The Story of an Evolution
This is the story of an evolution: the evolution of a project, of a photographer and a business person. A story of how a little germ of idea sowed in Maulden Wood in England in the spring of 2013 is blossoming into a full-on vocation.
Mick (hubby), Bea the Dog and I started a project called On Your Doorstep over a year ago. The idea is to get people engaged with the natural environment on their doorsteps, in the hopes that if they appreciate it's beauty, they'll want to protect it. The project consists of a series of exhibitions and a public participation element. You can find out more about the project and how you can participate at www.thurmanovich.com/on-your-doorstep.
It all started In 2013, when Mick and I were wondering aloud what we could do about the fact that people so rarely see the natural beauty around them. We had little idea that it would turn into a bit of an undertaking! We knew that we wanted to provide an accessible message, something easier to digest than “we’re killing the planet” (which we are, but it’s too insurmountable a message for many of us to deal with). We thought (and still think), that if we could show people how beautiful their surroundings are, they could be coaxed into protecting their local environment. And then maybe their neighboring county, then the country, then...
In April 2014, as part of a 3-month photographic road trip, we spent five weeks in the incredible beauty of the western highlands of Scotland – never have we uttered so many “wows” in such a short space of time. We marveled again at how people didn’t even know was magic lay only a few miles away. So we decided to do an exhibition of the images we’d made during our trip to show them. We did that in August 2014. One thing led to another, and one exhibition turned into eight, and an 18-month project. Now we had ourselves a national tour including all four countries in the UK.
We have made it a point in all the exhibitions to show pictures from accessible locations - not more than about a 10 minute walk from a car park or a main road. We don't want people thinking they have to hike for miles to find great beauty. We also don't want people to think they have to have fancy gear to capture what they see, so we use various cameras from iPhones to Linhofs and digital Nikons.
We’re now ¾ of the way through and I’ve been wondering “what next?”. Do I take a big chunk of time off and just photograph for the pleasure of it? Do I take a short break then launch into another project? But, the more I think about it, the more I realise that there is no other project I want to do. On Your Doorstep, the concept, is still in its infancy; the exhibitions were a start but I know that we haven’t even scratched the surface. So many more people to reach, so many more stories to tell. So what started as a single, small exhibition in a single location is turning into a multi-year vocation. I’m not sure what the next steps look like (suggestions more than welcome) but the thinking has started.
It's not just the project which has grown. Along the way, my photography has evolved too. I started with a single 35mm Nikon camera and along the way have grown into large format photography (currently 4x5 but I’m starting to eye up 8x10 cameras). I’ve come to understand that I'll do my best work if I focus on those things I feel the most passionate about (forests and mountains) and I'm finding my style. My skills in the darkroom have come along in leaps and bounds thanks to workshops with some extraordinary master printers and many hours practicing; there will always be so much more to learn, more printers to work with, more ideas to experiment with but I'm glad I'm making progress.
Photography aside, I’ve also evolved from being a hobbyist (a person who makes images for pleasure) to a professional photographer (a person who makes images for pleasure and has all the added activities of running a business and all the stresses of things like where next month’s rent is going to come from). Although I thought I had a lot of “business” experience, running a fine art photography business is a whole ‘nuther thing. I’ve had to learn about social media, public relations, sourcing funding, networking, sponsorship, location sourcing, website management, graphic design and printing, and so much more. I’ve spent way more time outside my comfort zone than in it! I wouldn't have it any other way.
Our On Your Doorstep journey has been an amazing one so far and it’s only just begun. I feel so privileged to be able to make this journey and whatever shape it takes next year, whatever fork in the road it follows, I can’t wait to see what it brings.