Every August for many years, I have gone to the family cottage in Ontario Canada. It provides a change of scenery and a respite from the oppressive mid-Atlantic heat. My kids grew up partaking in the delights of a lakeside cottage, complete with a variety of things to do such as swimming, boating and fishing.
Cottage traditions grew as well. Card games never played at home (euchre, cribbage), picture puzzles and the generic birthday party became some of these customs. For the party, the kids picked wild blackberries and raspberries that decorated a cake that had one candle on top. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” although it was no one’s “day” and then we all exchanged small gifts with each other.
As a photojournalist, many of my subjects were people. The cottage became a perfect spot for me to look at another aspect of photography: macro. National Geographic Magazine runs few macro (close up) pictures in general interest stories, as there are many subjects to cover in the assigned country/state/city and a macro picture takes away valuable space from a more important part of the story. But at the cottage, it became an opportunity to work with this style of photography.
I came up with a plan. Each year I would take on a fifty-foot by fifteen-foot area of the surrounding terrain and spend some photography time only within those confines. Each year focused on a different “fifty feet”. The ground rules were that I had to be able to see the area from the cottage, that it was a natural setting, and was discerning from the others. In addition, I would photograph only when I wanted to, there be no set schedule or time that I had to be on site.
Over ten years, each summer I embarked on another fifty feet. The subject matter was quite unique: The Beach, The Wetlands, The Forest, Birch Glen, Rock Wall, Underwater!, Rocky Shores, A Small Stream, Sky and Clouds, and Wildflowers.
These images were not taken for publication, but as a photographic exploration. This is the first that they have appeared for public view. I encourage you to take on such a project. It will help hone your photographic technique, and provide a creative outlet that you may have not yet explored.