This summer I took on an Instagram project. I decided I would post a photo a day for the entire summer. I started on June 21st, the summer solstice and official first day of the season. From there, I more or less stuck to the plan. There where times I fell behind and times I posted extra photos to catch up, but I ended up posting the 93rd and final photo on September 23rd, the first day of Fall. I originally planned to take 93 photos because I erroneously believed that the Autumnal Equinox was on September 21st, leaving 93 days of summer. By the time I realized that the first day of fall moves around, and that it fell on the 23rd this year, I already had a hashtag and was locked into my plan.
Now that the project is done, I’ve decided to collect the 10 (technically 11 because there was a tie for tenth) photos that received the most likes and give a little background on each.
10. (tied) “Just strap me to the golf cart.”
This was a summer on the road. I took my camera to all kinds of weird places on all kinds of odd vehicles including a pontoon boat, a canoe, a gondola, 2 different speedboats, a paddle boat, a military Humvee, a tank, a front-end loader, a convertible, 2 different golf carts, 2 different types of go karts, a wagon, a surrey, a sail boat, a horse-drawn carriage, a Cessna airplane, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. This shot was taken on the golf course at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd. We were shooting a television spot for Explore Minnesota Tourism.
10. (tied) “Lunch with Paul Bunyan”
This was on the same shoot up in Brainerd. I borrowed this lunch pail from the six year old in the family we were shooting. The crew was already on their way to the production van, so I only got one shot at it. Wouldn’t you know the big guy blinked.
9. “Justin Sound of Music-ing”
Glacier National Park is a ridiculous place. Between blisters and muscular exhaustion, I spent most of my time there in a fairly significant amount of pain, but I loved it. Hiking through these wildflower gardens with my friend Justin Huelman, I couldn’t help but think of the iconic shot from The Sound of Music. Unfortunately, this inevitably led to the embarrassing revelation that I have never seen The Sound of Music, which the rest of the group assured me is tantamount to being a Nazi sympathizer.
8. “Reflections on the Mississippi”
After unrelenting floods this spring, we ended up with a relatively dry summer, so the Mississippi had a gentle glassy flow when Anna and I ventured across the Central Avenue Bridge on a late August evening.
7. “Giant Walleye in Garrison”
I never spent much time on the northern stretch of Highway 169 growing up. We’d take 94 or Highway 10 further west to go to our cabin, and I’d spent time along the North Shore and the Boundary Waters, but I’ve traveled up and down from the Brainerd area a lot over the last few years, and I’ve really warmed to it. Garrison stumbles upon you at the northeastern edge of Mille Lacs to let you know its time to turn off. We had the perfect light when we came through on our way back from our Explore Minnesota shoot, and I got to grab a shot of their iconic Walleye Sculpture. Explore Minnesota also featured it as one of their “Pics of the week” on their feed.
6. “State Fair”
The Minnesota State Fair at night is a glowing, neon, photographic dreamworld. It’s definitely a place I’ve found some magic in the past, and it never disappoints.
5. “Red Eagle Lake”
Another one from Glacier National Park. The beauty of this place boggles the mind. This was on the north edge of Red Eagle Lake, across the water from our campsite. It was nearing the end of a seemingly endless day of hiking. I was floundering, struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but the spectacle just kept getting more impressive. Physically, it was agonizing to climb the extra twenty or so feet to the top of a ridge to take this shot, but damn was it worth it.
4. “All-Star Game Fireworks”
This shot was taken the night I got back from Glacier. I actually had a shoot for Explore Minnesota the day we got back. The trip had been the most physically demanding thing I had ever done. I had pushed my muscles far past the point of exhaustion. They had taken to cramping and spasming on the trail, and we ended our last hike day by climbing immediately into a car and driving for 19 hours. Every muscle in my lower body locked up. Within two hours of arriving in Minneapolis, I had to be at the office to leave for a shoot in Northfield. I couldn’t properly walk at the shoot, but I stumbled my way through it. I had my producer take me back to the office so I could drop off the gear. As I went to shuffle home, I heard fireworks, so I went back in the building and took the elevator to the roof. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game festivities were kicking off, and I had a great spot to watch the opening fireworks.
3. “Triple Divide Pass”
This is a picture of me not taking a picture of Dave Roy. Apparently the altitude and exhaustion were affecting me more than I realized at the time. My friend Dave asked me to take a picture of him, and when we got to the bottom, I realized that I never did. I also neglected to take any video at the highest point we climbed to on our trip, so if I ever get around to editing together a video from the footage I took, this spectacular view won’t be in it because I lost my mind up there.
2. “The Gallery Wall”
Anna always wanted to make a gallery wall. We talked about doing it when we lived in the house, but it just didn’t seem worth it. By the time we started talking seriously about it, neither of us wanted to live there any more, and with one foot out the door, that level of decorating didn’t seem worth it. When we moved into the new apartment, it became a priority. I offered to take photos of the different art objects we’d collected and make a simulator in Photoshop where she could move things around and try out different combinations and compositions. It wasn’t until I had the meticulously layered Photoshop file that I had the epiphany, “I could take this into After Effects and animate it!”. A few hours, and a lot of mouth-made sound effects, later I had this gem.
1. “Skydiving Plane”
About to go up in a skydiving plane! Hope this isn’t my last tweet!
— Carl G Martin (@carlgmartin) July 31, 2014
I still can’t quite believe this happened. We were out shooting for Explore Minnesota Tourism, and we had planned a trip to Southern Minnesota Skydiving in Waseca to film our actresses suiting up in skydiving gear. The idea was then to use a stock footage clip of a woman sky diving in place of our talent.
When we arrived, our actress reacted in terror to even looking at the plane. Without provocation she said she would never get in the plane, even on the ground. But then our dauntless writer Lisa (Lucas) Hall made some voodoo magical pitch about it being a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our actress paused. She considered it. And she said, “What the hell. I turn forty this year. I’m going skydiving!” I was strapped into a parachute of my own (in case of emergency), secured to the inside of the plane, and we took off. It was a surreal experience. I’d never been in an airplane where they get two miles up the in air and open the door. Our actress and the instructor were there. And then they were gone.
And it made the whole commercial work. (You can watch it, here.)
For those of you that followed along this summer, thank you! If this is the first you’ve seen of my Instagram photos, check out my current photos in the slideshow on the right column and think about following!
Finally, for the sake of completeness, here is the least liked photo from the project, #fatspiderman.