© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY
Amateur photographer Lori Shaw was out and about on P.E.I. last year for her personal 365-day project to photograph the Island on a day-by-day basis.
One P.E.I. woman’s photo project was a year in the taking.
A relative newcomer to the Island, amateur photographer Lori Shaw of Millcove decided that the best way to explore her adopted home was to document its scenic beauty in all of its 365 days of glory.
“I love the Island. I just find that everywhere I look is a postcard moment: summer, fall, winter, spring,” says Shaw, whose daily postings on her Shaw Photography Facebook page have gained a loyal following.
Originally from Montreal, in 2007 Shaw moved to P.E.I., which is her husband Stephen Shaw’s home province.
“I fell in love with the Island and always took pictures when I was visiting (before that) but just with a cheap camera,” she remembers.
Things really got moving after her husband gave her a compact but functional Fujifilm FinePix S 14 mega-pixel camera that had a few more features that allowed her to get a bit more creative with her images.
“I’d seen that some people had done (yearlong) projects, so I wondered if I could showcase the Island . . . .” remembers Shaw, who in January 2013 ventured outdoors to start the first of her 12-month focus on lighthouses, abandoned structures, sunsets, seascapes, landscapes and more.
“I have trouble sticking (to projects) so I didn’t know how it was going to go. Having to go back every day and post was going to be a challenge in itself for 365 days. I can’t do anything for 365 days except waking up in the morning and having my coffee,” she adds, laughing.
“But then I started to notice that people were commenting (online). It’s funny because it started off so slow at the beginning – the views and likes. . . . It’s just kind of been going up because you reach people on the Island and you reach people from away also . . . who say, ‘Oh I’ve been to that place!’ So that’s been neat, being able to interact with people.”
An offshoot from some photo postings is the short online conversations.
“The interaction (spurred me on); myself learning things and other people appreciating them and looking at it from a different point of view. I had posted a picture of a house and someone said, ‘I grew up in that house. I have great memories of it.’ I like the conversations that it sparks,” she says.
Weather, of course, was a photo shoot factor, especially in the winter months.
“All I wanted to do was take pictures, but your toes freeze, your face freezes . . . and you’re crying (from the cold), so I can’t even see what I’m taking. I’m going to have to buy goggles!” she laughs.
But sometimes weather systems themselves and their byproducts, such as thick fog or hazy mist, or a harbinger of weather to come, like a brilliant red sunset, become the images.
“I love nature and I just find you get to see it here . . . ,” says Shaw, who for much of the spring used her sister-in-law’s Canon Rebel that had a telephoto lens, which opened up even more shooting opportunities.
“It was fun and it was challenging (heading out) because it was always, ‘Which way do I go? Where am I going? What beach? Am I going on a trail? Do I want trees? Do I want water? What do I want?’ Even I would have trouble figuring out what I was going to take pictures of because nothing would ever really be fully planned,” she says.
There were a few missed days along the calendar way, but Shaw quickly returned to her personal photo project, one bonus of which was the ability to go back and see the evolution of her style and technique over the year.
“It helped me grow in a way that I know that it’s something that I’d like to continue with,” she says.
Now that her 365-day photo focus on P.E.I. is done, Shaw is paring her picture posting down to a more manageable weekly schedule. She is now expanding her sights to P.E.I. lighthouses, vowing to get to each and every one before the year is out. She also has her heart set on upgrading to a camera with changeable lenses.
Looking back, Shaw is glad to have ventured on her yearlong photographic journey of Prince Edward Island discovery.
“Obviously I know I’m not a professional photographer, but it’s nice to know that my little amateur shots . . . are appreciated by someone,” she says. “It just kind of gives you that pat on the back. You’re doing something and they’re liking it.”