Today was the last day of our Ohio trip. When we started out, a week ago, I summarized the journey to be one with no planning, no management, and no worries of perfection or polish. Seven days of living in complete opposition relative to every other day of my life. Now, as sun begins to set in Erie, Pennsylvania - a stopping-over point between Ohio and home - I can look back and say I succeeded.
In order, the cities we visited were: Manlius, Syracuse, Erie, Andover, Austinburg, Conneaut, Ashtabulta, Cleveland and Beachwood. In total, we drove over a thousand miles, visited more than a dozen friends and relatives, went to two museums, and one zoo. I ran every morning, contemplating the days prior, logging nearly thirty miles for the week. More than two hundred emails came into my work inbox, which I only glanced at periodically on my iPhone, and of which I responded to fewer than ten. On no evening did I have a detailed understanding of what we'd be doing the following day.
My primary objective with The Ohio Diaries project was to shoot photographs every day with a stripped-down, analog style approach. I declared, a priori, that I would not edit any of the images, nor would I adjust them to achieve a certain (or consistant) look. Instead, I kept each image as-shot, and the style that I endeavored to create was done completely in-camera. Am I pleased with the results? Mostly. Am I pleased with my effort? Absolutely.
Why the challenge in the first place? Part of it was simply to elevate my photographic and creative game, but more of it was to test my own definitions of "perfect" and "good" and "unrefined" when it comes to creating. With each set of images from The Ohio Diaries, I wanted desperately to tweak a fair majority of them. Small things, like a minor crop or an exposure adjustment, but I didn't. With each narrative I wrote to accompany the images, I fought with myself over proof-reading before publishing, but like the images themselves, the text remained unedited.
Beneath the images and stories of The Ohio Diaries was the undertow of self-evaluation and contemplation. A concerted effort to break free from the day-to-day and try to observe myself from the outside-in. Maybe it's all a little too philosophical, but I'm a big believer in the power of self-awareness.
Growth, time and change. This journey was rich with instances and observations of each. These three things define our lives, like how our children grow and change with time; like we do too. It's as though we're all traveling across points on a map, but we're traveling through time. And each time we make the trip, the scenery changes (even if only slightly). Still, our efforts to understand ourselves cannot be confined to a single week in time, because we change; we grow. This may feel like the end of The Ohio Diaries - a self-prescribed project I used as an exploratory instrument - but, like everything else, it's only temporary.
Footnotes: All images, unedited JPGs from Fujifilm X-T2 with various lenses.