tragically sad. Jan has also suffered from depression and anxiety himself, which has been hugely exacerbated by disabling chronic nerve pain in his knees, and 5 knee surgeries. On his website, TheRewildWest, he writes about human, Earth, and animal liberation, as well as displays his beloved nature photography. He’s also a novelist, and editor/book reviewer for the Green Theory and Praxis Journal.
About the photos: “These photographs were shot at Mono Lake in northeastern California. This is one of my favorite places in the world, a magical place. In fact, it is–in terms of sheer biomass of life–the most biologically rich lake in the world. Its waters are filled with salt and carbonates and sulfates from surrounding volcanic activity, and this creates a water density that allows you to float without even trying. Being in nature soothes my tormented psyche, helps me escape from the mental and physical trauma of living in an increasingly industrialized, unnatural, polluted, breakneck-speed society. Floating in Mono Lake connected me to that special place even more. And it just plain felt great!”