Last year, the town where I reside was celebrating its 250th anniversary. At the same time I was kicking around a number of creative projects and looking to push myself more into portrait photography (I gravitate towards nature). Out of some brainstorming and discussions came the 250 People Project. I initially sketched out an idea of how to take 250 portraits of 250 people living in the town at the time of the anniversary. I quickly realized it was an idea that required funding and more creative talent. In short, it was way larger than me.
The project developed into a group effort as a small set of photographers and designers gathered together to take portraits and scenic photos of the area. I had a few rules to guide the project, one being that it was important for the photos to be shot as closely together as possible. I think a sense of time is as important as a sense of place.
To pay for the website, software for the digital book, prints, banners, poster prints for an outdoor gallery show, and publication of a hardcover book, we turned to Kickstarter for crowd source funding. This project would have never happened without the contributions of over 100 people.
We found most subjects to be very willing to participate and while we were meeting with so many people, we also collected stories, quotes, and thoughts from residents on what living in a small town meant to them.
The results of the project can be seen in the form of a digital book that is already out and can be viewed online at www.250people.com. Even more exciting is the arrival of the hardcover edition of the final project which arrived from the printer this week and is now for sale.
This project proved to be major learning experience in how to organize, edit, design, and produce a project of this size. I would do many things the same way while other decisions seem to have been made while my brain was entirely off. Luckily I will be involved in another similar effort as the 250 People Project. This little project has given birth to an even larger effort to continue to document small towns through photography and basic ethnography tools. Stay tuned for announcements on the Why We Stay project. Exciting stuff to follow!