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I've shot all 850+ dots on the map of North Dakota, and now I want to photograph some of the tiniest places in the big open west.
I've shot all 850+ dots on the map of North Dakota, and now I want to photograph some of the tiniest places in the big open west.
122 backers pledged $8,604 to help bring this project to life.

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Ten years later

Brocket, North Dakota

Ten years ago this weekend I fell in love with photography, small places, and beautiful October sunlight. On Sunday, October 5, 2003, I visited Arvilla, Larimore, Hannah Jct, McCanna, Shawnee, Niagara, Petersburg (seen below), Michigan, Mapes, Lakota, Brocket (seen above), and Lawton, North Dakota. This was the start of what turned out to be a 10-year odyssey. Since that weekend, I've driven 135,240 miles, visited 876 places in North Dakota, and shot 52,483 photos.

Old keystone-shaped yellow yield sign, Petersburg, North Dakota

This summer, I sifted through those photos to pick out one photo for each of those 876 places. I went through about 85 packs (100 sheets each) of double-sided 180gsm glossy inkjet paper, and close to a gallon of ink printing the 16,682 pages to make 19 copies of North Dakota: Every Dot on the Map.

The Places

Sardis Sardis, North Dakota

Those 876 places include every named place in the Delorme atlas of North Dakota (based on 1972 USGS topographic maps). Also included are some places not found on those maps like Sardis (seen above) and Hong (seen below). Sardis was a new "discovery" I made this summer, looking at railroad maps. Like many of these 876 places, it's a railroad station, probably never really big enough to be called a village or town. Yet Sardis is the only place I've found in North Dakota that's a distinct named place with buildings and a sign on the railroad, yet not found on any of the regular maps I used. After visiting 875 other places, I was ecstatic (yes, really!) finding this unique bonus place to top off this 10-year project.

Hong, North Dakota

The Books

Getting ready to send books to the bindery

I printed all the pages myself, on an Epson Artisan 835 inkjet printer, with third-party external ink tanks. There is only one paper I found acceptable for this job, and strange though it may sound, it's Office Depot Premium Brochure and Flyer Paper. Regular photo paper is too heavy and is single-sided, and other inkjet papers have duller surfaces that just can't reproduce the amazing bright colors of North Dakota. (HP used to sell a wonderful brochure paper that I used to print a previous book, but they now sell a paper that has a much duller finish under the same name.) And color laser printing has become quite good, but it still can't match the depth and brightness of inkjet -- and hence why I printed all 16,682 pages with ink, leading to many, many cases of "unicorn hands" over the past month.

I ended up being able to get the books professionally hardbound into single volumes, so yes, each will look and feel like an alphabetized photographic dictionary of North Dakota. They're at Phil's Custom Bindery in Seattle now, and current plans are to have them back and be able to start shipping them out in just over a week.

The Backers

I want to again thank every one of the 123 awesome people from Fargo to Malmö who participated in this Kickstarter! And thanks to all of those who sent wonderfully kind comments. I want to especially thank all those who have been waiting so patiently for their own copy of North Dakota: Every Dot on the Map -- your copy is coming soon!

A few re-shoots, then printing the big book!

Hey, backers! I'm just finishing up work on the big North Dakota book. I've been through tens of thousands of photos, and I've picked one for every dot in North Dakota. Some of the shots in towns in the Red River Valley were shot on grey, cloudy days. But beautiful blue skies just make for much better photos, so I'm heading back while the sun shines for one last shoot!

After I get back, I'll be printing the big big book of 866 places for all of the awesome people who contributed at the $250+ level. It's going to be big, and it'll be bound in a non-permanent way that will let you pull out photos for framing. More details will follow after this shooting trip.

Thanks again everyone!

Launch party in Seattle this Wednesday

Buttons, prints, maps, and the Small Places book are printed and ready to go out by mail. If you're in Seattle and would like to pick up your rewards, come to Metrix Create Space this Wednesday (Dec 12) from 8pm to midnight. You can pick up your reward, have some food and drink, and enjoy all of the crazy fun that Metrix Create Space has to offer.

  • Launch Party!
  • 8pm to Midnight, Wednesday, December 12
  • Metrix Create Space
  • 623 Broadway East
  • Seattle, WA

Postcards sent. Books, prints, maps, buttons coming soon.

Postcards. Postcards are on their way to everyone whose rewards included a postcard. I mailed them from Tokeland, Washington, a tiny spot on the north side of Willapa Bay on the edge of the Pacific. (I'd been planning to mail them from eastern Oregon, but the weather hasn't been too cooperative lately.)

Books. The Small Places books have been printed, and I will start shipping them out shortly.

Map. The Small Places map is ready to go and should be printed this week. If your reward includes the map and you would like a particular state rather than the map seen above, let me know.

Prints and buttons. Photos will be printed and buttons will be made this week. This puts me ahead of schedule, and means that I can probably have things delivered before Christmas. If you need your reward delivered before Christmas, let me know and I will do my best to ensure that it is.

Special requests. I plan on selecting an assortment of some of my best photos for printing. If you want a particular photo (or a just photo from a particular state) as your print or button, please let me know as soon as possible.

Local pickup. If you're in Seattle and would like to pick up your reward locally, there will be a small launch party. Date and details will follow in another update.

Thanks again, everyone!


New photos! And less than 72 hours to go!

First off, thanks to everyone who's contributed. My $5,000 goal has been met and exceeded! For anyone out there who still wants to get the limited edition Small Places book or any of the other rewards, you've still got a couple days -- the Kickstarter runs until 7:38 PM PDT on Thursday, October 25th. Contributing helps me get out and photograph even more small places!

I've already been out photographing (hey, I'm an optimist with a credit card!) and I've photographed some of the smallest of small places in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. I've visited Dalesburg, South Dakota, for example, which consists of a feed store (and a church about a mile away):

And Swan Lake, Idaho, home to a real mercantile store (with post office in back):

And Gross, Nebraska, population 2:

And Jelen, Nebraska, home to a Czech National Cemetery:

And Wayside, Nebraska, home to the former Wayside School (not the one from the kid's book!):

And Huston, Idaho, with the ruins of a brick school building:

And Lime, Oregon, with an old concrete school building and a partially-demolished concrete plant that looks like post-apocalyptic video game scenery:

And many more places, too. Check out my flickr sets to see what's new.

Thanks again to everyone who's helped to make this happen!