My project, A Year Beside the Water, was going to be a documentation of photographs and stories gained from a year of weekly explorations to various bodies of water around my area. I had a notebook filled with thoughts and ideas about the project. I even started a new blog on Squarespace to house this life changing project.
On January 1st it started, and it started out with great enthusiasm, as most new projects do. I wrote stories about my youth, and about growing up on a dead-end, gravel county road that ended at a peaceful, winding river. I spent many childhood days exploring along the edge of that river, this is probably where my love of water and exploring began.
Shortly into the month of January the snow began to fall, which was not a surprise since I live in Michigan. I used my project to propel me out of the house to photograph landscapes of white, and ice instead of water. My project kept me from becoming housebound during the winter months.
Spring came, I documented the melting of the snow and ice, and the return of color to the landscape.
The project was going smoothly until the middle of April, roughly 100 days into it. I was preparing for a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to celebrate our daughter's graduation from college, and then we were packing her up and moving her back home. I continued to take pictures of water, but the ability to pen words to go with those pictures seemed to have gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of life.
Following closely on the heels of graduation, and the move home, was our first family vacation in a few years, a week long trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. The only water there was waterfalls with tourists crawling all over them, not very inspiring to write about and impossible to photograph.
In June, home and settled for the summer, I picked the project back up again. I decided to make weekly visits to our local state park which is on the shores of Lake Michigan, and about a five minute drive from my house. I spent early mornings watching the sun rise, and wandering the pier where the fishermen set up camp for the morning (I am not convinced they came to catch fish, I think most of them came for the fellowship of other fisher people). I strolled along the sandy edge of the beach, empty of sun-worshippers at that time of the morning.
The project continued for a short while once these weekly visits began. Eventually though the words dried up all together, but my love for photography grew by leaps and bounds. I was soon making multiple trips to the beach each week, just to wander with my camera. By the end of June I had stopped documenting on the Squarespace blog altogether, I never returned to it.
I thought I had started the project because I wanted to document a year's worth of change to the landscape and to myself. But looking back now, I started the project because I needed a reason to get out shooting again, I needed to fall in love with photography again. And it worked.