My Million Steps Photography Project

My Million Steps?

On a long cold walk in early January a random thought popped in my head for a photo project. I wasn’t even wanting to do any kind of “project” this year, this walk was just for exercise and I generally bring my camera on walks. I was trying out an app on my phone counting my steps to keep track of how far I walked.

Somehow out on Picnic Point, it just popped into my head- Walk a million steps this year and put together a collection of the photos you come across on your travels. Standing in the sub-zero windchill I did a couple google searches on my phone with exposed finders. I calculated that it would add up a total of around 500 miles. I would have to make two about 5 miles walks per week all year to reach a million steps. I’ve never had a photo project come totally out of the blue in just a few minutes. It was just such a good idea I just had to do it! So I started right there with photographing my footsteps on frozen Lake Mendota…

photos from around madison for my million steps photography project
Photos from “My Million Steps” project.

This isn’t going to be just me carrying my camera all the time as I walk though the days of the year. The object is to make each walk an active search for photographs. So I can’t just bring my camera with me to the grocery store and count my steps shopping. Each walk I have to be looking for photographs and post at least one to Instagram.

The photos will be diverse and the walks will be diverse. Everything from urban walks around Madison and nature walks on the Ice Age Trail to walking the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The photos will be largely digital but I will throw in some film photos with my Holga and my pinhole cameras. Each walk I have to find at least one photo worthy of posting. Some days will hopefully yield good photos, others I’m sure won’t be so spectacular. That’s the challenge I guess.

At the very least, I’m going to try not to embarrass myself with the posts! If you don’t follow me on Instagram my account is called Around Madtown.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy photographed for my million steps project.
Pheasant Branch Conservancy from “My Million Steps” project.

My Million Steps is similar to a project I did a few years ago I called “Around Madtown” where I biked to State Street in Madison once a week for a year. The challenge was to find something new in each trip to the same street. It was a great exercise in seeing new things in a familiar place. With My Million Steps I am going to travel this year to Arizona and Istanbul to name a few places, there will be a lot of different scenery. Many of the walks will of course be closer to home here in Madison and around Wisconsin.

The forward statue in the Wisconsin Historical Society
I photographed the original “Forward Statue” in the Wisconsin Historical Society building while on a quick warming break on a cold January walk.

Just as we all need to exercise our bodies I think photographers need to exercise our vision. I think it’s important to take photos on a regular basis outside of our “everday work photography” just for the sake of taking photos. Like going to a gym and sweating for no particular reason is important to stay keep in shape.

Not to mention walks are great for your mental health as well! My Million Steps is going to be good for my creative health, my physical health and my mental health. I’m looking forward to the walks and to the images I find.

To see the entire project so far and to follow the progress go to the hashtag #mymillionsteps on Instagram. 

A woman looks at a painting in the Milwaukee art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum from “My Million Steps” project.
More photos from my million steps project
Photos from “My Million Steps” project.

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