How it began

May 18, 2009

Throughout this year, several people have asked how I decided to make a book. For all those interested, here’s that history.

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide that I wanted to make a book. Instead, it was a gradual progression. Early in 2008, I had been spending progressively more time in Shenandoah National Park cruising Skyline Drive and, in general, just being a tourist. As time went by I began seeing more and more interesting things in my time out there.

After graduation from JMU, I had dedicated most of my time to an independent online news project (I’m big on self-assigned projects) that some of you might have known as The Valley Observer. Since I’m a photographer and a camera always seemed to be attached to my hand, I began using my time in the park to create weather features and then on the side would document as much wildlife as I was able.

After learning about POD (print on demand) publishing, I decided that my next goal should be the production of a book. Wildlife had always been an interest of mine and last May I started announcing my intent to work up the project.

From there things snowballed and I spent more and more time in the park, in the city parks and elsewhere in the Valley. This site didn’t kick up until the end of October, so unfortunately about half of the project is unaccounted for here. The Valley Observer eventually came to an end, but I was able to dedicate myself even more fully to this specific collection of images.

Several excursions a week, and sometimes on the same day, allowed me to expose myself to a variety of unique situations that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

As the project progressed I began throwing other educational tasks into the mix like the idea of eventually registering for an ISBN number and completing the copyright filing process.

Essentially, the project became like a year of grad school. I had majored in Media Arts and Design, concentrating in print journalism. My classes, however, didn’t touch the subject of book production, so I resolved to teach myself.

And that brings us to the present. One year ago it seemed like a far-fetched goal, but now it is a very real thing and will (unless something unexpected happens) be out by month’s end.

So there it is in a nutshell. If you want to pick my brain anymore about this process, ask away.

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