What do you mean you spent 6-months taking pictures in the rain?!?
Muddy Branch Tributary - Lots of Rain Drops

What do you mean you spent 6-months taking pictures in the rain?!?

A tributary to the Potomac River, the Muddy Branch Tributary, is highly susceptible to stormwater runoff
Muddy Branch Tributary – Lots of Rain Drops.

OK, see … I can explain. It’s not that I was just photographing raindrops although technically there were raindrops being photographed. It’s kind of complicated…maybe you could just give me a minute to explain.

Last January I found myself a little frustrated with my photography. Sure I had some success with my images but it seems my images of wildlife, landscapes, and nature in the Potomac watershed lacked consistency. They seemed disjointed like a different person was taking each picture.

Why not try a photo essay?

I decided that I needed a longer-term project to focus my work upon. That would make it easier to build a more cohesive body of work. I had already spent much of my time focusing on the Potomac River. In retrospect, I should have spent a little more time vetting the options, but I decided to go upstream from the Potomac River and focus on one of its tributaries. I would put together a series of images depicting the beauty of the stream, threats to the health of the stream and people enjoying the environment around the stream. It would be a photo series or an essay that helps connect people in the area to the stream with an overall focus on the conservation of resources tied to the stream.

Frequent floods on the Muddy Branch Tributary wash out the soil from the trees, leaving the tree roots exposed
Years of Flooding Leave Exposed Tree Roots.

Slow to Pivot

I guess it was a good idea, but it seems that every time I went out to get images, the stream was flooded or just recovering from being flooded. And there was garbage washed up on the stream banks every time I went out. I could not get an image depicting the beauty of the stream because there was always trash in the shot!

Suburban stormwater runoff washes chemicals and trash into our streams, including this half buried child's playhouse
Playhouse Washed Downstream by Stormwater Runoff.

This went on for four to five months when it hit me, this photo essay wasn’t just about this stream, but about why the stream is frequently flooding. And while rain was a key factor, there’s more to it than that. So yes, I spent much of the remaining 6 months of 2019 photographing in the rain. But if you really want to hear the whole story, you have to head over to my Suburban Stormwater Runoff Project page!

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