About the Project

Undertaking the unfamiliar can be scary, but it can also be exhilarating and formative. I set out this September in a field I know well (journalism) to conquer what was to me a relatively unknown genre (the photo essay). This blog is the product of that journey, a semester-long immersion into the world of photography, journalism, and the compilation of photographs into an essay.

The framework comes from a concept called the Unfamiliar Genre Project in which a student chooses an area of writing with which he or she has little experience and begins to research that genre, read examples within it, listen to it and examine it critically, develop a personal taste for it, practice it, and eventually produce a piece of original work in it. This blog looks at the product of my process (a photo essay on Greg Snyder's shoe shining service at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon), but just as importantly, this blog looks at the process itself with the publication of my meta-journal, a compilation of moments when I was "thinking about my thinking."

Thank you to Sr. Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B., my trusty advisor for the project and instructor for the course in journalism; to Greg Snyder, the subject to whom I owe the luster of my shoes and the content of this story; to the many brother seminarians and members of the seminary family who paused for a moment while I kneeled to the ground to capture a portrait of their shoes; and to the many authors and photographers that aided in my research and immersion.

Thanks also to you for reading. Your time at this blog is appreciated. As with any project in the humanities (especially a piece of journalism), may the content be thoughtful and the resulting dialogue fruitful.

Daniel Miller
Nov. 15, 2013