Photographer Megan Voigt and her brother Ryan were taught a love for the outdoors from a young age. Their dad taught them, as Megan puts it, “A love for the quiet hush of wind through the trees and ferns, the sure feeling of grasping rock underneath your hands as you scramble over a boulder, and the serenity of falling asleep in a tent under a hundred million stars.”
Ryan recalls, “We were always on the trail, or at the lake, and some of my fondest memories of my childhood are based in nature. Weekend camping trips, day hikes, or even a picnic lunch in the forest all helped shape my upbringing.” His father also taught him to fish, an activity that gave them quiet moments together and forged a strong bond. “While we don’t fish together nearly as much as we used to, with life being the way it is, that feeling I get being on a quiet river with a fly rod still resonates strongly.”
Despite growing up with the shared love of the outdoors and maintaining a close relationship, Megan and Ryan don’t get to spend much time together these days–especially not outside. Ryan explains, “We work opposite schedules, currently live in different cities and generally have different interests.”
Megan affirms, “Ryan and I both share a love for the immersing ourselves in nature that stemmed from our dad, although we’ve taken it and molded it to ourselves. For me, it is hiking in the alpine and conquering the challenge of distance, elevation, and my own mind. For him, it is fly fishing in a river or lake and understanding every aspect of the ecosystem, deciphering the signs into where and when he will cast his fly. But despite our shared fixation on the outdoors, we had never actually spent time together learning about the other’s passion."
On a recent weekend, they began changing that. They headed to a nearby river so Megan could learn what fly fishing means to her brother and photograph him in his element. She writes:
A quiet but swift river dyed turquoise by glacial meltwaters, wind gently rustling through the leaves, and a feeling that you were miles away from everyone else. It was familiar to me. I watched intently as he deftly cast his line with a look of concentration on his face. I asked questions about why he was using a certain fly, what made him choose that exact spot to cast it, how did he know that there were bull trout in the river. It felt like when we were young kids again - my older brother kindly explaining his fascination and me, the little sister, wide-eyed and eagerly absorbing everything he had to say.
We sat on the smooth river rocks and snacked on homemade bread and salami and cherries. We were able to talk effortlessly, catching up and learning the things about each other that we should’ve already known but never bothered to ask. I realized that although I’ve always had a close relationship with my brother, I hadn’t had a one-on-one talk with him in years. There’s something different about talking to your sibling without the noise of a restaurant, the typical family questions, or the chatter of strangers around you. The conversation feels more natural and genuine, like you’re getting to know them properly for the first time in a while instead of the usual small talk that happens at family dinners.
I realized that although I might not be picking up a fly fishing to go out on my own anytime soon, I would gladly tag along with Ry any time he went out just to have that quiet peaceful place to escape the city and enjoy the outdoors together.
Ryan adds, “The rare time we spend together in the outdoors is special for me. It may be a year or two in between times like these. When we were out on the river together, it didn’t feel that way. It felt familiar and comfortable, like we did this all the time. We have a knack of picking up where we left off and getting right back to being friends and siblings, despite what life has thrown at us recently, and this was no different. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t fishing, or that I kept losing fish, or that the weather was turning on us. It was the valuable few hours where Megan and I shared a quiet reconnection on a river that I’ll remember.”