Spotlight: Joe Valencia’s Backyard Boredom Photography Project

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Joe Valencia, NJspots writer and community member, started an extremely cool project in his back yard in the wake of New Jersey’s stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.

Read more about his backyard boredom photography project below — or even start one yourself!

Learn more about Joe in his NJspots photographer feature, on his photography blog, and on his personal blog. And read his NJspots stories here!

It was some time around mid-March that my company announced that anyone who wished to do so could work from home. I chose to do so; about two weeks later the office was shut down completely. As a programmer I have the luxury of being able to do my job anywhere I have an internet connection so I have been impacted far less than millions of others. What has been a big change is my choice of locations for photo excursions.

Backyard Boredom Photography Project, Spotlight: Joe Valencia’s Backyard Boredom Photography Project
Photo: Joe Valencia

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Joe Valencia and I have lived in Monmouth County all my life. I have lived in Long Branch, Oceanport, Eatontown and, for the last 27 years, Neptune.

Did your project start from an idea you had in quarantine?

When I am at the office, I can walk to Monmouth Battlefield for a nice hike or drive a few minutes to a few different other locations. If I just need to get some air, I can find things to shoot right around the office. I will also detour some some of my favorite locations on the way home from the office if I need some “shutter time” or the conditions are just right. The lock down took away the parks and I no longer go to the office so detours no longer exist.

So, what do you do when you can’t go anywhere but you just have to point the camera at something? I have seen a lot of people talking about using the time to work on their studio work – still life, arranged macro, water drops, etc… – but that has never really been my “thing.” I have been wanting to do more of that type of work but it takes preparation and most of the time I pick up the camera is when I need a release. So, while others have turned to their kitchen tables, I turned to my back (side and front) yard.

Backyard Boredom Photography Project, Spotlight: Joe Valencia’s Backyard Boredom Photography Project
Photo: Joe Valencia

How did your project get started? Where did the idea come from?

The project pretty much created itself. The name, COVID-19 Backyard Boredom Project, explains it all. I am so used to grabbing my camera and heading to a park and that all went away. I was having a particularly bad day working from home and so I grabbed the camera to see what I could find in the yard. After a while I made it a challenge to find something every day.

How does it fit in with your other projects?

This is fairly unique in its limited scope. Normally I will choose a broad subject like The Jersey Shore and then break it into smaller parts – Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, etc. This project is restricted to the boundaries of my yard.

Backyard Boredom Photography Project, Spotlight: Joe Valencia’s Backyard Boredom Photography Project
Photo: Joe Valencia

What is your favorite part about it?

It has made me slow down and look at ordinary things differently. I have photographed everything from flowers to bees to weeds. It has gotten me to see the beauty in things we normally don’t even pay attention to.

Will you continue after quarantine? What is the future of the project?

I am having a lot of fun with this and will definitely continue after the quarantine is lifted. As I am answering this I thought I might make it a seasonal project – make a series of images thru the season and write about the experience.

“Spotlight” is an ongoing segment featuring our Patrons and writiers and their quarantine projects. Contact editor Abbey Dufoe for more information.


NJspots is all about the community. We were started with the intention to stop stereotype of this state by sharing amazing places and we continue to find more and more people that share the same passion. Some of the most passionate community members that we are pleased to be joined by are our Patrons. JOIN US!

NJspots is a growing community. By sharing you can help.

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