April the 1st is closer every day, soon we’ll be chasing pictures on the streets for 24 continuous hours. How and why did we get into this? And more importantly how are we going to pull this feat?
First part. The pictures
Second part. Do it without sleeping
Despite being awake for 24 straight hours being enough of a challenge we have decided to spice it up by having to be on the street to make a good picture every hour. Too much for most but not for photography lovers who may see a chance to overcome their inhibitions and shoot those images they didn’t know they could make. This is the 24 Hour Project.
First a precision: it’s not mandatory to participate the full 24 hours. It’s the ideal thing to do, of course, and I hope most of you will try but nobody is going to scold you if you can only go to the street in the afternoon after work.
Second, a small piece of advice: don’t do it alone. You can join a group in the largest cities or invite a friend. Company will lighten the burden of fatigue and make it safer to lug your precious camera in the streets. We are already coordinating the Querétaro group, contact me to participate!
Third: if you have not registered go to the 24 Hour Project website, register and then keep on reading.
First part: The pictures.
Now the exciting part; this is why we got into this marathon: to make 24 amazing pictures in one day.
The Goal of the 24 Hour Project is to document “the human condition” in a day in our city and share the images with the world. But what is “the human condition”? you may ask. Everything that shows we are humans (and not trees): emotions, conversations, discussions, hugs, fights, kisses, struggle, joy, laughter, etc.
Beyond aesthetics in images the challenge of the day is to document expressions of humanity to show we are all the same yet diverse. It’s a hard task to replicate 24 straight times so next week I'll share a list of proven ideas to ease the task of making good street images.
There are no ugly pictures
The most important thing in street photography is emotion, aesthetics come in second place. Everything else is not important and among those irrelevant things is image quality. Don’t discard your images because of noise, blur, lack of sharpness or bad exposure; a couple of quick adjustments will make them suitable to show those human emotions to the world.
So, how do I share my images?
The goal of the day is to share the pictures, that is why it is very important to make it following the project’s format.
The preferred channel for image sharing on April the first is Instagram but you can share them in any other social network you like. Images must be shared at the end of each hour and tagged according to this format:
Hour #City “Title” by @username as part of the #24hourproject #24hr17 #24hour17_City #Country to support @LesvosSolidarity For more information please visit @24 hourproject.
This is an example made with my personal data:
2:30am #Queretaro “Break Dance” by @superfocal as part of the #24hourproject #24hr17 #24hour17_Queretaro #Mexico to support @LesvosSolidarity For more information please visit @24 hourproject.
It is of paramount importance to share the images using this format so they can be gathered by the 24 Hour Project team and be shared worldwide. You can save this text format in your smartphone and copy it every time.
After the 1st of April you will be able to upload your original high resolution images to the 24 Hour Project website to be considered for exhibitions and a book.
There are no hard rules about gear in street photography: many great street photographers use their smartphones, others use compact cameras and there is a guy who uses his Game Boy camera. The important thing is being able to react fast to spontaneous situations; know how to use your camera so you may not miss a great shot by a split second.
If you are going to shoot with your camera instead of a smartphone remember to shoot your images in JPEG format so you can easily share them on Instagram on the fly. Latest cameras have integrated WiFi to transfer images to your smartphone but if you own an older camera model this cheap Sony SD card reader, WiFi hub and power bank is the second best piece of gear you can carry on the first day of April.
Android users may as well buy a dirt cheap OTG cable to directly connect their SD card to their smartphone.
About the legality of photographing strangers on the street
In most countries photographing strangers on the street is perfectly legal: it’s the basis of photojournalism, so most probably you are protected by press freedom laws. If you have doubts you may want to check this site.
Broadly speaking anything that is easily visible while you are standing on the street is matter of photography: buildings, people, animals and things: this means that any image shot in a public space can be published in a journalistic, editorial or educative context.
It is not smart, however, to go around bothering or offending random people. If somebody doesn’t want to have their picture taken just smile and move on, you will find plenty of chances.
About not taking a nap
Truth is that, although you may not want to let anybody know, you better manage to get some sleep during the day… and a lot a couple of days before. Follow these tips to maximize your energy:
Sleep early, plenty and well a couple of days before. Take a couple of Spaniard style naps.
During April the 1st program a 20 minute nap every three or four hours. 20 minutes is the ideal napping time.
Where should you nap? During the day, leaving glamour aside, you may sleep in a park bench or in the shadow of a tree. During the night you may want to grab a seat in a café, a fast food restaurant or in a car seat.
If you are wandering in a group you may take turns to nap and watch for each other.
Take it easy with coffee or energy drinks: taking more than one at a time or more than three or four on a day will backfire on you.
Do it with friends
The support of a friend or a group will always help you reaching farther. The main issues to coordinate with friends or groups are meeting spots and communication channels.
Discretion is important to make good street photos which means not wandering around like a pack of photography school newbies. A large group will work better divided in small clusters of three or four people spread around a park or a street. Having clear meeting spots and times will help reuniting the group when someone splits off chasing for a picture.
The batteries of our phones and cameras will hardly last a whole normal day so remember plugging your chargers on every single chance. A useful strategy is to have your phone in airplane mode for the first half hour of every hour and to turn off image review after each shot in your camera. This two measures will double your battery life.
Time to eat, sleep and photograph
Abou the use of time: a convenient formula is to use the first 30 minutes to photograph, 20 for moving around the city, eating, going to the bathroom, chatting or napping and the last 10 minutes to upload images and see photos from other cities.
Lastly, what should I bring with me?
Everything you decide to bring along you will carry all day. Pack lightly and if you doubt about something, leave it, you will probably be able to get it on the street. Dress in a comfortable and discreet way. Wear light and comfortable shoes.
In the time it takes the earth to spin around itself you will at least need:
- Toilet paper and baby wipes
- A light sweater
- A compact windbreaker jacket
- A water bottle
- A light baseball cap or hat
- Cash for food, coffee, transport and bathrooms
- Smartphone with charger
- An external power bank (optional)
- Photo camera (optional) with extra batteries and charger
- Additional SD cards (if you carry a camera)
- Wifi enabled SD card reader to transfer images to your phone. Or cheap Android OTG SD cable.
Not everything is wild partying though
Besides giving us the chance to live a great photographic experience, the 24 Hour Project allows us to contribute a bit to the wellbeing of our world. This year the goal is to bring attention to the cause of refugees through Lesvos Solidarity that works to bring free sheltering to refugees in Greece.