4Culture Grants + Calls

Picturing Trails: A Photographic Exploration of the RTS

The King County Regional Trails System (RTS) is one of the nation's most extensive multi-use off-road networks. Help bring it to life using your unique photographic perspective.

1 About the Project

1 About the Project

  • Budget: $20,000 per photographer. Two photographers will be selected. Budget is inclusive of artist fee, which includes time spent photographing on trails, a select number of images for use, applicable WA state sales/use tax, and travel.
  • Eligibility: open to professional fine art photographers working in a range of photographic styles and conceptual frameworks. Photographers must live in British Columbia, Oregon, or Washington.
  • Application: submission of an online application is required for this opportunity.
  • Deadline: Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm PDT (for those familiar with 4Culture Public Art calls, please note the earlier deadline.

NOTE – PUBLIC ART IS USING A NEW APPLICATION SYSTEM SO WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO START YOUR APPLICATION EARLY. The system is user friendly but as with anything new, please allow time to register an account and apply in advance of the deadline. We are here to help with any troubleshooting. Contact Brennan Jernigan at brennan.jernigan@4culture.org or 206-263-1587 if you have any questions.


This project will provide greater overall public exposure to the King County’s Regional Trail System (the RTS)—including existing trails and new trails such as Lake to Sound and Eastside Rail Corridor—through contemporary photography. Two photographers will be selected to explore and photograph the RTS during the course of approximately one year. The selected photographers will begin developing a plan to explore the RTS that will consider trail users and call attention to some of the more remote or less familiar trail locations farther from urban areas. The photographic intent is to capture the trail environment and trail users through a distinct visual sensibility. Photographers are encouraged to consider trails both as a journey and as social spaces and to highlight experiences that are not found elsewhere. Both photographers will coordinate with 4Culture and King County Parks staff to develop plans that do not duplicate exploration of trail geography. The resulting imagery will provide a contemporary take on the RTS that expresses a diverse and modern vision while capturing the zeitgeist of the trails, users, and the surrounding environment.

Photographers that work in a wide range of fine art styles and conceptual frameworks are encouraged to apply. While capturing the natural environment is important, the intent of this project is to capture the zeitgeist of the RTS, to highlight the diverse users of the trails, and to provide a new and exciting take on the vast regional trail environment. Photographers should have a desire to explore and photograph a wide range of environments throughout the regional trails network in King County, especially those found on lesser known trails.

Photographers must ensure availability during the project timeline, starting in September 2017 and completing exploration and photography in June 2018. This extended timeline will allow photographers to create a plan to explore the trails and to consider a range of seasons and experiences unique to the trails at various times of the year. Photographers should also display an interest in working with 4Culture and King County Parks to develop criteria for a public image crowdsourcing campaign that will be the second phase of this project (explained below), implemented in 2018. Two professional, fine art photographers will be selected for this project.

In September 2017 the selected photographers will be given an orientation to the RTS and have access to 4Culture and King County Parks staff throughout the project timeline. Photographs will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Upon completion of the exploration and photography phase by June 2018, King County Parks and 4Culture will work with the photographers to select a set number of images to become part of the King County Portable Works Collection (a diverse collection of portable artworks that can be seen in public buildings, hospitals, and health centers throughout the region). The selected images may also be used in non-commercial public display, including print and digital support materials for King County Trails and other regional partners such as King County Metro. Sites for such non-commercial public display may include but are not limited to King County public venues, billboards, construction fencing, kiosks, and websites and social media for King County Trails or its regional partners. The goal is to exhibit the images in a wide range of public locations to give the greatest amount of visibility to the photographers and their work, to provide a fresh take on the trail system, and to encourage the public to further explore the RTS.

Phase 2 of this project will work with the selected photographers, 4Culture, and King County Parks Regional Trails staff to create a crowdsourcing campaign. This campaign will encourage the public to explore the regional trails, take photographs, and submit their images for review by a selection panel. Selected images will be available for future non-commercial use by 4Culture and King County Parks. The selection committee make-up will include the Phase 1 selected photographers, King County Parks Regional Trails staff, and other stakeholders from throughout King County. The criteria for selection of crowdsourcing images and for image use will be developed by Phase 1 selected photographers, 4Culture, and King County Trails staff during the photographer in exploration phase. The crowdsourcing project will launch in approximately summer of 2018.


Starting in 1983, photographer Johsel Namkung explored King County Parks for two years, making them the subject of a photographic series called Vignettes of King County Parks. In this series, Namkung explored Parks and captured isolated elements. He described this exploration as a poetic look (what he called a “visual Haiku”) of nature through dramatic variations in site, season, and light. The fifty images in the series are unique to the time they were photographed; they capture the expanse of the King County Parks system in the mid-’80s.  These images are consistently the most requested works in the collection. King County Trails and 4Culture consider Namkung’s work an inspirational reference for a contemporary photographic exploration of new and existing trails throughout King County. While the Arts Master Plan and King County Trails have documented thousands of images of the hundreds of miles of regional trails, no effort has been undertaken to comprehensively document and interpret the trail system through fine art photography.

As the RTS is one of the nation’s most extensive multi-use off-road networks, there is a potential to utilize the unique perspective of contemporary photographers to show the breadth of the system. Given that there are over 300 miles of regional trails for recreation and active transportation, this is an opportunity to have a fresh and unique visual take on the regional trails in King County in order to encourage the public to explore or rediscover aspects of their “Big Backyard”.

The Arts Master Plan for the RTS*, created by artist Brian Borrello in 2015, provides an overarching blueprint for public art and cultural activities throughout the system. This project will build on the Arts Master Plan by encouraging a system-wide view of the regional trails in King County through the eyes of photographers with their unique perspectives.

*The Arts Master Plan is a large file (55 MB). Please be aware of this when downloading.

2 Timeline

2 Timeline

Timeline for Selection*

  • Call Goes Live: May 31, 2017
  • Application Deadline: 4:00 PM PDT, Thursday, July 13
  • 1st Panel, Artist Selection: early August
  • 2nd Panel, Interviews: mid to late August

Project Timeline**

  • Project kick-off: September 2017
  • Plan for photography and exploration: Fall 2017
  • Photography and exploration phase: September 2017 – June 2018
  • Crowdsourcing criteria and development: Early 2018

*Applicants are should be available in this timeframe in order to participate in an orientation and interview if selected as a finalist. Interviews may be done remotely.

**Schedules are subject to change.

3 Are You Eligible?

3 Are You Eligible?


This project is open to professional fine art photographers who reside in British Columbia, Oregon, or Washington. Two photographers will be awarded the commission for the project.

Selection Criteria

Finalists will be selected based foremost on the following criteria:

  • Quality and strength of past work as demonstrated in submitted application materials;
  • Photographic images display a distinct fine art approach or conceptual framework;
  • Desire to explore trails throughout the RTS, with a focus on unique locations and lesser explored trails;
  • Desire to create a body of work that interprets the iconic imagery of the RTS and the diversity of its users through the artist’s distinct photographic aesthetic;
  • Interest in collaborating with 4Culture and King County Parks Trails Division to develop selection criteria for the crowdsourcing component (Phase 2) of the project;
  • Availability to begin in September 2017 and explore and photograph consistently through June 2018 to capture a range of seasons and regional trail experiences.

4 How to Apply

4 How to Apply

Applicants must submit the following materials via online application.

Please note that we are using a new application system, apply.4culture.org, so we encourage you to start your application early. The system is user friendly but as with anything new, please allow time to register an account and apply in advance of the deadline. We are here to help with any troubleshooting. Please contact Brennan Jernigan at 206-263-1587 or brennan.jernigan@4culture.org.


Two-page (maximum) current professional resume. Keep the formatting as simple as possible. PDF is preferred; text (.txt) files will also be accepted.

Statement of Interest

Write a statement (500 words or less) explaining why you are interested in the project and in exploring the RTS and how you would approach this project considering your past work. Consider the selection criteria as it relates to this opportunity.

Work Samples

Applicants must submit a total of 10 work samples to be eligible. You are encouraged to submit work samples of past work that best illustrates your qualifications for the project. If your work is best experienced through time-based media, you may submit up to one (1) video work sample no longer than three (3) minutes. 

Work Sample Descriptions

Each submitted work sample must include the artwork title / project name, completion year, and dimensions. In addition, each submitted work sample should include a brief narrative description (125 words or less) that includes the following information, as applicable: medium, project location, commissioning agency, budget, project partners, photo credit, and copyright owner.

Digital Images

Please submit 10 digital images (or 9 digital images if submitting one video file, for a total of 10 samples). Upload JPG files only; images must be 1920 pixels on the longest side, at least 72 dpi, and less than 2 MB in size. File names should indicate the order in which they are to be reviewed by the peer panel. We recommend naming your image files like this: 01 LastName (e.g., 01 Rodriguez.jpg, 02 Rodriguez.jpg). Files may be uploaded in any order. Note: Our system may append an account name and numerical code to your files. Images will be presented to the peer-panel, one at a time, in the order you indicated by file name (e.g., 01 Rodriguez).


You may submit your final work sample as one (1) video file using Vimeo and/or YouTube. Once you have uploaded your file to Vimeo or YouTube, copy and paste the URL (e.g. https://vimeo.com/200263943) into the URL field. Do not include ANY information other than the URL(s) in the URL field. Websites other than Vimeo or YouTube will not be reviewed.

Uploaded image work samples will appear together as attachments in a file list at the bottom of this section after you have saved the form. These file upload buttons can be reused after first saving a draft of the application. If necessary, use the file list to delete a saved attachment by checking the “Delete” checkbox next to the file you wish to discard.

5 Help

5 Help

Please note that we are using a new application system, apply.4culture.org, so we encourage you to start your application early. The system is user friendly but as with anything new, please allow time to register an account and apply in advance of the deadline. We are here to help with any troubleshooting.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact:

Brennan Jernigan

Kelly Pajek

You can download a PDF of this call here.