SuburbanExpedition Instagram Project
SuburbanExpedition is a photographic exploration and physical fitness project. The series of daily photos features a 10,000-mile walk over seven years around the suburbs near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which I'll document with a smartphone and share on Instagram. In its latest stage, the project will be monetized, with all proceeds going to charity.

Time, Distance, Destination
My goal is to walk around streets, parks and trails in Milwaukee and its various Wisconsin suburbs until I've walked a total of 10,000 miles. I plan to reach this goal on May 15, 2021, my 65th birthday. I began this daily Suburban Expedition on March 31, 2014, and so far, I've walked more than 6,700 miles (as of July, 2018).

On each daily walk  — between 3 and 7 miles long — I'm shooting mostly landscape and nature photos, occasionally recording video, and sometimes broadcasting live video. Then, I publish one photo or video per week on social media site Instagram. 

The end result is SuburbanExpedition, an Instagram series with one episodic photo or video published each week. Each episode acts as a microrelaxation opportunity that can be quickly read and viewed by visitors in a few as five minutes. It will serve the purpose of Hemingway's "Clean and Well-Lighted Place" — a brief respite from everyday stresses and an escape from ordinary routines.

On these walks, I carry all my camera equipment in my pocket, while attempting to create photos whose quality approaches that of a DSLR. I'm using the lightest, most versatile, powerful and mobile photo hardware and software tools currently available, all currently revolving around an iPhone X. I'll occasionally bring along additional items, such as Moment lenses and various small tripods and stabilization equipment. 

For image editing, I'm continuing the mobile theme by using only iOS apps. Those include Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Mobile, Google SnapSeed and Adobe Photoshop Express, along with additional iOS apps, and accessories as they become available. 

As proof of distance walked, I'm using the GPS fitness tracker Nike Run Club for iOS, augmented with an Apple Watch for easy live updates of time/distance/heartrate, and backup using the Apple Watch's step-tracking capability. All times and distances are recorded and maintained by servers that are part of the Nike Run Club app and website, and are accessible online.

Future technology will also come into play. This includes (but is not limited to) new iPhone hardware, drones with cameras on board, augmented reality/virtual reality technology and other devices that haven't been invented or are not yet practical but will be available within the next four years.

Content Rubric/Photographic Language
The photos are intended to be high-impact and dazzling, enhanced with filters and image enhancement techniques in the original spirit of Instagram. I use filters and mobile image editing apps as Ansel Adams used the darkroom. He said, “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” 

Updated for this Suburban Expedition, the high-resolution digital photos in their raw form are the negatives, and the online medium of Instagram is the print. I aim to go as far as I dare with these photographs in their final edited form, hopefully before falling into the realm of garish overuse and bad taste. 

My content guidelines feature the sun (a crowdpleaser) in about 75% of shots, but relegate it to a hiding or slightly visible role if it appears more than 75% of the time in any given week. 

Subtexts: I show technology in the shot, subliminally. Examples include jet contrails, a glint of a car, juxtaposition of tech and nature — all reminding viewers that for a minute, they've escaped from society ... but it's still there even if they try to escape (that's related to my absurdist worldview). 

In the spirit of Instagram, I lean toward publishing the photos in a square or vertical format, but I offer variety of aspect ratios in my feed.

Yes: Usually include the walking path, sidewalk or street in the shot. Always sharp, colorful, emotional
Use, but sparingly: park objects such as benches, playground stuff, "Milwaukee Harp Lamps" in parks
No: cliché photos, obnoxious items or divisive topics. That means no glorification of alcohol or drugs, raindrops on a window, food, an airplane wing in the foreground, Snapchat animal noses, coffee/latte doodles, fire hydrants, huge butts, hate/racism, selfies, posed shots, text, accidental out-of-focus shots, churches/religion.

Each photo is accompanied by a short caption that can be either poetry or prose, written in a brief and sometimes vague style that can be anywhere from informative to obtuse to romantic, and usually upbeat and optimistic. The captions often include information that's directly or tangentially related to the photo. 

The captions stress peace, love and tolerance, the pleasure of walking for fitness, and pay homage to the many wild animals that are abundant and coexisting with us in our suburban environment. They emphasize the ideas that the sun is life, that we are made of star stuff, and that the seasons are beautiful and diverse. All support and confirm the idea that the sun is a symbol of the interconnectedness of all forms of life in the universe.

Final Destination
Created to maximize "likes" and followership, once I've reached the final year of my expedition, I will attempt to monetize the site for charity, persuading visitors to pledge small amounts of money for each mile I walk toward my 10,000-mile goal. In addition, prints of all photos will be offered for sale by a charitable consignment gallery I'll be partnering with. All proceeds will be donated to a charity that's yet to be determined — one that is, a) relevant in the year 2020-2021, and b) one that everyone can believe in and will be eager to support.  
Examples of photography (all photos and text ©2018 Charles T. White, all rights reserved):
The leading edge of danger is rarely so obvious
Lake's reflection reveals earth, wind, fire and water
Amber waves of grain
Quiet stillness outside instills quiet stillness reflecting within
Reflecting on your experiences often doesn't reveal the same reflection others see
Time runs like the river, softening its perspectives if you experience it long enough
The sun is really photobombing this shot of trees
Persistence: Given enough time, a few drops of water can turn into an ocean
Reach up as far as you can, but keep your feet on solid ground
Find your own vanishing point — it might be farther away than you think
Fire dances on the water like nobody's watching
Someone was walking around here last night, but who and why?
Even the biggest, oldest tree in town — the granddaddy of them all — is not too old to grow in an unusual direction
The gate is straight 
Deep and wide 
Break on through to the other side
                                     - The Doors
There's only one set of footprints in this snow
Six pines all lined up for their portrait, sun photobombs them ... again
Like life itself, rainwalks have their own set of charms and drawbacks
Winding road leads to your door
If we don't plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things
                                                                           - Maya Angelou
Mysterious rainbow ring around the sun portends peculiar things to come
Hidden pond is a microcosm of spring emerging
It's easy to stare at the sun when it gets down low
SuburbanExpedition Instagram Project

SuburbanExpedition Instagram Project

SuburbanExpedition: I walk every day and take pics along the way. My goal is to walk around my village of Germantown, Wisconsin and surrounding t Read more


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