Device for long-term photographic monitoring of an area using GSM

Hello! My first time working with Arduino. I took some basic circuit stuff in university but have never really done a major electronic project (but I build software professionally, so I'm feeling okay about that side). I'm considering the feasibility of a project and would love to just do a sanity check with you knowledgeable folk!

My Problem Statement: I have a few geographic areas I'd like to visually monitor - I need to receive one photo of each area once per week. All areas have GSM coverage but maybe quite weak. Photo needs to be about 5 mega-pixel or so. No human intervention for about nine months. No electricity on site.

I'm hoping this can be achieved through a solar setup + controller + gsm transmitter + camera + weatherproofing.

Controller - Takes a picture once per week at noon and transmits via GSM.
Solar Setup - Sustain the system. Can turn off GSM transmitter except to send, so expecting pretty low power consumption.
Weatherproofing - For this thread, let's assume I have some casing that allows 0 moisture and perfect line of sight for the nine month duration.

Does anything like this exist? I can't really find anything that seems appropriate for this purpose except for monitoring solutions which seem like mega overkill (thousands of dollars). I can also find many things to take a photo once per week, but I can't find one that also sends the photo out.

If you agree that building something would be useful, I am considering two approaches.

  • First is a mostly software approach to modifying an existing phone to act as controller+camera+gsm transmitter.
  • Second is based on Arduino + GSM Shield + Arducam + OV5642 camera.

Are there other more feasible approaches I have no considered?

I guess I'm interested mostly in discussing the second approach here. There are two of us with several months to dedicate full time and I have the goal of making maybe four of them (so let's say $300 each). Is this a totally crazy financial projection?