73 landscapes. 73 locations. 73 days. This is the admirable achievement of amateur photographers Jason and Tracy Bould, in memory of their baby daughter, Emily, who passed away on February 16th 2017. We spoke to Jason just after they had captured their final image on October 3, to find out how their passion for photographing the Peak District is making a difference to their lives and to those of other bereaved parents, not least through the funds their epic challenge is raising for three vital support charities.

Why did you decide to take on this challenge?

Tracy and I met at school over 20 years ago and got married in August 2016. We were soon expecting our first child, a little girl. Unfortunately, the pregnancy was complicated and Emily was born at just 28 weeks and incredibly small. She came out kicking but sadly passed away the same day, 16th February 2017. It's been a very difficult time for us both but, thanks to family, friends and three amazing charities, we are getting through it.

We wanted to ensure those charities that had made it all a little more bearable are able to continue helping other parents who will sadly be in the same position, so we decided to come up with a fund-raising challenge. It took us ages to think of something that fitted with who we are, something a bit different and unique to us – and that certainly wasn't going to be running a marathon or doing Tough Mudders.

Photography plays a large part of our lives and it was especially important while we were at the hospital after Emily passed away; instead of having a lifetime to take beautiful and memorable photographs of her, we only had a few short days. We live on the southwest edge of the Peak District, and whenever we've gone there we've taken an excellent book called Peak District Through The Lens, by local pro photographer James Grant, which details 73 locations for good landscape images. So that's how we finally came up with the challenge of shooting 73 landscapes in 73 days and 73 locations around the Peaks.

Which charities are you raising funds and awareness for?

Aching Arms UK gives parents a teddy bear so they have something to hold onto when they leave hospital, so they aren't leaving empty handed. Each bear is named after a baby who has passed away, whose parents have paid £10 to have a bear named in memory of their child. We've paid to have one named Emily. Our bear is named after a little girl called Grace who passed away in 2014. You don't expect that much from a bear, especially as a bloke, but Grace means a huge amount to us both. She's allowed us to connect with Grace's parents, too, and she's gone to all 73 locations with us – she must be the most well travelled teddy in the Peak District.

4Louis provides hospitals with memory boxes containing lots of wonderful little things to help you make priceless memories in the short time that you've got, like hand and foot clay-impression kits, a certificate of living, a curl of hair box and SD cards to use in the hospital's camera if you haven't got a decent camera of your own.

Our hospital, Royal Stoke, has a suite of "Forget-Me-Not" rooms in a private area off the maternity ward. These rooms are specially decorated and equipped for parents who have lost a child before, during or just after birth. There are lots of homely features and wonderful, specially trained staff who'll do anything for you. They made our 5 days in the hospital bearable to the point where we can look back at that time with warm hearts and not just heartache. I took lots of pictures of all three of us and those pictures mean such a lot, but I don't think I will ever again take a photograph that was as difficult to do as those in the Forget-Me-Not rooms.

Have you met your fundraising target yet?

We've gone absolutely miles past what we'd even dreamed of raising. We originally reckoned £1000 would be great. We hit that pretty quickly through friends and family. So the next target was £3000 – £1000 per charity. The night before we started I sent out emails to photographers I respect and follow, and most got back very quickly, offering to help, and they did. When pro landscape photographers Adam Karnacz and Thomas Heaton posted videos they'd made with us, for example, the total went from £2300 to £10,000 literally overnight. We're up to about £11,500 now and we've still got all the prints to sell and some charity auctions to come.

We've been raising awareness about the charities, too – in the local papers, on the local radio stations and on the BBC news. One of the nicest pieces of feedback came after we went on the BBC news, the founder of Aching Arms emailed to say that a couple of hospitals had asked if the charity could work with them, and some parents asked if they could have one of the bears for themselves.

How much planning did it take?

We listed all 73 locations on a spreadsheet, with the book's grading of each from 1-5 in terms of difficulty of access, plus how long it would take to drive there and roughly how far it was from the parking place to the viewpoint. We work full time, but with Tracy being a primary school teacher, we decided to tackle the longest journeys in her six-week summer holidays; the closer places or the ones with the least walking we could then squeeze in during September.

How experienced were you both as landscape photographers when you embarked on 73 in 73?

We've only been taking photographs for two years at the most. I work in IT for T&C Site Services, who are earthmover-tyre specialists, and my interest really started when they asked me to take some pictures of a massive event they stage every other year at a quarry in Buxton. I had no idea what to do, but they gave me a camera anyway so off I went – and I loved it. I then bought a Nikon D750 and we practised using it so we could take it on our honeymoon to the Maldives and Dubai. Then we joined our local camera club and it's gone on from there. My photography "to do" list this year actually included "get better at landscape photography".

What was the first shoot of your challenge like?

It was Fair Brook at Kinder Scout, Saturday July 22nd, and it took the whole day, which came as a bit of a shock. It was quite a long drive, then a walk, then we shot some video, then there was the time we spent using the drone… By the time we'd got our photos and got back home we were pretty tired and then you're thinking, "Oh man, we're going to be doing this again tomorrow and then every other day for two and a half months. How are we going to manage it?"

There were actually quite a few times when we thought we'd bitten off a bit too much and we'd be out somewhere thinking "We can't do this" and then we'd remember why we were doing it, in Emily's memory, and that's what kept us going. The other things that gave us a push was the mind-blowing amount of comments and emails from people all over the world who'd seen our website, supporting us and wishing us all the best. Sometimes we'd be spending two hours a night emailing people back.

What equipment did you use for the challenge?

Our main camera was the Nikon D750, which we used for pretty much everything, with a D5300 as back-up. But we definitely began with too many lenses – all of them in the kitbag, in fact, to cover all the bases. After the very first day, I was knackered and it wasn't even a particularly hilly walk. We had to learn pretty quickly to be a lot more selective.

From then on, unless we were going to a place where a longer lens would be needed, we'd take either the 14-24mm f/2.8 or the 16-35mm f/4 – one of those two would always be there as they are both fantastic lenses and definitely my favourites. We'd also take the 24-70mm f/2.8 and occasionally the 70-200mm f/2.8.

We were so lucky with the gear. While the 14-24mm and the 70-200mm zooms are mine, the 16-35mm and 24-70mm were lent to us by professional photographer James Pedlar, along with his Lee Filters set for them. He was one of the people I approached to get involved, and we've become good friends. We've met some incredible people.

The other James who's been a really big help is James Grant, author of the book that's been the pillar stone of the whole challenge. We followed his book pretty much to the T – it tells you what the best time of the day is for shooting the location, so if it said sunrise we were there at sunrise and if it said sunset, we were there at sunset. If it said this is a great place for astrophotography, we were there at 1-2am, and if it said shoot in the late afternoon, that was very much appreciated!

How have you coped with editing and sorting your images?

It's been a case of get home, get the cards out of the camera, download the images, charge the batteries, get everything ready for the next day, skim through the shots we obviously wouldn't be keeping, and do quick edits in Lightroom on the handful we really liked. If we'd got a shot we thought we could print, then at the weekend we'd spend some extra time refining it and trying to get the most out of it. But it was imperative we got as much right in-camera as possible, as we didn't have the luxury of time for editing, alongside writing a blog post per location, editing the videos, emailing replies to people who'd contacted us.

What was the biggest challenge?

Rapidly changing weather is the one thing you can't easily manage, and sometimes it would catch us out. There were some places we really wanted to get perfect – to shoot the famous gate at Mam Tor in the right sunrise conditions took five visits – while if the weather was poor we'd go to the locations we weren't that fussed about. Those pictures weren't particularly great, but we didn't have much choice. We had to accept the fact that the weather wasn't going to wait for us and we certainly couldn't afford to wait for it.

And although it doesn't sound like much, sunrise and sunset change by just over 2 minutes a day, and in 73 days that's over 2.5 hours. When we started, sunset was at 9.15pm, and when we finished it was 6.45pm, which made getting to those sunset locations extremely difficult straight from work. We'd dash home for 6pm, grab Grace and the pre-packed bag and go straight out. We had a lot of takeaways during this challenge, and we probably would have each put about 7st on it we hadn't been doing all the walking!

Did you have any particularly tricky locations?

The most difficult one came right at the start, when we were physically at our most unfit, and only a couple of months after Tracy had undergone a lot of surgery following Emily's birth. We were off to the Trinnacle, a gritstone outcrop on Saddleworth Moor. We'd gone straight from work, got stuck in awful traffic on the way, and only arrived in the car park at 6.30pm. The ascent was brutally steep and took so much longer than we'd anticipated; and from the top there were still another 1.5 miles to go to the viewpoint. We were running out of time, and as a result of our rushing, Tracy twisted her ankle.

As luck would have it, a little group walking behind us happened to be junior doctors, so they sorted out her ankle and gave her some painkillers, which enabled us to get to the viewpoint and get a really nice shot. But then we had to get back down. It had taken us 2.5 hours to get from the car to that point, and now we had darkness to contend with. There was a shorter way down that meant most of the walk back to the car would be on a path, so we decided to go for it, but it was the wrong choice; we found ourselves scrambling down a series of little waterfalls. We both had head torches, but with Tracy's bad ankle and the bags we were carrying, it wasn't easy; in fact, it was very scary in places, and such a huge relief when we got to the bottom. By the time we got home, it was 12.30am, and Tracy said, "If I never see the Trinnacle again it will be too soon." Which sums it up nicely.

The day we shot Kinder Scout, the tallest and biggest mountain in the Peak District, was pretty tough, too. James Grant's book advised going when it was dry and clear, as the top is peat which can become dangerously boggy in the rain. Between us we have the navigational skills of a blind pigeon and we've got lost plenty of times – even though James' book is very well written, with clear instructions on how to get to each location. So we kept putting Kinder Scout off, and it wasn't until the last weekend of the whole challenge that we actually did it. We were exhausted and it was absolutely exhausting.

Which was your most memorable shoot?

If you'd asked me last week, my answer would have been our night shoot of the Perseids meteor shower at Middleton Top, where we saw over 100 shooting stars and even captured a bit of the Milky Way. Then there was the amazing day I spent airborne, thanks to our camera club, Willfield, arranging for local pilot Michael Fage to take us up in a private plane from Tatenhill Airfield to photograph the Peaks from above. Tracy wasn't feeling well, so I went up on with Grace. It was an experience I'll never forget, flying over all these locations we'd grown to love, and at the peak of the heather season.

But the best moment actually came on Tuesday October 3rd, the last day of the challenge. Technically we'd actually finished – we'd got the 73rd shot the previous Sunday, at Black Rocks, but we'd had low cloud, grey light and rain, and were disappointed with the results. It was a real anti-climax. So on that last day we decided to go back to the Roaches to sit and reflect on what we'd achieved. We took Grace, as we have done for every other shoot, plus the camera to do some selfies to send out as a thank you to everyone who had supported us.

It was still cold, grey raining, and not much fun. We sat down on the rocks in front of an old barn, did our thank-you video for our YouTube channel and started packing up our stuff. And then, I can only describe it as magic. As we were about to leave, in just two minutes the whole sky went from grey to pink, orange, red, a wonderful mackerel sky which we'd been waiting for all through our challenge. It was incredibly emotional; it felt like a pat on the back from Emily. A lot of tears were shed. Then we took two shots, and these are my favourites of all because of what they meant. We'd spent the whole challenge waiting for one of these rippling sunsets, and it came so out of the blue. We couldn't have finished in a more amazing way.

So what’s next?

We've got an exhibition running for 6 weeks from December 12th at Zest Café Bistro in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. They are very kindly sorting out sales and they're not taking a commission or charging us for exhibiting.

But the very first thing we're doing next is enjoy a couple of lie-ins and a spa weekend. It's not normally my thing but, after two months of non-stop photography, driving 2759.2 miles, walking 160.07 miles and taking 280,787 steps, we are both looking forward to it.

For more information visit www.73in73.com
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