A 43-year-old man roams Pikes Peak with an assortment of camera gear strapped to his back, aiming his lens over rocks, past trees, down valleys, through clouds and across lakes, grassland and wildflowers. Have you seen him?
More than a thousand people on Facebook now call him The Pikes Peak Guy; friends and family know him as Shaun Daggett.
The photographer is seven weeks into an ambitious adventure that will ultimately end up as a book, to be titled 365 Days of Pikes Peak. His mission is to take a unique, gallery-quality snapshot of Pikes Peak from a new angle — and someone else's favorite perspective — every day, for an entire year.
"Everyone has a connection, a favorite view, a story about this mountain that they want to share, and I want to hear it all," says Daggett, who toyed with the idea for this "dream project" for a while, but "wasn't sure how people would receive it and if it would interest the public in any way, shape or form."
It was a gentleman who bought one of Daggett's pieces at an art show earlier this year who assuaged the photographer's doubts with encouragement. Daggett began research — what it had to offer, how far its view stretched, which communities it touched — and 10 years after he moved to Woodland Park, he depressed the shutter to capture photo No. 1.
He'd picked out the spot for that sunrise shot, but it didn't take long for suggested locations to start pouring in. He now spends at least three hours a day on the project, and sometimes many more between transit, photographing, post-production editing and blogging at mypeak365.com.
A look at Daggett's website showcases the dedicated work. Sorted by day, Daggett's super-saturated photographs are accompanied by paragraph-long descriptions, often including his inspiration; how he got the image; someone he met while capturing the photo; or a discovery about something he learned along the way. Some descriptions show a playfulness (July 16: "I looked over my shoulder and found someone taking a picture of me... taking a picture of the Peak"), while others are more sentimental (June 20: "What a great way to spend Father's Day!").
In its first 55 days, The Pikes Peak Guy Facebook fan page has topped 1,100 fans, and his project has gained three sponsors.
"Social media is the perfect vehicle for something like this to spread the word and get participation ... and the Facebook fan page and that fan base is driving every element as [the project is] being developed," says Daggett. "They're involved every single day, giving feedback, comments, suggesting locations — it's just been unbelievable. I'm really overwhelmed by the response."
Many project supporters have offered private views from their homes as locations for his daily photograph.
"There's a lot of homes in Teller County and the surrounding communities that have unbelievable views of Pikes Peak," Daggett says, "so I wanted people to tell me about their view and then go out to their property and capture that."
Exclusive vistas inherently being some of the best, Daggett's most interesting adventure so far has been to the south side of Pikes Peak with the Trails and Open Space Coalition. "That area has been cut off to the public since 1913 — people haven't been there for 100 years, and I got to go hiking back there and [take] a beautiful picture."
What makes Daggett's quest more unique is the fact that although he's practiced photography for 25 years, he doesn't consider himself a professional.
"I started this project in June of this year under the guise of The Pikes Peak Guy because I'm just like everyone else. I'm not someone who makes a living out of photography. [He prefers not to say what he does for a living otherwise.]
"It's just me and my camera out there, doing what I do. ... There's no guarantee [for success], so I go out there with a passion and I'm fueled by the fan base that takes the opportunity to tell me that they appreciate it."