In 1998 Jim Brandenburg published “Chased by the Light,” a photographic essay spanning the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. Burdened by his prior success and fearing a creative rut the artist/photographer was searching for a way to reignite his passion. Like a disciplined Zen master seeking to live in the moment, Brandenburg challenged himself to document a north woods fall by making only one photograph a day. Shooting in the pre-digital era, this meant getting it right in camera with each squeeze of the shutter.
Five years later Brandenburg released “Looking for Summer.” Much like “the 90-day project,” this was an exercise in vision and patience. While having survived his self imposed “one-a-day” rule, in this exploration of summer Brandenburg modified the prior model by shooting every day and selecting one “best” from the set. In the shadow of “Chased by the Light,” this project was also about revealing the changes in light and life as a season progresses.
In April 2016 National Geographic published the latest in Brandenburg’s quest to document the phenological changes of his Minnesota home. Titled “93-Days of Spring,” the article includes the largest number of images by a single photographer published in one issue. As with the prior seasonal projects, this is a modification of the original meme. Shooting every day and selecting bests from the set, this time Jim included photos from each ecological region in the state. Still shooting like the kid he once was, at age 70 the current project reflects the life of a man who has lived behind a camera. Brandenburg’s impeccable timing, willingness to shoot unconventional compositions and capacity to find the right subject continues to amaze this fan.
Channeling the wizened master, this gallery is my modification of the “one-a-day” model. While I’d like nothing more than to shoot each day, teaching is my calling and photography is my pastime. Relegated to weekend warrior and after hours opportunities, this is as close as I can get to shooting every day during a school year. With the exception of a brief excursion to southeast Minnesota, the photographs presented are “selects” from a day’s outing only miles from my St. Croix Valley home. I'm no Brandenburg, but I feel his influence every time I raise the camera to my eye.
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