Walking with a friend one day, Jerrie Poindexter Bates stopped and snapped a photo of an interesting shadow that had fallen on a tree trunk.
“She was so startled,” Bates recalled. “She said, ‘How did you see that? I would have just walked right past.’”
Capturing those images, moments of beauty – small and large – that may otherwise be taken for granted, is at the heart of the photographer’s current social media project.
Known as a 365 project, Bates committed Jan. 1 to take one iPhone photo a day for a year.
Bates posts her creations on Instagram with the hashtag #366project (it’s a leap year), and, since she’s focused her efforts on revealing the beauty of the North Carolina foothills, her captions also include the hashtag #ncfoothills.
As of today (Sunday) she’s on photo number 246/366.
Through the project, Bates hopes to trigger meaningful experiences for others.
“We just don’t think about it, but beauty is all around us,” she said.
“To me photography is a way to communicate something I see, something somebody might walk past, that makes someone take a pause and say ‘oh wow!’ It’s a really good feeling.”
Bates is no teenybopper unhealthily attached to her cell phone.
In fact, she’s generally not a fan of social media.
But she is an avid photographer.
She was given an instamatic camera at the age of 12 or 13 and has been hooked ever since.
“I would make money from priming tobacco or household chores and spend it all on rock albums and film,” said the Yadkin County native.
At one point the beloved hobby became a profession.
“I did have a photography studio,” and would shoot weddings and studio portraits. “I hated it,” she said. “It sucked the joy out of my hobby.”
A few years ago, a friend encouraged Bates to try Instagram.
She was hesitant at first, but gave it a shot when told that the platform was a way to connect and share with others with a similar passion for photography and became active in the community.
One woman she followed was involved with a 365 project.
“Every day I couldn’t wait to see what she posted,” Bates said, and decided to start her own, choosing to focus the scope of the project to images of nature found in Yadkin, Stokes, Surry and Forsyth counties.
“Throughout my life, photography and nature, the outdoors, has been my go-to,” she said. “Those are my happy places.”
The Foothills region both provides a lot of options and is near to where she lives, but more importantly, is near to her heart.
“I just thought, we live in such a beautiful place,” said Bates, who has lived in all four of those counties.
While visitors to locations such as Pilot Mountain State Park are drawn to its beauty, “most of the natives kind of take those things for granted.”
She captures the impressive, sweeping landscapes – Pilot is a favorite – but also finds beauty in the more mundane features of the local landscape.
She recalled photographing a garden spider’s zig-zag writing on the web.
“That web just stopped me in my tracks. I thought, ‘That will be today’s picture,’” she said.
Keeping up with a photo-a-day requires a particular kind of attention.
“It’s harder than I thought,” Bates admitted. “This project has been a fun experiment to me just to make myself go out and find that beauty.”
Bates said the response from the Instagram community has been positive.
She has an international following, having been featured on hubs, such as The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina, which has more than 14,000 followers.
One man who follows Bates’s account is deployed in the Middle East and the photos provide him a daily connection with home.
“It’s really, really rewarding,” she said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.