6 Minutes, a Long Exposure Photography Project

6 Minutes, a Long Exposure Photography Project

A collection of unique moments in a celebration of finding the courage to follow my dream…


6 minute exposure, long exposure project by travel photographer Matthew Williams-Ellis

Pungapunga Island at Whangapoua Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula of the North Island of New Zealand

The background: Having completed a total of six years studying, first at University and then at a practice, I finally qualified as an accountant. I quit the very same day to pursue my dream of becoming a travel photographer. While my passion for photography was obviously the main reason, it was also my dissatisfaction with the suppression of any time to think creatively due to time pressures created by the requirement to fill in a timesheet. A timesheet in which every 6 minutes (a unit) of the day must be accounted for.

The concept: From this sprouted the idea of capturing a series of six minute exposures as a personal celebration of plucking up the courage to diverge from the safe path that I was heading down in favour of doing what I absolutely love. Each photograph represents a unit of time when I am now infinitely more happy for taking a risk and following my desire to explore the world as a photographer.


6 minute exposure, long exposure project by travel photographer Matthew Williams-Ellis

Ashness Landing Pier at Derwentwater in the Lake District, England

The exhibition: The photos will go on display once I have photographed 75 units, which is the length of time that used to comprise a full working day. I want to inspire people to think. Not to let ideas simply enter the mind and then disappear, but to stop and really think about what they enjoy in life and how they can find ways to spend more time doing these things. I am not suggesting for a moment that everyone should quit their job as I did, I simply want to encourage people to work out ways to do more of what makes them happy and live life to its fullest. No person has said it better that Alan Watts in his inspiring speech ‘What if money was no object?’, which I regularly listen to when I am in need of inspiration.


6 minute exposure, long exposure project by travel photographer Matthew Williams-Ellis

Buddhist Monastery near Inle Lake in Myanmar (Burma)

The project is progressing naturally over time as I travel to new destinations, photographing both commissions and personal projects such as this one. So far the project spans four continents: South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. I love the moment when the exposure finishes and I first get to see the photo, as it is impossible to predict exactly how the photo will look.

The photos are evolving gradually too. Initially, all photos were 6 minute exposures. Now, I have also taken some 12 minute exposures when I feel it will produce a better image, such as the photo of star trails over Cotopaxi and the Monastery in Myanmar. While the 6 minute theme remains, this project is not about following rules and as such I am also now experimenting with long exposure photography and the idea of producing a triptych of two minute exposures of the same scene (i.e. 6 minutes in total).


6 minute exposure, long exposure project by travel photographer Matthew Williams-Ellis

Cotopaxi Volcano ‘Cloud Eruption’, Ecuador

More information, photos and features relating to the project can be found here:
Imagebrief blog – Unlikely Inspiration: How Office Life Can Drive Creativity

If you would be interested in featuring the project, please do get in touch.


I hope you enjoy the selection of photos below. For updates on this project and information about future exhibitions and photography workshops, you can join me on my travels here.