The Mylio Grant – Jennifer Meyers – Logan, Utah
Grant amount $2,500
What Remains: Forgotten Homesteads of the American West
Thank you for choosing my proposal, What Remains: Forgotten Homesteads of the American West for the Mylio Grant. I applied for this grant to help propel me into a documentary project that I’ve wanted to pursue for many years. I have always been curious about old abandoned homes that seem to emerge from deserted landscapes in the outskirts of the modern west.
My goal was to document not only abandoned homes and structures that were built by original pioneers and homesteaders. Receiving a grant for the project helped put wheels into motion through financial support for the time and travel required.
I started this project by researching areas within driving distance of my home in Northern Utah and compiling a list of professionals and history enthusiasts who could provide information and advice. Our meetings took place at locations throughout Utah and Idaho. Even after long drives to meet with history experts and local residents, I was surprised that the majority of time spent on this project involved online and library research.
The biggest challenge I faced, in fact, was finding information about places to photograph that met my criteria for the project. I didn’t realize at the start of the project, but the level of desertion in these homes corresponded equally to the amount of information about them. Also, a lot of homes that did have information had some level of alteration made to them as they often were not abandoned immediately after the original pioneers constructed them. I tried to stick with the most original structures that still had known information and history attached to them.
I used the Mylio Grant funding for transportation and lodging costs. I’m happy with the outcome that the grant and am now planning the next steps in this major project. To properly tackle a project of this scale, I anticipate continuing the work in future phases. The first year was essentially locating the properties and conducting initial research, followed by preliminary shoots. I anticipate the additional phases will require five or more years to complete. While I realize that my project has become bigger than my original intent, I’m happy that this grant has helped create a recurring cycle of energy and interest that can be purposefully funneled into my biggest passion: photography.
My advice for other photographers interested in pursuing personal projects is to jump in and go for it. For me, personal projects are important for many reasons. A project defined and executed solely by you and your interests brings you back to what got you interested in photography in the first place. There are no clients, art directors, or managers defining what your imagery should look like. Whether you work as a professional photographer or as an avid hobbyist, it’s easy to lose sight… photography
Especially so when your work doesn’t push your capabilities or bring a sense of satisfaction. A personal project can have a reverse effect by bringing with it the kind of joy that comes when you indulge your curiosity and challenge the imagination.
The equipment I used was minimal. My bag included a Canon 6D, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, and a tripod.
You can see more of my work here.