A New Photography Project for 2019
I have often thought about how nice it would be to fully immerse myself into a photography project and produce a body of work on one theme or of one particular location.
I really like the idea of getting to know a small area really well. Spending the time to explore it thoroughly, getting to know the landscape intimately, visiting at different times of the day and at different times of the year to explore how the seasons and light at different times of the year interact with the landscape and the wildlife within that landscape
The thought of a really in-depth personal project really excites me as a photographer and I have often returned to the idea of finding a project that will really push me out of my comfort zones and force me into trying new things.
Deciding on a Project
So, back in October 2018, I made the decision that I would like to start a one year personal photography project starting in January 2019 and running until December 2019 - a full 12 months!
I decided on having a definite start and end point to the project, so there will be an element of pressure to get out and shoot (I know what I’m like - if I had no time frame at all, I don’t think I would ever finish it) and I felt that one year would give me ample time to really get my teeth into a project.
Deciding to start a project was the easy step, but deciding on what the project would entail was a far harder step. I thought initially about a Project 365 (where you take one picture a day for one year). But the internet is littered with unfinished 365 projects which I don’t want to add to. Being realistic, I cannot commit the time every day to taking a decent landscape photograph every single day for a year. I really do admire those that complete this project, but it isn’t really for me.
I also looked at a similar project called Project 52. Same principle as above, but instead the only commitment is to take one photograph per week for a year. Again, this wasn’t a good fit as I already take more than one photograph per week and the brief was far too broad. For my project I was looking for a realistic challenge to push me out of my comfort zones and hopefully stretch me into becoming a better photographer.
So, Project 365 and Project 52 were out. I decided that an “off the shelf” project was probably not for me - after all, this is meant to be a personal project - so I decided to go back to the drawing board and think about what I personally wanted to achieve photographically-wise in 2019
I wanted this project to really stretch me as a photographer, to encourage me to try new things and to present a realistic challenge. I want to produce a body of work that I could be proud of and that I would enjoy shooting and, as I mentioned above, I also decided that I would like to focus my efforts onto one location and really get to know it intimately.
The Project was Starting to Come Together
So, I had decided on the type of project – a one year exploration of an area. The next stage was to settle on a location.
I wanted something that would challenge me, was interesting and ideally had an interresting history or back story. It would need to be close enough to my home for me to get out and photograph it once or twice per week (even more regularly if possible) and I would ideally like to know the area a little before I started my project. Although there were a few locations that came to mind while I was planning my project, there was one place that I just kept coming back to and it really didn’t take long to decide on my final location. It had to be the river Gelt.
The River Gelt
The River Gelt is known locally as the “mad river”. It begins in the northern Pennines and flows from these small fells (which I’ve never explored and know very little about), through open farm land and into Gelt woods – which is one of my favourite spots. It then continues through woodland and farm land until it joins the river Irthing – I have included a link to the Wikipedia page here.
This stretch of countryside is perfect for a one year photography project. It is about 20 minutes in the car from my house, has woodland (one of my goals for 2019 is to become more proficient at woodland photography), water and small waterfalls, a very interesting history which I’m really looking forward to learning all about, areas that I know relatively well and areas that I know nothing about. It’s not too long, but there is enough to keep me interested and busy for the next 12 months.
And the title of my one year photography project (((drum roll please)))………….
The Mad River - A Photographers Journey.
So, expect to see lots from the Gelt River over the next twelve months. At the end of the project, I hope to produce a body of work that I can collect together as either a gallery exhibition, a local display, or a book of some kind. I’m sure I’ll settle on something as the project develops as I don’t have a firm plan just yet - I’m excited to let the project develop and grow organically over the next year.
I will of course be continuing to photograph the Lake District and other areas occasionally, but I will be focusing the majority of my efforts on this personal project and fully immersing myself into it over the next year. I hope come out the other side as a better photographer (particularly woodland photography), with new skills and with some great images and a far deeper connection to the area.
Have you completed a large project before? Do you have any advice or wisdom to share? Do you have any questions about my personal project? If so, please comment below and we can start a conversation!
Follow my progress over the next 12 months on Instagram, Facebook and here on my Blog.