About this project
I launched this project to help fund a 6-month photography trip that will result in a 200 page, landscape photography book titled “Undiscovered America”. The book will feature images of 56 unknown natural landscapes across the United States that could become future National Parks.
If successful, I would be the first professional photographer to photograph almost all of these sites as if they were National Parks. The vast majority of pro photographers only shoot places you know well (e.g. Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon) because they know they can make money off them.
All of the photos on this page were taken by me as I quickly traveled through a handful of these unknown areas. With your help, I can spend the days/week photographing them that they obviously deserve.
If this project is a success, I’ll leave immediately to photograph the landscapes in the northeast, but the rest of the trip would begin in spring 2015. On the maps below you can see the route and locations (click on them for interactive versions)
To keep costs down while traveling, I would camp most nights and avoid cities as much as possible. For some people this adventure might seem crazy but as a Marine Corps veteran, hiker and avid traveler I have the training and experience to accomplish this goal.
After photographing all of the sites I would assemble an 8x10 inch, 200 page photography book and distribute it as an ebook in Kindle, iBooks, and PDF formats, as well as in limited printings made primarily for you, the backers. Right now, the plan is to self-publish the book, but I am looking for publishers.
Along side the photos, the book would contain brief histories of the locations, information on how to visit them, and selected interviews with conservation groups trying to preserve them. I’ve already conducted interviews with groups like 'RESTORE: The North Woods' and 'Friends of Blackwater' that are trying to preserve these sites, and I will be reaching out to other groups as well.
Over the last 7 years I’ve been researching these unknown natural landscapes and the major difference between these places and the National Parks is that these areas weren’t lucky enough to be championed by people like John Muir, Timothy O’Sullivan or Ansel Adams. As a result they’ve gone overlooked by most artists and travelers. Fortunately, it’s not too late to give these locations the attention they deserve before they end up overly commercialized like Niagara Falls or destroyed like West Virginia's eroded mountaintops.
The locations range from privately owned lands and American Indian reservations to state preserves and lesser-known Department of the Interior sites. The environments include: the deepest canyon in the United States (deeper than the Grand Canyon), a second Yosemite in the mountains of Wyoming, the greatest undeveloped wilderness in the east, the largest remaining natural habitat in the Great Plains, canyons carved out of the painted desert, caves, badlands, mountains, forests, wetlands and much more.
The money you pledge would be spent on basic supplies like food, water, gasoline, and camping fees... not to mention the rewards:
- The finished book “Undiscovered America”
- My first book “The National Parks (a visual guide to visiting)”
- A regularly updated video diary of the trip
- Signed photography prints
- Postcards from the road
- Meeting you along the way
- Guided tours of scenic wonders
- An official sponsorship for this entire project
If this project reaches its goal, it would be the most successful project in the 'Nature' Photography category in Kickstarter history!
As I mentioned in the video (if this project reaches the funding goal) I have agreements to show my work at art galleries across the country. This traveling show would give people a chance to meet me in person, and give people all over America the opportunity to see landscapes they never knew were there.
Feel free to contact me for interviews, blog posts, Reddit AMA's or podcast requests, I’ll do anything to spread the word of this project. So far 'Undiscovered America' has been featured on the following:
Please considering backing this project because it can’t succeed without your support! If you can’t pledge any money, you can help by telling others about this campaign on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Reddit. Feel free to leave questions or comments, and thank you very much!
Risks and challenges
MY JOB: If this project is successful I may have to leave my comfortable job. I'm hopeful they will let me take time off to accomplish this trip, but if not I'm prepared to accept the risks of this project. (THIS IS AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST ENDEAVOR AND NOT ASSOCIATED WITH SMITHSONIAN)
THE TRIP: Odds are that any challenges would result from everyday bad luck: car issues, bad weather, or maybe even injuries (basically things that could happen anytime, even if I didn’t go on this adventure). I’ve traveled all my life, so I don't expect major issues there.
REWARDS: I'm a photographer and author with experience making prints and publishing, so I anticipate the rewards process would go fairly smoothly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, you can find them in Update 2, at the top of the page, or by clicking here:
My goal is to photograph places that could become future 'National Parks' alongside Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains. The problem in the midwest is that much of the land has been altered beyond recovery, and it's less dynamic than other parts of the country. I am considering adding sites to my trip and am focusing on the Driftless Rivers area of Wisconsin/Iowa, Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas, and the Sheyenne grasslands of North Dakota. If you know of anywhere else in the midwest I should look into I welcome your suggestions!
I have collaborated with the National Parks Conservation Association in the See America poster campaign, and will be donating use of my images to the NPCA, National Park Foundation, National Park Service and any other parks related groups that would use them to further the parks.
Can't get an advance from the publisher? Better we should pay for your trip so you can sell your book?
Actually, the way Kickstarter works, it makes it a group project. When people pledge money they get rewards, like: limited editions of my books, photography prints, postcards from the road, meet-ups with me along the trip, and invitations to art galleries showcasing my work. It allows people to take a more personal role in the trip and creation of these items. I'm also donating the use of the images that would result from this trip to conservation groups trying to protect these areas. In fact, after travel expenses, Kickstarter's fees, and reward fulfillment I anticipate the project costing more than my $20,000 goal.
Yes, I do! If my project is successful I will gladly distribute the map to everyone who wants it, but for now I have to protect my project, because if it fails someone could relaunch it as their own.
Thank you for your service! I was wondering if you did any photography work when you were at the Marine Corps?
Yes, and you can see some of my photos that were released for the public here: http://zackfrankphotography.com/released_images
Because of the dimensions and weight of the rewards, as well as the price of shipping it overseas from the United States. I have family who work for the Postal Service so I have expert guidance in what shipping should be to cover every country on the planet. I wish it didn't have to be so expensive, sorry.
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