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Transforming Stressful Spaces with Nature Photography with Ernesto Rodriguez (Episode #180)

Ernesto Rodriguez is using a lifetime of experiences bridging art, science, and nature to create healing environments, and he can teach us how to combine our own unique life experiences to create real impact in remarkable ways. During this interview, you may see a path for yourself appear: one that allows you to live with joyous energy to the very end.



About Our Guest:

In the radiant and calming beauty of California’s Catalina Island resides a remarkable individual whose life’s work is a testament to the transformative power of art, science, and nature. Ernesto Rodriguez, an artist, photographer, educator, and social entrepreneur, has dedicated his entire future to weaving these elements together, in order to create experiences that heal, inspire, and connect. 

Ernesto is transforming healthcare and classroom settings into places of calm by using the resilient—and proven—power of the natural world. When you learn about what he is offering to classrooms, you may be inspired to contact him about a class or a group of kids you care about—and please feel free to do that! He is one of the most approachable, lovable, and engaging people you will ever have the pleasure to meet. 

Rodriguez freely admits that he is likely to invest every moment, until his last breath, in spreading the impact of what he has discovered through his work. Born and raised in Cuba, his journey into the world of art began at an early age, surrounded by the rich heritage of his family’s artistic legacy. His grandfather, a renowned muralist, instilled in him a deep love and appreciation for the visual arts. 

Despite this early appreciation for art, his life took a turn that moved him to seek formal training as a school psychologist and educator—but fate apparently had other plans. 

Rodriguez was working in Saudi Arabia when his life took a pivotal and serendipitous turn. There, he crossed paths with Jim Doran, a veteran National Geographic photographer, who mentored and honed Rodriguez’s visual skills. This encounter set the stage for his return to the United States in 1988, where he founded Ernesto Rodriguez Photography.

Over the years, his artwork has garnered widespread acclaim, with pieces exhibited in prestigious institutions such as the Smithsonian and the MoMA in New York. Yet his aspirations extended beyond the realm of traditional art galleries. 

In 2002, Rodriguez embarked on a new venture, founding Sereneview®, a company aimed at bringing calming nature imagery into healthcare environments through hospital curtains and ceiling murals. Today, Sereneview® imagery adorns over 3,500 hospitals worldwide, earning recognition from the healthcare industry for its therapeutic benefits.

Then, in 2018, Rodriguez’s passion for art and education converged when he founded Nature in the Classroom, a non-profit organization dedicated to integrating natural images into educational spaces. Through this initiative, Rodriguez has transformed classrooms into immersive environments, with ceiling murals depicting lush tree canopies that transport students to the heart of nature. The impact has been profound, with teachers and students alike reporting increased feelings of calm, creativity, and connection to the natural world.

Central to Rodriguez’s philosophy is the belief in the symbiotic relationship between art, science, and nature. He sees art as a bridge that connects individuals to the beauty of the natural world, while science provides a deeper understanding of its healing properties. This holistic approach is evident in his advocacy for biophilic design principles in healthcare settings, where natural photography is seamlessly integrated to promote well-being.

In a world increasingly disconnected from nature, Rodriguez’s work serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the profound inherent wisdom one can find there. Through his tireless dedication and creative vision, he inspires us to listen to its whispers and embrace its healing embrace.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, Ernesto Rodriguez’s work stands as a testament to the power that art, science and nature have to heal, inspire, and transform lives. In his own words:

“Nature has always been our greatest teacher and healer – it’s time we listen to its whispers and embrace its wisdom.”

-Ernesto Rodriguez

Let’s see what’s next for all of us, by following Ernesto’s example of curiosity and perseverance.

References Mentioned:


  • 00:00 – Intro & Welcome
  • 04:20 – Origins of Ernesto’s Projects
  • 08:55 – Ernesto’s Journey
  • 15:05 – The Psychological Benefits of Trees
  • 23:21 – Break
  • 25:38 – Listen to the Universe
  • 34:20 – A Lesson in Perseverance in Innovation
  • 40:15 – The Importance of Nature
  • 44:02 – Closing

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