Simona D'Auria

2023 A new blank page… How to fill it?

2023, a new year is here. How to get rid of bad thoughts, fears, and a panic attack in the beautiful scenario of a winter forest
Inside a snowy Swedish forest
A white tale

Hello everyone! I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas holiday and that the 2023 has started on the right foot for you! 🤞✨

Alas, I spent my Christmas break in the company of influenza 🥴 that Patrick has brought home after having flown abroad … It was a long time since I came ill with a flu – one of the benefits of living remote – and I was really surprised by how nasty today’s virus are and how long it might take to recover from them!

As a consequence, once again, my long-awaited journey to the mountains of the great North went up in smoke, along with my other planned hiking tours … There was nothing I could really do about it and it lasted more than 10 days.

Eventually, I recovered 🥳 Just a couple of days ago, well into the new year. And of course, the first thing I did was to put my boots on and to head to the forest near home! Couldn’t still afford a proper hiking adventure elsewhere anyway and I really needed to walk a little, pay a visit to the woods and be again among the trees. I took the camera with me without thinking too much about it. I wasn’t really expecting to take any pictures, but evidently it had to be with me for some reason.

It was a beautiful morning blessed with a magical winter sunlight. We have seen the sun so rarely in December, but there it was, shining timidly among the trees weighed down by the snow. It warmed my heart to a great deal. I felt welcomed, almost like the forest wanted to show me that she was happy to see me back again. I spent so many hours with her, I paid a visit almost every day, in good and bad times, whatever the weather conditions. I guess she will have noticed my absence!

A warm sunrise filters through the cold snowy forest
Winter morning sunlight

I sat on a snowy rock and enjoyed the sunlight and the feeling of being there again, among its silence and its sounds, the birds songs, the deer calls, the winds among the trees … I cannot explain how much I missed all that physically and mentally!

I pulled out of my bag some gifts that I brought for the creatures of the forest and left them under a tree … a little bit of honey, some butter, a few nuts, an apple …. I have learnt to do it every now and then, it’s a kind of a gesture of gratitude to the animals and the spirits of the woods, for letting me in and enjoy their magical world.

Then I realized … That was my first day of the new year outside! A new year … A new blank page! It was the first time I actually really thought about it, on new year’s eve I was burning up with fever and during the first days of January too. So, I didn’t really paid too much attention to the event. Also, I stopped doing new years propositions long ago, having learnt that it’is just a matter of time before I forget them. But still, I can’t say that I am totally unaffected by the idea of a new year that begins, nor by the expectations that it brings inevitably and the commitments that you feel you have to undertake to start off better than you have finished. Of course, this last point implies that you have assessed your past year … How did you go?

It might kind of making you nervous … the evaluation process I mean … That’s why in a way, the fact that I had to delay all the new year thing has saved me from some stressful thinking … until that morning at least!

I was sitting in the same spot that usually takes my mind away from all thoughts, my happy place. But that morning something was wrong, I was feeling somewhat nervous and restless …

My mind had started making a list of all the things that I should have done during the Christmas break and I didn’t. Didn’t make any progress on my other project, missed to go on location scouting, did not write anything here, did not post anything at all on the social media, didn’t create anything beautiful … 🥴

I started looking at the last pictures I had taken the last days of the year … Where was I going artistically?

And where I want to go in 2023?

I couldn’t help but notice something different in my last two shots. Am I still (only) a landscape photographer or am I kind of leaning on the fantasy side?

Shall I continue this way? What do I feel inside, what’s inspires me, what’s the message I want to send out there, do I still want to send a message? Do I want to express myself or simply impress the others, should I be totally true to myself, disregard the commercial side of my photography activity and just go for an artistic expression that would reach a niche of people? Will I then be able to support myself? If not, will I still be able to carry on with multiple projects, as a photographer and an illustrator/graphic designer?

All these questions and possible answers where spinning in my head relentlessly until I started feeling really dizzy … I had to stop that overwhelming bad feeling, had to look for something I could cling on to, a way to ground myself.

The only thing I could think about was breathing, so I started doing it, really doing it, focusing on it, paying attention to the moment the air was entering and exiting my body … Yes, I was already feeling a little better …. “Keep on going, keep on going!” I said to myself.

I tried then to remember what makes me feel in peace. “Nature, of course, nature! This place I am in now, this forest, the trees, the animals, the smell, the sounds, the energy, the love in the air! Relax, let it all go, just be, here, now …”

It worked, eventually. I opened my eyes. It was gone … all that madness, all that unhelpful, confused and panicking thinking, all those extremely stressful feelings, finally gone!

I was grounded again. I was in peace.

I knew that the only thing I had to do in the new year was just keep on going, keep on doing what I love to do, being in nature, follow its rhythm, its seasons, walk, discover, observe, experience the countless, mysterious feelings it was able to awake in me, trying to interpret them with my camera, with my drawings, with any means I felt applicable. I just had to continue working, day by day, with love and passion, like nothing was expected of me, like nothing was really important. I would only need to listen to my art. The rest would come and anything else be adjusted if possible.

After a couple of crazy hours I found myself standing and ready to go. There was another forest on the other side of the hill, a different one. I have been there other times and never been too happy with the pictures I took. Let’s reach that other forest, let’s take some photos, let’s see how it goes!

And here they are …. Just a couple, but these are my first pictures of this year …. Will they mark they way I will take pictures in the following months? Have they started a new style?

I don’t know and I don’t care too much about it.

All I care about is that I finally made it to focus again, be in the moment, connect with the forest and my camera, feel free to experience new settings, to make mistakes!

Finally back to fulfill my purpose, showing the beauty, the peculiarities, the character of this forest, the feelings that it awoke in me.

Every forest conveys a different feeling. Not sure what it depends on exactly, but this feeling is then reflected in the pictures you take.

All the pictures I’ve taken of this forest over time have always ended up being hard as steel, extremely textured no matter how much I’ve tried to soften them and colder than ice. In fact, I think the snow is the warmest element in them.

These features are still present in these last pictures, and I don’t know if it’s because they are objectively inherent to this forest or because this is how I live it and will probably always do. What’s different today is that I like the way I’ve portrayed it. I called it “The armored forest”.

I hope you like it too.

Simona D'Auria

Back to the new year thing…. I wish you good luck, wherever you’ll be, whatever you’ll do. I hope you can fill this new page with meaningful experiences, however it goes.

Thank you again for reading my friends, and thanks for the interest and the support you show in my work. It means the world to me 🤍🌹🤍

Till next time, take good good care of you.

Love, Simona 🦌🌲🦌


Simona D'Auria

Hi! My name is Simona and I am a photographer and an illustrator in love with the natural world.

I live in Sweden in a small village on the forest hills, where I moved a few years ago leaving behind the busy city of London to pursue my artistic activity. ​This has been a long time dream that I eventually managed to fulfil. I have never regretted it!​​

Nature is my only place to be, hiking my way to explore it and photography is one of the means I use to record the fantastic stories I am so lucky to witness during my excursions. Many of these stories also turn into graphics or illustrations.