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Photographing 56 unknown natural wonders in the USA, and showing a vision of the next 150 years of conservation in America.
Photographing 58 lesser-known natural wonders across the USA, and showing a vision for the future of conservation in America.
Photographing 58 lesser-known natural wonders across the USA, and showing a vision for the future of conservation in America.
272 backers pledged $22,475 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Undiscovered America

$22,475

272

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)

Stage 1
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 2

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:

National Parks Traveler
National Parks Traveler
National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association
United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association
United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association
CreekLife Blog
CreekLife Blog

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!

-Zack

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.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A sincere THANK YOU and a Digital version of my first book “The National Parks (a visual guide to visiting)”

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A Digital version of the FINISHED BOOK, access to a private Video Diary of the project, and a postcard from the road so you can be part of the journey.
    (PLUS: A digital copy of my first book)

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Your name published on the first page of the book as a ‘Contributor’, and 3 postcards from the road.
    (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, and Video Diary access)

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A signed and numbered 8x10 Print of your choice from this project, and I’ll let you name one of my photos OR I'll name a photo from the journey after you (that may be shown at galleries). (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, and 3 postcards)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Signed, Paperback version of the FINISHED BOOK. (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, and a signed 8x10 Print)

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    43 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    {INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING}
    Signed, Paperback version of the FINISHED BOOK. (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, a photo named after you, and a signed 8x10 Print)

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    3 signed and numbered 8x10 Prints of your choice from this project.
    (PLUS: A signed Paperback version of the finished book, Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, and a signed 8x10 Print)

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Limited Edition, signed, Hardcover version of the book with a custom, handwritten story from the trip just for you.
    (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Limited Edition, signed, Hardcover version of the book with a custom, handwritten story from the trip just for you. (PLUS: Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    3 signed and numbered, 16x20 Prints of your choice from this project, and a private Skype conversation.
    (PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, PDF copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, and 3 8x10 Prints)

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    A 1-day guided tour of any National Park or location featured in the book [Lower 48 states only, and you have to arrange your own travel]
    (PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, digital copies of the book, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, 3 signed 16x20 Prints and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    I'll mail you a signed, framed print from my first gallery show, and make you a private thank you video!
    PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, 3 signed 16x20 Prints and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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  13. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    I will photograph any place you want [Lower 48 states only] and give you the digital files and rights to all of the images, as well as 5 one of a kind 16x20 signed prints.
    (PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, 3 signed 16x20 Prints and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Become an 'Official Sponsor' of this project and appear in the book, at the beginning of the video diaries, and in updates for the duration of the project.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    I’ll fly you and a friend out to the first exhibition opening, where you'll be my guests of honor! [Lower 48 states only]
    (PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, 3 signed 16x20 Prints and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    A "Presented By" credit on the cover of my book, in your name.
    (PLUS: Hardcover version of the book, Digital copies of both books, Video Diary access, 3 postcards, a photo named after you, 3 signed 16x20 Prints and 3 signed 8x10 Prints)

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Funding period

- (33 days)