One Year, One Route.

In the summer of 2019, I started walking. I mean, I’ve been walking most of my life, but I started walking for exercise.

I had always been a runner, but injury plagued me and I finally had to accept that my running days were over. So, I started walking; and it turns out, I just might like it more than running. Go figure.

Like most people, life had always been so fast-paced. Work, school, parenting, building a business, running said business, housekeeping, marriage- there was always something to do, and very little of it involved nature. But once I started walking, I found I noticed more of what was happening around me than I did when I was running. Even though I was a pretty slow runner, it seemed the scenery had always zoomed right past me.

I was also beginning to feel stale in my wedding photography and I really wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to try something new in photography and I wanted to become more in tune with nature. I felt like nature was all around me, but I wasn’t really experiencing it- it was just sort of happening and I was just catching little bits of it here and there.

So, in late winter of 2019, I decided that I would walk one route- from my home to our local park and back – about 3.25 total miles out and back (about 1 mile of that is a park) and photograph this one route… once a week… for an entire year. I wanted to see all of the changes in one space. I wanted to see how many different things I could capture in one area. I wanted to push myself to see more and more in the same boring route. Could I find something new each time?

The first few months were kind of rough. I started with my phone and then tried carrying my Nikon mirrorless with me- but neither of those were really working. So halfway through February 2020, I picked up a little Fuji from Service Photo, a backpack, and a pair of duck boots, and started my project in earnest.

Little did I know, that just a few short weeks later, the world would shut down and that this little project of mine, would be my only outlet- my sanity in a world of chaos. This year was rough for our family, and sometimes weeks passed where I didn’t walk at all, and other weeks where I walked for hours every day. This project allowed me to focus on not just photography, but on beauty, on solitude, on nature, and on myself. This project made me fall in love with photography all over again and grounded me in the world around me. This pandemic has taken so much from so many, but for this opportunity I’m incredibly grateful.

Are they the most amazing images? Not really- but they were a lot of fun to capture and I’m definitely looking forward to see where this new hobby goes. For the first time in my adult life, I’m taking photos just for me- and that is certainly a welcome addition. I have a few more projects in the works, but I figured I should start at the beginning.

So here you- one year, one route.

A Whole New Light

I think one of the reasons photography is so challenging for people just starting out, is because our cameras simply just don’t read the the scene the way our eyes do. In “bad” light (is there bad light?- I say no) sometimes the difference between the highlights and shadows is so great, our camera can’t process the differences the way our eyes (and our iPhones) can. You’re then left trying to achieve this balance by adding light to the shadow area or just blowing out your highlights.


From the time you pick up your first camera, you’re taught how to manipulate the settings to balance the light. We do this so that the image we get, best matches how our eyes see the scene. I remember one of the very first things I was taught in high school was “expose for the shadows, print for the highlights”. Of course, as time went on, and the digital revolution happened, it was switched to “expose for the highlights, recover the shadows”. And with a little dogging and burning- be it with a piece of cardboard or a wacom pen, it worked. You would get an image that looked the way it did when you stood in that scene and pressed the shutter button.


But I think we don’t always need to do that. What if we stopped trying to balance the light? What if we stopped trying to capture the scene the way our eyes see it? What if instead of manipulating our camera settings to see like us, we chose to see things the way our cameras do?

Plant- Image by Simon Smutek

It’s like seeing the world in a whole new light. (terrible pun absolutely intended)

Leaves on a tree