Gallery Forests

Green Medicine

I use photography as a tool to explore the raw elemental power of the natural world by visiting and re-visiting places I’m drawn to in order to be touched by their spiritual essence. I try to receive images that convey this essence to share with others.

Humanity has historically looked to trees for their healing properties and medicines. While we’ve made preparations from the leaves, bark or roots, humans have also known that to simply be in the presence of plant beings can be healing and can be ‘plant medicine’. We have a long and deep relationship with trees.




“….forests are places of quiet refuge…out of every quiet thought

is a rebirth of the mind in its own humanity.”

– Diana Beresford-Kroeger


Trees are potent living sources and symbols of spiritual and physical healing, regeneration, immortality, and salvation. Tree medicine also works on us at a deep psychological level beyond our awareness; trees have been seen as channels for divine energy for millennia. I believe we are still touched by that ancient world view even if we aren’t consciously aware of it. This can be seen in the recent phenomenon of Japanese ‘forest bathing’ now reaching the West, where people are guided into forests so they may be washed, cleansed and purified by the spiritual forces that pulsate through the woods in an all-encompassing unity – like a green baptism.

On a personal note, as a youth I ran, played and hiked in the forests shown here. I was able to swim in her streams, collect her firewood, and camp in her shelter. This is where I first remember my spiritual journey beginning – where I was pierced by shafts of sunlight streaming through the trees, penetrated by the dampness, filled with her perfume and felt the soft rotting wood under my feet. These forests provided me with refuge, solace, a spiritual home and the imprint for what I consider good in my life. Whenever I see these images I’m filled with gratitude.


“O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web

Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech…”

– Patrick Kavanagh


About Michael O’Brien

For me photography is a means of self-transformation and self-expression. It reaches deeply into both its subject and the person behind the lens. All my projects are based on discovering the outer and inner realms of life—and the potential for spiritual growth where those two realms touch.

I am self-taught and began by documenting events and places, often in other cultures. At that time, telling stories with portraits was my main focus. This led to many years of traveling in Latin America, and finally sinking roots close to home to make images that revolve around the reconciliation and healing movements in indigenous communities locally and abroad. I love to explore how the sacred manifests on the physical plane, both in the natural world and in the rituals and transformational moments of peoples’ lives.

To teach and mentor others is a top priority for me, working privately and at local colleges in Toronto. Many aspiring photographers look to my personalized mentoring programs and one-on-one training sessions for inspiration and growth as photographers. My workshops emphasize the use of photography as a means of self-expression through creative use of digital workflow tools to build powerful photographs.

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