Photography 365 Project (Masterlist)

WORK IN PROGRESS

In 2010, I loved taking pictures. I brought my camera everywhere. The only thing that competed with my passion for taking pictures was my love for looking at other people’s pictures. In those days many other photographers were doing 365 projects, which meant that they taking a photograph everyday for one year.

The rules for this project were extremely broad. Many people did self-portraits daily. Unlike the selfie, these photographers would venture out with their DSLRs and ten-second times. They’d prepare by dragging props into the middle of the woods or Photoshopping themselves into insane environments. Other photographers would take landscape images, foodies would photograph their meals, each group was different.

At that time, I was incredibly inspired by Anna Szczekutowicz, who fit into the first group. She traveled to Poland and spent a lot of time in the woods creating self-portraits. Shortly after she finished her project, I decided to start my own.

January of that year, I made my first attempt. Around day 20 I missed a day and decided to start over. Then, I failed again and again for the same reason. My standards were set way too high. Finally in May I started for the last time. I met another photographer named Carolyn Snyder, who pushed me artistically. Her daily comments helped keep me on track.

In May of 2011, I finished my first 365. 18:365

Shortly thereafter I deleted most of the photos. I was ashamed at most of the photographs I had taken. They didn’t compare to the other photographers around me. There were fantastic artists who created stunning images daily. Yet, I barely had anything that I was proud of.

A couple weeks ago I decided to start archiving the original images from that 365. I didn’t have a backup of the project and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t lose it. As I saved each individual file, I realized that the project drastically improved my photography skills. Each photo was also attached to a memory, which is incredibly valuable.

Other photographers have deleted their FlickrStreams as well. They don’t want to show their images that they aren’t proud of. I get it. Through my 365 I took plenty of cat photos and images that make me blush with embarrassment. These photographs definitely aren’t my best work. But they show progress.

At the beginning, I barely had my own camera. A few months in I bought my first lens (Canon 50mm F/1.4). I didn’t know anything about cameras. I shot everything on auto. Then I got the lens and shot on Aperture Priority (basically auto). Slowly I learned how to photograph myself and others. I learned how to find environments to take pictures in. I learned how to pick up my camera tirelessly and run out to take a picture before the sunset.

I’m posting my 365 because I want others to see that you can start with shitty pictures. In fact, everyone does. We all start by exaggerating contrast or colors or something. Slowly over time you learn how to edit. You learn how to over-expose. Then, eventually, you start taking less shitty pictures. It just takes a while.

Rather than posting all images into one article, I decided to post them into week compilations. For example, week one is day one through day seven of the project. This way, you can navigate through them without seeing 365 pictures instantly. Also without crashing your web browser.

All the original text is posted with each image. While some of the things I said were silly, I feel it necessary to leave included. There is a ridiculous amount of spelling errors. In the world of spell-check I don’t know how it happened but I left those errors there too. Hopefully you can just roll with it.

I’ve posthumously renamed each week, you can click on any of them to get started. Once you’re inside a post, you can navigate to either the previous or the next post. I wish you all the best of browsing. Please excuse me while I blush over how bad some of these pictures are.

 

Week One (Eric begins by doing yoga in weird places and dragging friends into nettle plants)

Week Two (Then writes things across his pictures and begins taking dark images)

Week Three (He then leaves his room to venture into the woods, which he wouldn’t leave for the next 12 months)

Week Four (Eric learns how to tint his images, and chooses them all to be red)

Week Five (Then forgets how to operate his camera by breaking the shutter)

Week Six (He risks his camera’s life by photographing a water balloon fight with flash, everybody hates him)

Week Seven (Apparently Eric still has friends. Ooooh and a nice kissing picture)

Week Eight (The week starts fancy but degrades quickly to toilet paper and kitchen pictures)

Week Nine (Lightly colored pictures, also known as the moment Eric stops over-saturating him images)

Week Ten (A scanner isn’t a camera but I guess it’s part of your 365 project)

Week Eleven (Fancy black and white pictures for photography class)

Week Twelve

Week Thirteen

Week Fourteen

Week Fifteen

Week Sixteen

Week Seventeen

Week Eighteen

Week Nineteen

Week Twenty

Week Twenty One

Week Twenty Two

Week Twenty Three

Week Twenty Four

Week Twenty Five

Week Twenty Six

Week Twenty Seven

Week Twenty Eight

Week Twenty Nine

Week Thirty

Week Thirty One

Week Thirty Two

Week Thirty Three

Week Thirty Four

Week Thirty Five

Week Thirty Six

Week Thirty Seven

Week Thirty Eight

Week Thirty Nine

Week Forty

Week Forty One

Week Forty Two

Week Forty Three

Week Forty Four

Week Forty Five

Week Forty Six

Week Forty Seven

Week Forty Eight

Week Forty Nine

Week Fifty

Week Fifty One

Week Fifty Two

 

Thank you so much for checking this out. This project changed my life and it laid the groundwork for years of photographing. If you want to check out my more recent photography, check out my Flickr or follow me on Facebook.

Three years after completing this project, I completed another 365 project. Instead of taking a picture every day, I blogged. It doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about as long as you’re out there doing what you love. A friend asked me once why I do all this. I told him that I create because it’s what I’m passionate about. Is there any other purpose in life than to follow your passion?

Advertisements

Quality or Quantity

Is it better to have quality content or to have lots of content? Often on YouTube, users that make great videos only have a few of them. While content creators that make mediocre content tend to have an endless amount of videos. For a very long time I thought it was better to have more videos than less high quality videos.

What this means as an artist/content creator is; having high quality work is more valuable than having low quality work. It’s also better to have a larger portfolio than a smaller one. Therefore it’s best to have a large body of work that is high quality. However, it’s extremely difficult to combine the two.

Artist tend to have a problem: we always want better quality work. When we create something that is beautiful and perfect, we want to create something that is more beautiful and more perfect. It doesn’t matter what the previous quality was, as long as the next is better. This drives progress because it forces the creators to motivate themselves to produce better content, thus increasing skill.

However, it often is intermixed with unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We have difficulty accepting our work and being proud of our products. Sometimes we create crap content. Everyone does.

Anyways, for a long time I thought it was better to have more content. More content means that you could explore more areas and find what you like best. It also means that you have a larger portfolio which could cater to a larger group of consumers. By creating a lot of work, you grow significantly.

However, mass production doesn’t always drive improvement. This blogging project is about creating a large body of content. Its purpose is to teach me how to write. By sitting down each night and finding a topic to talk about, I’m learning a skill. At the same time, writing daily doesn’t give me time to edit, or really think about concepts. It’s very much a produce, produce, produce, mindset.

As the last two weeks come about, I’ve been getting this sickened feeling in my stomach. This blogging project took a lot of time. It’s produced 350 blog posts so far and more than 120,000 words. Overall, this is the most I’ve written in my life.

The last days though, I’ve been reflecting. This year has been full of adventures. I’ve recorded some of them in blog posts and others in pictures. The mass quantity has forced me to learn how to write about any situation at any given time. Which is a great skill but I can’t help but feel that it’s also been a poison. Right now I’m rambling. There is purpose to this text but nothing that is worth editing. Mass quantity breeds ignorance of the process.

This work isn’t great. It’s just work. At the end, I don’t know how many posts I will keep up. I learned from it but it’s not something I want to show off. The lesson was learned and I’ve grown from it but this isn’t my portfolio. It’s not a complete version of myself.

A couple years ago, a photographer I loved removed all of her work from Flickr. I was absolutely devastated. Her work was a huge inspiration. The photos she posted were one of the reasons that I started taking photos myself. I didn’t know what to do when I couldn’t look through her work.

I was devastated and vowed that I would never remove my work. I wanted others to be able to see my growth. They could also look through a large body of work. Perhaps they would see that I’m human and they could create too.

As this project halts, I don’t want to display my content. I want to remove it and start fresh. It takes a lot to start from scratch but I don’t like this content. It’s not polished. I can’t share it with everyone. It’s imperfect.

I can’t answer whether having a large body of work is better or worse than having a higher quality of work. That’s something you have to decide. Would you rather put a lot of time into creating one excellent piece or five pieces? When you go online, would you rather see five mediocre videos of your favorite YouTuber or one awesome video? It’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself: quality or quantity?

350/365

310/365

Tonight I had the ethereal experience of meeting with Joel Robison, Sarah Ann Loreth, and Shane Black. Many people feel distant from those who inspire them because they see them on screens. They watch them on TV or hear about them on the internet. There’s always some barrier to be transcended and these people always feel so far away.

Lately in the photo community, these barriers have started to fall. Photographers like The Wild Ones go out and support other artists. They teach and encourage us to follow our dreams. By meeting with them tonight, they’ve made the art community feel so much closer for me. I can’t thank them enough for taking time to come visit and I’ll definitely be writing more about this tomorrow! Hope you are all having a wonderful night!

310/365

7/31 Blogtober

Abandoned Paper Factory; Ea, Basque Country, Spain

There was an abandoned paper plant in the city where I lived in Spain. The buildings were so old that the plants had overtaken and stripped the walls down to stone. The people in the village had grown with the factory and did not see its beauty.

On my first year, I explored and took many pictures. These ones are all unedited and directly off my hard drive. If I ever go back, I think I’ll camp and live there. At the front of that creek is a giant dam and I took pictures with it during my second year. Looking back, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

IMG_0619

IMG_0570

IMG_0567

307/365

4/31 Blogtober

 

Daily Digest # 1

Occasionally I run across online media that I want to share on here but not enough for an entire post. While Six Word Stories is great, I think you should check out their site rather than reading an entire post about them. The idea behind “Daily Digest”s is to share media that I find on a day-to-day basis in a casual way where you can just click links to read more about them.

For example, I absolutely love Whitney Justesen’s work, and I’ve interviewed her in the past. Recently she’s written on her own blog. In fact, she’s written seven different posts about her trip to Iceland. She breaks them down like this:

1. Reykjavik
2. Vík
3. The South
4. Leaving the South
5. Embarking on the Ring Road
6. Back Around Again
7. An Epic Conclusion

Each is filled with beautiful pictures and a wonderful perspective on traveling. If you haven’t already, you should follow her blog or mosey on over to The Roaming Photographer.

If you’re into sound, and you really like electronic music, you should check out Rameses B‘s album “Reborn“! It creates such a beautiful atmosphere of sounds and is definitely worth listening through.

The song “Let It Be” by Blackmill has been running through my head. It’s so serene and peaceful. I can meditate with this song on because it’s so calming to my head. It resets my mood and helps me let go.

While I didn’t mention it the other day, I’ve been using this great App called “Lift” to track goals and to motivate myself. Basically you can login, join goals or create your own. For example, I’m part of “Pushup(s)” – each day at noon my phone buzzes and reminds me to participate. Afterwards I click a giant check mark and it tracks how many days I’ve done it.

Each goal has a message board with it where people ask questions and offer advice. It helps foster community and, in the end, motivates you to complete your goals. In the pushup group, you can find advice on form or how to build muscle. Eventually you’ll hit a point where you’ve build a habit and you no longer need the app, but it helps get you there.

Right now I’m also part of “NOBNOM” and “Flossing Daily”. Eventually I’ll be so used to flossing that I’ll do it out of habit. Until then, it’s satisfying to click that giant check mark at the end of the day. Also, if your friends use the site they can comment on your accomplishments and give you props for going towards your goals!

When I’m feeling blue, I turn on Ronald Jenkees’ YouTube videos. He’s always got such a great attitude and he’s incredibly skilled at his craft. I love listening to his music and you can hear the passion in his songs. Here’s another song by him before I finish this post!

298/365

The Rise of the Jack of all Trades

Finding your skills can be difficult, so two months ago I took a survey on Authentic Happiness that measured my 24 character strengths. My number one character trait was “Love of Learning”, and I think that it fits me well. People describe me as a Jack-of-all-Trades because I have a very broad range of interests. Needless to say, it wasn’t a shock to be told that I’m passionate about learning.

Currently there’s a stigma in our society that we need to specialize and that being a Jack-of-all-Trades is a bad thing. It stems from the phrase, “Jack-of-Trades but Master of None”. We think that if you have too many interests, that you cannot be skilled in more than one area.

This is a silly thought because with how much information passes our faces, it’s near impossible to choose one interest. This conflict stems from grade school, where we’re taught to “pay attention” and to “focus” on school work. The teachers tell us that it’s bad to lose focus or to daydream. What’s worse is that we think these traits are for children and that we’ll eventually grow out of them.

As we age, we believe that we need to focus on one subject. We should go to college and be a doctor or an accountant. The truth shows itself when you look at statistics about college students: at the University of Florida, 61% of students change their major (NYtimes). People simply have a difficulty in choosing one interest.

“Shop Class as Soul Craft” (Mathew B. Crawford) discusses this dilemma extensively. It focuses on how we’ve shifted from a society that desires “to know” into one that desires certificates and diplomas. It’s self-evident that we learn from a young age to focus on one category and get that diploma. This model of education and learning has destroyed Aristotle’s statement “All human beings by nature desire to know”.

The Jack of all Trades is rising in popularity again because we have a large volume of information at our fingertips. During my parent’s era, if you wanted to learn, you had to go to the library and find a book. Today, you can pull out your iPhone and learn about polar shifts or current quantum theories.

However, the education system is still built on specializing in one area. You either become a mathematician or zoologist. At best you can major in one area while minoring in another. You can’t minor in too many subjects or you’re clearly not a specialist. This sentiment lingers into our personal lives: we believe that we should only have a few interests.

As a Jack, I follow what I’m interested in. If I hear an electro-swing song and it has my fancy, I’ll go listen to more of it. When I’m scrolling through Facebook, articles grab my interest. Maybe one will be about animal testing in Europe and the next will be about the FIFA World Cup. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, as long as I’m interested in it.

Tim Ferriss has written about this on his blog, and he’s spoken about it in interviews before: our society measures success with dollar bill signs instead of with invigoration. The goal of life should not be to become rich but to instead to be passionate and interested. If you are bored, you have failed.

If we reorient the purpose of our life from getting a well-paying job into a life that we are passionate, you’ll find that the money doesn’t matter. When you find excitement in your daily life, you have succeeded. The more interested you are, the more you’ll find happiness in life.

When I took that survey a few months ago, I gained an appreciation for learning. I’ve found passion in my daily life and while I choose to specialize in certain areas, I don’t limit myself to one subject. If I find something that interests me, I follow it until I no longer fancy it. I urge you to do the same thing; find what lights a fire in you and make it part of your life. Blogging was a spark to my belly full of fuel, and I’ve felt more alive since starting this project. People aren’t born passionate, they learn to cultivate it in themselves. Find what you love and chase it, life is too short to stay in and watch TV everyday.

231/365

Oh, and here’s some of the photos in color from yesterday!

smallcolor1 smallcolor4 smallcolor5 smallcolor6

Whitney Justesen’s Icelandic Expedition (Interview)

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground”. He was speaking about balancing great dreams with action. A photographer from Northern California reminds me of this quote because she is down to earth but dreams of distant lands. She manages these wander-struck dreams of travel by making them into a reality.

Whitney Justesen is an all-around artist. Currently, she runs her own photography business in California and enthusiastically posts about the places she visits. She specializes in portraiture and has no reservations about blending people with the beautiful landscapes she sees. Her presence on Flickr has made her known as both a kind person and powerful artist.

Whitney’s style often aligns with what Damien Rayuela calls “The Halted Traveler”. This style of art was attributed to romantic German painters whose subjects looked away from the viewer. This asks the person looking at the photograph to share the view with the subject.

Whitney’s art is intimate in the same way: you have the opportunity to feel like you are standing with the person she photographed. These emotions are well documented along with her travels on her Flickr and Tumblr. You can tell that Whitney is going to far away places because with each photograph, she invites you to run away with her.

The latest place she brought us to is Iceland.

Instaxes2

_________________

Eric Albee:

Whitney, first I wanted to say thank you, both for the interview and sharing so much of yourself. Your passion for life is louder than words and your desire to travel is contagious! It’s a pleasure to interview again and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

Let’s start at the beginning, you teamed up with photographers Rob Woodcox and Elizibeth Gadd for this trip. The three of you funded your stay through Kickstarter under the name “The Restless Youth“. Where did the idea of traveling to Iceland originate and why did you choose this as your name?

Whitney Justesen:

The idea for traveling to Iceland was actually Lizzy’s idea, originally. She had been discussing it with a friend of hers for months, and then with another friend of ours from Flickr, and then with Rob. I originally did not expect to go with them, but as soon as I heard about it, I knew that that was something I would love to do. When the other friend unexpectedly dropped out because of financial restraints, Lizzy and Rob came to me and asked if I would be interested in joining them. Without almost a second thought, I made my decision to go—and the rest is history.

As far as the name “The Restless Youth” goes, it was a group decision to come up with a catchy name to go by for our journey. After a lot of discussion and debate, we decided on something that seemed to fit all our personalities pretty well 😉

Small

Eric Albee:

Rob (MI), Elizibeth (B.C.), and You (CA), come from very different parts of the country. According to your biographies, you also seem to have different artistic visions. How did you collaborate and plan this trip? What were some of the things each person wanted? As a group, what locations and experiences did you decide you couldn’t live without?

Whitney Justesen:

Rob, Lizzy, and I met for the first time back in 2012 in Vancouver, BC at a small Flickr meetup. I had been following both of their photography for several years previous to meeting them, and as soon as we got together, it was pretty obvious that we clicked. We all have very different backgrounds and artistic visions, but we are united in our desire to create and inspire the world with our art. We all knew that we wanted to
go into this journey to Iceland with the intention of creating something new—for Rob and Lizzy it was to create their own new photography series’, and for me, I wanted to work on a short film about our expedition. (Hopefully I’ll start working on that soon haha)

Lizzy had all the locations planned out to a T. Since she has wanted to go to Iceland for years, she knew exactly the places we should see and visit in Iceland. With those places in mind, we were able to formulate ideas and come up with conceptual photographs that would work in those environments.

Eric Albee:

Lately there has been a lot of attention placed on Iceland for its beautiful landscapes. Parts of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were filmed in locations that you visited. Music videos by famous musicians (i.e. Woodkid (“I Love You“) and Bon Iver (Holocene))were also shot there. Artists like Sigur Rós and Björk originate from Reykjavík. With all the media displaying Iceland, what were some of your expectations before arriving?

Whitney Justesen:

Yeah! It’s really so interesting how much more attention Iceland has been getting in the media in the past few years. I’ve seen at least three movies in the past year that were filmed in Iceland, and as you said, some of the greatest music artists of our age are either Icelandic citizens, or have filmed music videos there. One of my favorite music videos is Holocene, by Bon Iver, which is filmed on location in Iceland.

It’s no wonder why, too, because Iceland is truly beautiful. It’s gorgeous in such a distinct way from other places in the world because it’s so strange and otherworldly, and relatively untouched in its natural beauty. Unlike the U.S. and other popular tourist destinations around the world, there aren’t fences and security guards and signs all over the place, making sure you don’t touch anything. Iceland is real and raw in every way, and I wish there were more places in the world like it.

I think if I had any expectations of what Iceland would be like before I went, I think I knew I was going somewhere that was totally otherworldly—almost like walking on Mars or being transported into a prehistoric age. Obviously, my expectations were met and exceeded in every way.

FiniteEric Albee:

A couple weeks before traveling to Iceland, you shot an elopement in Alaska. You’ve also been to many other locations including Paris, Vienna, London and all over Italy. What have you seen on this journey that is different from the earlier ones? What were some of the unique challenges to visiting Iceland? Were there any barriers in language or with laws that you had to overcome?

Whitney Justesen:

That’s the thing I love about traveling. Everywhere you go is different and interesting in it’s own way. That’s why I have such a strong desire to see more of the world, to experience life in other places and feel pleasantly uncomfortable in my surroundings. Europe is different from Iceland because of course there are several places that are tourist traps, so you have to be on your guard and watchful of everything you do.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Europe, because obviously that’s not true—I love Europe with all my heart and can’t wait to see more of it! However, it was different in Iceland because, while some places were more “touristy”, the majority of the country was open, untouched land just waiting to be explored. I loved it.

Also, I was actually surprised how few language barriers there were in Iceland; almost everyone in the country spoke English! I wasn’t expecting that at all, especially knowing that Iceland was an isolated island without as many tourists coming through as other places in Europe.

I think the biggest challenge we faced was understanding the names of certain locations we visited (try saying Fjaðrárgljúfur five times fast) and figuring out our way around the country. There was also a little incident with a speeding ticket at one point that I won’t elaborate on… 😉

Eric Albee:

We all know how long a flight feels when you’re excited to go to a new place. Especially when you have to fly over the ocean! You’re an experienced traveler, so could share some of the ways that you keep yourself entertained on a long flight? What songs were stuck on repeat for the flight over? Were there any books you couldn’t put down?

Whitney Justesen:

Haha anyone who knows me knows that I strongly dislike flying. Reasons being, a) I dislike sitting in one place for several hours and b) I severely hate turbulence. So I guess with that being said, I’m a good person to ask this of because I usually have a lot of things to distract me on long flights haha.

I have a hard drive I usually bring with me that has movies on it, or I read until I can’t keep my eyes open any more. This planebride it was “The Fault in Our Stars”, because the movie was coming out right after I returned and I hadn’t read the book yet. Finished it halfway through the first flight 😉

When I don’t feel like reading or watching movies anymore, I often just stare out the window at the patterns in the clouds and the textures of the earth far below me. Those are always some of my favorite views on my
travels.

Also, I tried to keep a journal on this trip, but I literally just wrote one entry the entire time—on the flight to Iceland. Whoops…

In The Shadow of the Falls

Eric Albee:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty showed that Iceland is very different from the US. There’s a scene in the movie when Walter interacts with two Icelandic boys who don’t speak English. After non-verbally exchanging an item for a long-board, he skates down the side of a mountain. During your adventure you visited that same location. The newness of that experience was enough to change Walter’s outlook
on life. When you first arrived to Reykjavík, and your view of Iceland was fresh like Walter’s, what was the first thing that struck you? What were some of the bizarre things that you saw while visiting the country?

Whitney Justesen:

I saw that movie (Walter Mitty) at the end of last year, and as soon as the credits rolled, I told my friend Katie, “That’s it, I’m going to go to Iceland someday.” At that point, I didn’t have any plans for visiting the country, and Rob and Lizzy hadn’t even started discussing the trip. Who could have known at that time that just about six months later, I would actually be going to Iceland? It’s crazy to think about it now.

Anyways, on to your questions 😉

Since I was about as unfamiliar with Iceland as Walter Mitty when I arrived, besides reading some books and seeing some pictures, I didn’t know fully what to expect. As I said in a previous answer, I knew Iceland was going to be strange and different, but nothing could have truly prepared me for what I was going to see. Iceland is such a mixture of landscapes and environments—from calm mountainous valleys with waterfalls trickling down, to harsh volcanic regions, to tumultuous beaches with gigantic cliffs all around.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I was surprised at how modern the city was, while still being so…quaint, I guess? It was a bustling metropolis, with shops and bars and restaurants on every street. I definitely preferred the open landscapes of Iceland to the city life though. Some of the most bizarre things I saw in Iceland were the freestanding rocks out in the ocean, like at Reynisdrangar Beach, as well as the glacial lagoon with icebergs floating all around, and the canyon we visited at the end of our trip, called Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Iceland itself is just crazy bizarre in every way.

img_2468edit2

Eric Albee:

At the beginning of trip, you spent time in Iceland’s largest city. The images you posted of Reykjavík showed the colorful buildings and its beauty. How would you contrast this area with other cities that you’ve traveled to in the past? When you
were in this city, what did you do on your average day?

Whitney Justesen:

Reykjavik was an interesting city, to say the least. It wasn’t like most of the European cities I have visited in the past, as it was much more modern and colorful. There was street art on almost every large wall in the city. The citizens were well-dressed, fair, and impeccably beautiful. Also, there were cats everywhere haha. Even though it was different from most cities I have visited, I felt comfortable. I liked it.

On an average day in Reykjavik, we got up, went to the coffee shop up the road called Reykjavik Roasters, and just explored the city. We stopped into shops and looked at sweaters and talked to the shopkeepers. We ate at a little vegan-vegetarian restaurant called Graen Kostur (I think I butchered that spelling) and explored the gigantic church in the city center. We took pictures. We got excited for all the places we would soon be visiting on our journey. Reykjavik was a good base for us, but I couldn’t have stayed the entire time there. There’s too much to see in the rest of the country.

1

Eric Albee:

On Tumblr you posted a series of photos titled “From where I stood“. The series included six images taken downward towards your feet at various places along the trip. This set has received over 3,000 notes on Tumblr and is steadily increasing. The images almost connect the viewer with the areas that you visited. Could you tell us a little about the series and locations featured in them?

Whitney Justesen:

It’s now got over 10,000 notes, thank you 😉 Haha No, but it was actually a series that I didn’t originally have planned at all, but it sort of came to me while I was in Iceland. There’s a photographer I studied about in my History of Photography class a few years back that liked to include the very tips of his feet in his images, as a way to say “I was here.” That was my way of documenting the fact that I was there in Iceland, and I guess Tumblr caught on to it 🙂 Thanks internet?

Eric Albee:

At Skógafoss you wrote about being left breathless by the power of nature. The variance in locations is astounding and the size of these wonders is enough to make a person’s jaw drop. You have photographs with icebergs, giant fields, moss-covered canyons, dark rock caverns, and it’s all on one island. With that said, can you describe some of the scenery you experienced and the powers of nature that you saw?

Whitney Justesen:

Oh man. I have thought about this a thousand times since returning from Iceland, and each time I try to put it into words, I am left speechless. Nature, in its purest state, is monumental and powerful. It can be dangerous too, and we saw so much that would have scared a lot of people. Luckily (or maybe unfortunately), I have never been one to shy away from perilous places.

I couldn’t leave the glacial lagoon without standing on an iceberg; I couldn’t leave Reynisdrangar Beach without running past the violent, gigantic waves to shoot in the cave on the other side; I couldn’t visit the canyon without standing on one of those freestanding rocks. I might be crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Iceland provided us with this crazy, strange, beautiful amusement park that is an absolute photographer’s paradise, and we all loved it so much.

Sweetheart, what have you done

Eric Albee:

Adventure is Out There” was a photograph that you took at Svartifoss Waterfall. The image features the three of you facing away from the camera and towards the water. Many of your images from Iceland are styled in a similar way. Your close and intimate portraits suddenly changed to something more distant. Your subjects were no longer close and the images seemed to take on their subject’s environment. Was there a particular theme or emotion that you trying to convey through these postures and sudden change in style?

Whitney Justesen:

I have a lot of friends who take photos in a similar way— Lizzy, for example. I think it’s a way to connect humanity with nature. For her, it’s a way to show that we as humans are so small in comparison to the world, and yet we each have worth and importance. I wish to share a similar sentiment, but I think for me, it’s also a way to show that humans are so fascinated by the natural world, and we can blend so seamlessly
with it.

We were created from the dust of the earth, and we are a part of this world. We can either learn to love and appreciate it, or we can go on with life focusing on ourselves and our own interests. For me, I choose the former. Life is beautiful, nature is powerful, and I want to spend my life appreciating the fact that it is here for us to experience it. These photos I take of people (and myself) looking out onto the world are my way of showing how important it is to appreciate life and all its wonders.

AdventureisoutthereEric Albee:

In this image (above) you thanked Vanguard Photo USA for contributing
supplies for your trip. These included tripods and other equipment. What were some of the unique challenges to taking photographs in such a raw environment? In the past you’ve posted funny out-takes where you’ve tripped or otherwise had to retake a photograph. Do you feel that you were better ready for this adventure?

Whitney Justesen:

Haha I had completely forgotten about the photo I posted once where I tripped right in the middle of taking a photo…man now I can’t
stop laughing haha.

Anyways, *wipes tears away*, as I said, Iceland was actually one of the
easiest places to take photos I have ever visited.

The reason I say that is because, a) there was absolutely no one around for miles in many places we visited. It made it easy to just focus in on the photographic process, without worrying about people seeing you, judging you, etc.

The other reason it was easy was because b), duh, it’s Iceland—anywhere you pointed your camera is a gorgeous shot haha. I mean really the only thing that was a struggle for me was taking photos that I felt captured the essence and beauty of those locations. I didn’t want the concepts or the outfits or the poses to clash with the natural beauty I saw, and I wanted my photos to complement it, not distract from it.

Eric Albee:

For a week you traveled on Ring Road (also known as Route 1) around Iceland. It circles the entire island and connects many of the places that you visited during your trip. The road is notoriously small and unpaved in certain patches. Many of nights that week you spent camping. What was the average day like during this time? What was it like sleeping in wild and open Iceland at night?

Whitney Justesen:

Traveling around the Ring Road was definitely a defining experience on our journey through Iceland. We drove along Fjords and across volcanic landscapes, through snowy mountain passes and beside gigantic waterfalls. We spent those few days driving as much as we could, seeing as much as we could, until we got too tired to go any further. Then, we would find a suitable place to camp for the night, and we would pitch our
tent.

Now, honestly, I’m not the world’s best camper. If I’m cold, I get grumpy, and I don’t like sleeping on the hard ground if I don’t have to. I don’t like bugs and I don’t like large wild animals coming too close for comfort in the middle of the night. The times I’ve camped in the past haven’t always been ideal, and so to say I was worried about camping in the middle of nowhere in freezing Iceland would be an understatement.

However, to my surprise, I actually came to like camping while I was there, a lot more than I had in the past. We always found relatively soft ground to sleep on, our tent was warm and we all had enough blankets to keep us from freezing, and apparently in Iceland, there are no wild and dangerous animals to worry about. It was probably my best camping experience up until that point in my life, for sure.

Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to take these camping experiences and apply them. I’ll be better at camping from now on, I promise 😉

//instagram.com/p/oKD0eHtAnK/embed/

Eric Albee:

On Instagram you posted an image where you stood on the side of a mountain. You wrote about being struck with a sudden clarity of your life. In that moment you understood why things happened and why others didn’t. After returning home, how do you think these moments of clarity have affected you? How do you feel that traveling to Iceland has changed you both artistically and as a person?

Whitney Justesen:

My honest belief is that everything does happen for a reason. Now, I’m not sure how much I believe in destiny, but I do believe that we do not end up on certain paths by mistake. As I was standing on that mountain, I was reflecting on the experiences in my life that had brought me to that point. I have been through some difficult times and
nasty heartbreaks, but I believe those experiences led me to that moment,
to that feeling of peace and understanding.

Iceland changed me in many ways. I am still the same person I have always been of course, but it gave me a new outlook on life, a new appreciation for the beauty of the world, and of course, it strengthened my friendships. Everything is always changing these days, but I will always have those moments on my travels to look back on, and remember the way I felt. I know now that whatever happens in the future, whatever gut-wrenching trials I have to go through, it will always lead me to where I’m supposed to be.

Eric Albee:

Many people complain about the difficulties associated with traveling while simultaneously having a deep desire for visiting faraway places. Common struggles to hear about included budgeting, making time, and having a fear of going to a brand new place. If you had to give advice about overcoming these difficulties, what would say? In your own travels, what struggles do you face and how do you overcome them?

Whitney Justesen:

Traveling isn’t easy. I mean, if you’re a millionaire, maybe it is—but not when you’re a young adult just out of college. (Or give or take a few years). There are many things I have had to give up in order to travel as much as I have in the past year or so.

I’ve never really had fears about going to new places, so I can’t speak for that one in particular, but I have faced the challenge of budgeting and making time for travel. I rarely have a lot of money in my bank account — often I make a good sum of money from a client gig or something, and then I immediately spend it on a plane ticket. But, luckily, I have always had enough to get by.

It’s important to make sure you budget your travel wisely, as we tried to do on our Icelandic journey. It doesn’t always work out exactly like you have planned, but it’s important to budget as much as you can. I would hate to be stuck in some foreign country without money :O I also firmly believe that people should make travel a priority, if they can.

Everybody needs to get away from the stresses of everyday life once in a while, and we can all benefit so much from seeing new places and experiencing new ways of life. Even if it’s small road trips or day trips, it’s always a great idea to get away as often as you are able to—even if it’s just for the day.

Photos

Eric Albee:

On the Kickstarter campaign, Rob Woodcox, Elizibeth Gadd, and you ventured out to “be an example to others that artists can truly thrive and create anything they can dream”. Since returning do you feel that you’ve accomplished this goal? On a personal level, do you feel more satisfied as a freelance artist by having gone on this journey?

Whitney Justesen:

I personally think we accomplished this goal above and beyond our expectations. I hope that we were able to show people that nothing is out of reach if you truly want it, as Iceland was a dream of each of ours. We wanted to travel to a foreign country, one that was unfamiliar to all of us, and we wanted to create new work and new personal series’—and I can say without question that we each did just that. Everybody can live their dreams if they truly desire to do so, and sometimes all it takes is a first step in the right direction.

Personally, I feel more fulfilled and satisfied with myself as an artist than I have in years following this journey. I have proven to myself that I can make big things happen, and that I can live the life I desire to. Iceland truly was the journey of a lifetime, and I will never forget the memories I made there.

Eric Albee:

Thank you Whitney for documenting such an amazing adventure and taking us along with you. Viewing your work is always a pleasure and I appreciate your time and wisdom. I look forward to where you go in the future and wish you safe travels wherever that may be.

Whitney Justesen:

Thank you Eric 🙂

TheFathomlessSurrender

_________________

If you are looking to view more of Whitney’s journey to Iceland, the links to her websites are posted below:

Facebook
Flickr
Website
Instagram
Blog
Travel blog

 

220/365