What a treat we have in store for you this month! We are picking the brains of the lovely Katherine Heath of Wild Grey Skies for her thoughts on all things sustainable and natural. Katherine is a social media manager and content creator* at (hug) London, who not only takes gorgeous pictures, but also has lots of wisdom to share about ways we can be more ethical in our consumption, and how to attain more balance in our lives.
Welcome, Katherine Heath!
1. Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I can never quite find a ‘job title’ that encompasses all I do but the closest I’ve got is ‘social media manager and content creator’*. I have been fascinated by photography since I got my first point and shoot when I was about 14. After working in the commercial photography industry for a few years I realised I also loved the way creative imagery can be used in marketing. I went on to discover the benefits of social media when it comes to telling a company’s story, and found that that is where my interests really lie.
In my ‘spare’ time I am an advocate for all things natural, wild, ethical and sustainable. I aim to highlight the importance of reconnecting with nature through my photography, and my Instagram account of course. I have also just started blogging. My blog Wild Grey Skies focuses on finding balance between our natural and digital worlds. The more ‘connected’ we become the more disconnected we feel from ourselves and from nature. Being someone who works in digital and spends a lot of time behind a computer I felt it was important for me to find ways of connecting with the benefits of the wild outdoors as much as possible and to help others do the same.
2.If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Appreciate what you have. When I was younger, especially at school when new trends appeared every few months, it was easy to get sucked into the idea that your friends always had something better than you. Once you realise that what makes someone else happy will not necessarily make you happy the release in pressure is a huge relief. If we’re constantly chasing after more, when will we be truly happy with our lives and what we already have? One of my favourite quotes is “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, by William Morris.
3.What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
There’s less to worry about! Having less and living simply means fewer problems, less things that can break, less time spent fixing/replacing them and more time to spend outdoors enjoying all that nature has to offer, as well as more time to spend with loved ones. Finding joy in the simple things makes for a happy and content life by eliminating the unnecessary stress that comes from always wanting more.
4.How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
Content creation and sharing, especially for me as a social media manager, has become a huge part of everyday life these days, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its pitfalls. I admit I am terrible at leaving my technology behind in fear of missing the perfect shot, but when I can tear myself away it really is the best feeling. Knowing that I can’t mess around taking a photograph, or upload a quick addition to that day’s stories, even if I wanted to, means I can focus on enjoying the moment I’m in with the people I’m with.
Deciding when and when not to leave your camera behind is a hard decision to make but starting small often helps. Leave your phone in your bag when you’re having dinner with someone, or if you’re at a concert maybe take 1 or 2 snaps to remember the day but then put your phone away and enjoy your evening. I will never understand why people feel the need to video entire performances on their phones – it will never be the same when you watch it back through a phone screen with the audience screaming in the background and the occasional arm blocking your entire view.
It’s all about balance.
5.Who inspires you?
I must admit I get most of my creative inspiration from Instagram. There are so many talented photographers/artists out there using the platform in a million and one different ways – there’s a never-ending stream of inspiring work I could spend all day looking at. I enjoy browsing the feeds of artists who are very different to me in hope of finding new ways of expressing what I am trying to say and new ways of looking at the world around me.
For slow living inspiration, there are a lot of companies and individuals out there doing great things for the planet, like Patagonia and its founder Yvon Chouinard who inspires me to buy less but buy better and appreciate the effect each purchase we make has on the planet.
Then there are the people around me. My family, who support and guide me when I feel I’ve lost my direction and my partner who is always there to talk through new ideas with (and is fortunately very willing to help with various photography projects).
6.What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
The coffee grinder. We grind our coffee by hand every morning and it’s become one of our simple-living rituals. We’ve been told countless times that ‘they do make electronic ones’ but there’s something rewarding and calming about doing it by hand. The grinder is also beautifully made and looks much nicer in the kitchen than an unnecessary, electronic machine.
I would also struggle without my wool blanket and house plants. I could quite easily while away a weekend wrapped up with a book in my natural wool blanket, surrounded by plants and drinking freshly ground coffee.
7.What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
My plans and aspirations change so much and so fast that I’ve given up trying to even predict or plan where I’ll be in the next year! I think there will be a huge gap between what I think I would like to be doing and what I will end up doing, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I would like to still be writing Wild Grey Skies and using my photography to encourage more people to take on a nature-led lifestyle. Hopefully I’ll also be spending even more time outside myself as well.
8.What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Well, it wouldn’t count as wild to the men and women who do it day in day out, but for me working as part of a mustering contracting team was probably one of my wilder moments. A friend and I went into the depths of outback Australia, we lived in a tent, showered outside, spent our days rounding up cattle on horseback and motor bikes and spent our days off at rodeos. Waking up to dusty, silent sunrises, working outside until I had no energy left in me and cooking dinner in the low evening light whilst enjoying an ice-cold beer – a way of life that couldn’t be further from what I do now but a time I will cherish forever.
Thank you so much for your time, and sharing your thoughts with us!
Find more A Simple Path interviews here.