Just over a year ago an event happened that forever changed my life. An event that planted a seed. I decided to put my commercial photography career on hold to take on a massive personal project. That project is called Searching For Sero

Not long after the seed was planted for Searching For Sero, the ultimate adventure-mobile was purchased. A 1991 VW Westfalia Camper. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Not long after the seed was planted for Searching For Sero, the ultimate adventure-mobile was purchased. A 1991 VW Westfalia Camper. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

First off, let’s clear up what Sero is. Some of you chemistry nerds may have already figured it out. It is short for serotonin, the neurotransmitter commonly believed to contribute to the feelings of happiness in humans. Many anti-depressant medications attempt to mimic or boost serotonin levels.

Some events happen in your life that make you sit down and re-evaluate. Always pursue what you want. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Some events happen in your life that make you sit down and re-evaluate. Always pursue what you want. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

My partner, Tracy Guenard, my dog, Rain, and I are hitting the road for 2 years of amazing stories, adventures and photographs from all around North America, living out of our ’91 VW Westfalia. Each week (starting mid May, 2016) we will be publishing photo stories on our website of those who use outdoor adventure to bring happiness and well-being to their lives. We will be documenting their Sero search. Here on the Joby Blog, you will be able to follow along and get an in-depth and behind the scenes look into the photographic side of things. After all you are probably here because you have an interest in photography, and I am writing here because I do too.

Tracy, Rain (dog), and John take a moment to celebrate the purchase of their new Westfalia and big start to a new journey. Photo: John Rathwell/Searching For Sero

Tracy, Rain (dog), and John take a moment to celebrate the purchase of their new Westfalia and big start to a new journey. Photo: John Rathwell

My passion for photography started in 2008 on the banks of the Slave River, Northwest Territories when a friend, pro kayaker Leif Anderson, put a DSLR in my hands for the first time. Not long after leaving the Slave River, I found myself searching local classified for used cameras and picked up a Canon 50D. From that moment, photography took over my life. I spent every moment researching, reading and watching online tutorials to help boost my skills. Not long after, my images started to appear in different kayaking magazines and some outdoor company catalogs. Photography soon became my “career” before I really knew it. If you want to know more about that, or check out my portfolio, you can find it at www.johnrathwell.com.

After hiking to the top of Camp Fortune, John unpacks his camera bag to prepare for the shoot. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

After hiking to the top of Camp Fortune, I unpack my camera bag to prepare for the shoot. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

In the past couple of years I have focused heavily on my career, working for clients such as Red Bull, Outside Magazine as well as several tourism and marketing agencies. Now that is all being put on hold for Searching For Sero.

Dane Jackson at Michoacan Kayak Expedition, in Tlapacoyan, VE, MEX,

Dane Jackson during the Michoacan Kayak Expedition, in Tlapacoyan, VE, MEX. Image captured by John Rathwell while on assignment for Red Bull.

As photographers, we are all artists. Art with a purpose has always fascinated me the most, whether it is a political folk song or Sarah Hatton’s Bee Works. I never felt like my art, my photography, had much of a purpose except to provide. Until now.

Going where no one else is, is the best. We skinned up a hill and took some ski shots one evening with the Lowepro Whistle 350.

Going where no one else is, is the best. We skinned up a hill and took some ski shots one evening. My preferred bag is the Lowepro Whistle 350. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Each month I will be coming to you with photography chat and tips from the road in hopes to not only help you progress your photography, but to motivate you to get out and shoot images that you love. Images that make you happy. Please don’t be strangers, if you ever have questions for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Maybe you will even spur the next blog topic!

I love to photograph sports. I love to do sports. Sometimes I even photograph myself doing sports. Want to know what I used to capture this image? Check out the photo below!

I love to photograph sports. I love to do sports. Sometimes I even photograph myself doing sports. Want to know what I used to capture this image? Check out the photo below!

For the shot above, I used a GoPro on Time Lapse mode, attached to the Joby Action Grip + Pole. One of my go to GoPro accessories!

For the shot above, I used a GoPro on Time Lapse mode, attached to the Joby Action Grip + Pole. One of my go to GoPro accessories!

Oh yeah, the event I was talking about earlier. That was my father’s suicide. At the end of the project we will be creating a photo book and proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to charities working in suicide prevention.

Cheers,

John Rathwell
#FoundSero

PS: If you wish to follow the project, check us out on Instagram – @searchingforsero, Facebook, Snapchat – @searching4sero or find us on any other of your preferred platforms. We are pretty much on everything!

Up Next: Down sizing my photography equipment for life on the road (and no, I don’t mean going mirrorless).

Adventure always awaits. John Rathwell captures a self portrait while out surfing icy waters. Captured with GoPro on Joby Action Grip.

Adventure always awaits. John Rathwell captures a self portrait while out surfing icy waters. Captured with GoPro on Joby Action Grip.

John Rathwell

Author John Rathwell

Searching for Sero is a mental wellness photography project created by professional photographer, John Rathwell and writer, Tracy Guenard. Sero being short for serotonin– the chemical believed to contribute to the feeling of happiness. In spring of 2016, the couple will embark in their 1991 VW Westfalia camper van to travel North-America in order to find and share the best Sero Stories of people who are passionate about outdoor adventure as the key to happiness, well-being and balance in their lives. The project was spurred after both Rathwell and Guenard lost close family members to suicide last year. At the end of the project the couple will create a photo book and the proceeds from the sales will be donated to charities working in suicide prevention. Please visit www.searchingforsero.com to read a collection of preview stories.

More posts by John Rathwell

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply

Vitec Group