Circles Project

In May of 2008, on a trip to Arizona, I found myself photographing beautiful circular patterns in sandstone. I mentioned to a friend that I loved the simplicity of natural circles, and their sometimes unexpected appearance in nature. She suggested that I start a “Circles Project”.

In the back of my mind, I also thought about a book I read to my children a thousand times when they were small – the quiet, beautiful story of a little girl who lacked confidence in her own artistic ability – The Dot – by Peter H. Reynolds. If you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it. The lesson rings true no matter your age, and the book is one of just a few that I’ll keep in my own personal collection even after my children are grown.

(For those who are interested, Mr. Reynolds has written other excellent books as well. Another favorite of mine is titled “Ish.” Again, these are children’s stories… but no less relevant because they were meant for a young audience. I’ve met thousands of adults who struggle with the same issues.)

Anyway – with that story and my friend’s suggestion in mind, I set out to capture a series of natural circles. I’ve been shooting circles for more than three years… ever since that trip to Arizona… and I’ll continue to add to the collection over time. Even now, after all this time, there is something about natural circles that reminds me to simplify… my life, my composition, my thought processes.

Personal projects are a great way to keep the creative juices flowing.. and to focus your photographic vision over time. Although I am always shooting other things as well – shooting circles is like adding to those fun collections we had as kids. Bottle caps or stamps or coins. But there’s something of myself in this collection, too. It’s more personal.

You can see that my circle images are pretty different from one another. Tiny pebbles in circles carved from solid rock… mud bubbles formed as gas escapes from underground… patterns in the sand that were created as grasses moved in the wind… lichen growing on rocks…

The variety is part of what makes the project so appealing to me. You start with a single image – a single idea – and pretty soon, you start seeing things in an entirely different light. I find circles in places I wouldn’t expect to find them!

I love finding another circle to add to my collection. So why not create your own project or assignment. Think about what appeals to you – something that interests you or defines you in some way. Take a simple theme and spin it – I think you’ll find that it becomes far more than you expected!


8 replies
  1. Patricia Davidson
    Patricia Davidson says:

    I love your circles project! The images you’ve share have a certain peace and tranquility about them. I have been thinking about my own project that I will begin with the new year. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beatrice
    Beatrice says:

    I saw this quote and I started looking for circles and saw your beautiful images.

    “Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk Oglala Sioux Holy Man


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Are you human? *