Waking up in Berks County

Danielle Nuhfer in Reading, Pennsylvania is creating Waking up in Berks County. She explains, "My project is a photo project where I take one picture/day of anything that is in Berks County.  It doesn't have to be a specific thing, it just has to be something that lives, breathes or is located in the fine place where I live."...

Why did you decide to do this project? I decided to do this project because Reading, PA was deemed the country's most poverty-stricken city in the United States in 2011.   I started to get very concerned that all of these things were going on around me, yet I had no real perception that this was the case nor was I doing anything to help the community.

I was ashamed that I lived a moderately comfortable life, completely oblivious that I was living within a community that was among the poorest in the country.  I was so desensitized to my own surroundings that I didn't even recognize all the pain in my very back yard.  This really shook me.  I realized that I was not living a very present life.  So, my project has a two-fold purpose. First,  I am using it to make sure that I make an attempt to stay present in my daily life.  By taking a picture every day of the world around me, I am forced to stop all those things I THINK are important and wake up to reality.  Second, it is helping me to see the reality of the world I live in.  I am able to capture the beautiful, the mundane, the ugly and everything in between.  Only from a place of presence will I be able to move forward and give back to this community that I have called home for over half of my life.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? Well, I'm only in the second month and it has been really interesting.  I am learning that eventually every day something will inspire me to take a photograph but I sometimes I need to look for those opportunities.  The first few days were simple but then I started to run out of those BIG things to capture.  I made a promise that I was going to try to conduct my life as naturally as possible and not go driving all over the countryside to take a picture from various remote locations every day.  I wanted to stay true to reality...not what I create for a blogging/project opportunity.  So, I have settled in and taking a picture is something I do every day.  I'm not completely consistent with the uploads, but behind the scenes the pictures are being taken and the information is being logged.  One thing that I love is that my eyes have a new purpose, there is a heightened sense of duty.   One day at a time I am becoming active and invested in my life....all through taking a picture.

This seemingly simple process has now given me even more ideas for ways to incorporate this concept of "waking up in Berks County".  I have started to use some of the pictures I've taken in multi-media collages that I create.  I couple the pictures with cutouts of local articles to create a truly unique piece of art that on all dimensions is inspired by Berks County and created in Berks County.  It's important to me to be an active citizen giving back and this is the way that I'm finally starting to fill that purpose in my life.

See all of Danielle's photos HERE.

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