A series of posts about my participation in the 24 Hour Project on 7 April 2018.
Last year my friend Samedog took part in the 24 Hour Project, where people across the world document their city for 24 hours, posting one photo an hour on instagram. It was interesting to follow his day in Melbourne in 2017 and I thought it would be a fun project to take part in this year.
I’d been thinking about it for a few weeks and wondering how I was going to manage it. I wasn’t sure that I’d be capable of staying awake for 24 hours straight, much less taking photos from midnight to midnight. I was mildly concerned about the prospect of being out on the streets alone, in the early hours of Saturday morning especially, and had visions of falling asleep on a park bench somewhere before the night was over.
You don’t have to do the full 24 hours, though the organisers recommend that you do. I thought maybe it would be possible to take part for 12 hours, from 6 am to 6 pm and maybe a bit later and eventually decided it was worth a shot.
Still, I put off registering. Then it transpired that Kramstable had a commitment on the same day that I’d need to be involved with, which was going to put a hole in my day and I decided it wasn’t going to be possible. But I still wanted to do it, so after we got the final details for that, I came up with a way where everyone would be able to do what they needed to do and I could participate in the project for as long as I was capable of.
Nothing like leaving things until the last minute, I signed up at 10 pm Friday night, two hours before the project was due to start. I set my alarm for 4.45 so that I could be out on the street by 5 am and (hopefully) start seeing people after 6 am, which was what I decided my start time would be.
I didn’t read any of the guidelines, so all I knew before I set off yesterday morning was that the project is a street photography project intended to document the human condition and that it supports the project’s work around women’s human rights.
In my mind, this meant that the photos would need to have people in them. The guidelines (which I have now read) suggest considering “the universal emotions of humor, love, sadness, joy, fulfilment, pain, loneliness” and capturing that in your photos.
I am not a street photography person. I feel self-conscious taking pictures in the street without people in them, especially with the big camera, and taking photos for my street corner project, which usually do feature people, still feels awkward. The idea of deliberately including people as subjects of my photos was mildly terrifying. It would be like taking the street corner project to a whole other level. The idea of trying to capture emotions in the photos was too much so I’m glad I didn’t know this.
For me, the challenge was going to be taking the photos at all. If I could get my 12 photos of people on the streets of Hobart between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm, I would consider it a success.
So with that in mind, I was ready to go.
Hour 1: 5.00 am to 6.00 am
I live about 10km from the city and public transport doesn’t operate at 5 am, so I had to walk into town. That’s no big deal. I do that sometimes. I like walking and it’s a nice two-hour trip. I wasn’t counting on seeing anyone at that time, which is why I set my start time as 6 am. But I do see people walking, running and cycling early in the morning so I thought there was a possibility of starting the project earlier than planned.
I hadn’t got far when I saw a girl sitting at a bus stop. My first opportunity, but I couldn’t bring myself to go over to her. I thought it would freak her out to have some random person with a phone approach her at 5.15, out of the darkness, and ask to take her photo, or if I didn’t ask, to stand over the road and do it. I know that would freak me out so I let that go. She was obviously waiting for someone as she got picked up just after I’d walked past.
A bit further along the road, I passed a lady walking the other way. There was my opportunity! I turned around and took a quick photo of her walking away from me.
As I walked I was still questioning whether I really wanted to be doing this. Surely there are better ways of spending a Saturday than taking shitty photos on a phone camera and posting them on instagram? Is it really worth doing if I can’t do the full 24 hours? After all, it is a 24-hour project.
After the first photo, I decided that I was going to do it, that some is better than none, and that I would think of it as a training run for doing the full 24 hours next year (which I would prepare for a lot earlier). So I was committed. No more doubting. The show must go on.
Hour 2: 6.00 am to 7.00 am
It was still dark, and I’d only seen one cyclist up to this point. I was hoping for a big group of them as that’s a fairly common sight on this road.
I got to Long Beach in Sandy Bay at 6.00. I’d seen people there in the past so thought this would be a good chance to get a backup photo for this hour in case I didn’t get the picture I wanted.
The conclusion I’d come to was that if I could take one photo early in each hour that would take the pressure off to find *the* photo for that hour. Normally my attention at Long Beach is on the lovely artwork on the bathing pavilion but today I was looking for people. I saw someone sitting on one of the bollards under the light and figured that was as good an opportunity as I was going to get and that if I approached from the side where I was walking, I could take the picture without disturbing the guy.
I kept walking and didn’t see anything that caught my eye enough to photograph, so beach light man was it.
Hour 3: 7.00 am to 8.00 am
My plan for when I got to town was to go straight to Salamanca Place, where people would be setting up their stalls for the market. I was sure this would be a great opportunity for photos of people doing their thing. This proved to be the case, though I felt extremely awkward standing around taking photos of the stallholders.
I didn’t stay long because there was something else unrelated to this project that I wanted to take some early morning photos of before too many people were around and I really really wanted coffee.
After coffee, I headed up into the city to think about my next photo. I sat down outside Target where a couple of people were also sitting. It dawned on me that this was a great photo opportunity, someone side-on rather than from the back, he was engrossed in his phone and would have had no idea he was about to make it into my instagram feed. Thanks, stallholders, but this is better.
I can’t help thinking if his head had been a little higher or the Target logo had been a little lower, it would have been an even better photo for that caption.
To be continued . . .