Explore the Elements is a photo contest that invites bloggers and photographers alike to share images that they’ve captured along their travels. Fittingly, there are four categories: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The challenge? Submit four photos that capture the essence of each individual element. You can find the official rules of the competition here.

My photos showcase my exploration of each of these elements throughout the world. Here’s what I’ve found.


My passion for travel began a few days before this photo was taken, when (on a whim) I took my bag back from the attendant at Warsaw Chopin Airport and decided to quit my job to hitchhike across Europe with a boy I’d just met. A few days later, I met his family here, in Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.



After spending a year in Asia, I was eager to return to Europe after a 14-month hiatus- I even chose to head there before making the long journey home to Detroit. I decided to treat myself to a little trip after another year of teaching English. I’d always wanted to go to Ireland, and there is never a time better than the present. One of the stops we made on our Irish road trip was at the scenic Cliffs of Moher. With a 700-foot drop to the raging sea, it was certainly my most nail-biting and palm sweat-producing interaction with air thus far.



Water has affected the majority of my travels, from cursing thunderstorms whilst hitchhiking to begging the clouds to open from my hands and knees when cycling through mountains in 90+ degree heat. My most influential and memorable interaction with water, however, lasted for 16 days, when a few friends and I built a raft from recycled materials and cruised the Danube River. Sure, we ended up getting in an itsy bit of trouble at the end, but isn’t that how most great stories end?



Fire is perhaps the most mesmerizing of elements. It simultaneously provides light and warmth while being capable of absolute destruction. On Jeju Island in South Korea, my home for over a year, the residents intentionally burn a hill (called an ‘oreum’) each year to signify the end of winter and the beckoning of spring. The fully-burned hill signifies the coming of a fruitful harvest, much like a majestic phoenix rising from the ashes.



I nominate the following people (in no particular order) to come out and participate in this competition:

Dale and Franca at AngloItalianFollowUs

Lily from AwayWithLily

Kelly from BluEyedView

Tom from WaegookTom

Meghan from Life Outside of Texas