Cambridge photographer ends daily challenge after 13 years and 5,000 images | Cambridge

A full moon sitting perfectly symmetrically between the ancient spires of King’s College Chapel was Martin Bond’s last daily photo of Cambridge – 13 years after he started a creative project that has been viewed all over the world.

Bond, whose posts on social media under “A Cambridge Diary” have attracted a following of 100,000 people, set out in 2010 to celebrate Cambridge’s everyday moments by taking an atmospheric portrait shot of the city every single day of the year.

Bond has been unable to leave Cambridge for more than a night since taking on the challenge 13 years ago. Photograph: Martin Bond

Born and bred in the city, he wanted to portray a different side than the one most tourists see – while trying to rekindle the love local people feel for their home town.

On Tuesday, Bond shared his 5,000th consecutive daily picture and announced that it would be the last one after extending the project from one year to 13.

“I feel a bit sad – I’m going to miss doing it. And I’m worried I might spend the day in bed now,” he said, having not been able to leave the city for more than one night since the project began. “The power of capturing everyday moments reminds us that we’re human. There’s a connectedness that we sometimes take for granted or are not aware of. All I’m really doing is just tuning in to those little personal moments and interactions that happen thousands of times over, in every street, because they chime with me and I think they will chime with others.”

He initially focused his camera lens entirely on “real people living real lives” in Cambridge to encourage his followers to notice the beauty in scenes they might otherwise pass by.

He said: “For about a year, I deliberately avoided taking pictures of the colleges. But after a while, I realized that actually I couldn’t ignore the architecture, because it was pretty phenomenal.

Though initially reluctant to document university life in the city, Bond eventually sees the city through fresh eyes. Photograph: Martin Bond undefined/Martin Bond

“So I thought, as well as trying to show people from outside the city that there is another beautiful side to Cambridge, I should try to show the people who live here that there is a more secret and perhaps different way of looking at the buildings they are so used to. And that might rekindle their love affair of where they live.”

Bond’s work is highly regarded across Cambridge’s often rigid “town and gown” divide, with locals who discovered they were featured in a daily portrait telling him it was “a badge of honour”.

One of his all-time favorite shots is from March 2020 – on the first day of lockdown – when he captured the late head porter of the university’s Peterhouse college, Gerald Meade, watering daffodils. “For me, it was so reassuring. “It was a classic British ‘keep calm and carry on’ moment – ​​a sense that, even in this madness, some things will be maintained and somehow, it’s going to be alright,” Bond said.

This image of Gerald Meade watering the daffodils at Peterhouse, a Cambridge college, during lockdown, is one of Bond’s all-time favourites. Photograph: Martin Bond

The portrait, he added, was proudly displayed during Meade’s funeral service – and is now hanging in the college porter’s lodge.

This month, Bond published his first photographic book, Town and Gown, with 365 images chosen from the first seven years of his diary, and he is planning to shift through the estimated 25,000 photos he has taken since 2010 to curate two others. “There are some which, at the time, I thought didn’t make the grade. But now I look at them again and think: that’s a much better picture than the one I chose for that day.”

The photographer initially avoided taking pictures of the city’s famous colleges, and wanted to highlight other aspects of living in Cambridge. Photograph: Martin Bond

But, he said, there was one portrait he had never taken during his “very personal” project: a selfie.

He added: “Of course, every picture is, in some way, about me, because I’m framing it. I’ve seen something that has struck a chord with me and I’m framing it at the exclusion of everything else.

“I can’t think of anywhere better to live.”

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