It was ten years ago yesterday that I embarked upon my first 365 day project: exploring the two square miles in the center of the Saint Louis metropolitan area that is known as Forest Park. And what a year it was, even with the relatively mild winter, dipping to a mere 0º F (-18ºC) on January 16, and an unusually cool summer with a high of only 98ºF (37ºC) on August 9. In this glorious year of photographic exploration I covered every single one of Forest Park’s 1270 acres, walked the entire perimeter of the park (a bit over 6 miles) trespassed on both of the golf courses, and met approximately 200 tons of people (figured by an average weight of 200 pounds for 2000 people).
I photographed over 70 species of birds, and encountered bats, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, raccoons, muskrats, mink, and coyotes in the wild. I even spied a beaver in the park, just before the Department of Conservation put him out of commission (beavers are hell on trees, and people pay to have trees planted in the park in memory of their great aunts Matilda and Beulah). I also encountered turtles (of the snapping and red eared sort), crayfish and shellfish, as well as the scaly fish stocked in our lakes by the MDC. There are also spiders galore, and many more members of the phylum Euarthropoda. What I expected to encounter, but failed to find, outside of what is probably the finest zoo in the world (and is free to all visitors) was foxes and deer (they are there, according to other naturalists), and snakes (you bet they reside in the park).
I also made about 64,000 photos. It was quite a task, finding the time every single day to get to the park (even though less than a mile from my house), explore a different part of it, select and edit photos, write a blog entry, and upload everything to my web site. On the average, I spent about 5 hours per day on the project, in between family matters and my paying photographic work (weddings, events and commercial), but it was a great adventure and as the Pixar film UP so eloquently put it, “Adventure is out there!”
So, what are you doing this year? Would you like to improve your photographic skills? Learn to see a familiar place in a new way? Leave your own dull existence in Whereversville and journey to the premier city of the Great American Midwest? Explore America’s most diverse and interesting urban park? Hang with Yours Truly? If you’re waiting for an invitation, THIS IS IT! Check out our upcoming events page for community walks or schedule your own personal tutoring. If you know of a particular event that takes place in Forest Park and would like to share it with the Saint Louis photographic community, let us know.
In the meantime, here are some photos from our first day of Forest Park 2019.