The 24 Hour Project Reflections

Apr 11, 2018

Wow! What a day! On Saturday, April 7th, over 4200 people from 850 cities in 104 countries participated in the 24 Hour Project. I was lucky enough to be one of them! Participants took photographs documenting life in their town for 24 hours. The catch was that one photo every hour, captured in that hour, had to be posted to Instagram (@24HrProject). The result: local photographers around the world documented humanity in their city and shared what they saw with the rest of the world in real time.

I was not sure what to expect. Nervousness, excitement, fear, and anticipation were running through me simultaneously. The last time I pulled an all-nighter was 30-odd years ago in university! One thing I had not been anticipating was how emotional the event would be. It was amazing how the posts from Toronto, New York, Auckland, Lagos, Kangan, and Guadalajara, just to name a few of the cities, propelled me to shoot more and gave me the energy to continue. So in today’s blog, I want to share with you some information about the project, my reflections on the day, and the 24 images I captured.

About the 24 Hour Project

The goal of the 24 Hour Project is to document humanity and make a difference by raising awareness about global issues. The Project partners with several non-profits, to raise awareness of humanitarian matters around the world. Profits from the sale of two books, featuring selected images from Saturday’s event and the past runnings of the project, go to help fund three non-governmental organizations. More about those later.

Reflections on the Day

The weather forecast for April 7th in Vancouver was for rain, and not just any rain, the west coast rain that comes in sideways. There were three of us that participated for the entire 24 hours, and a friend joined us for the last half of the project. Four others who had registered bailed! And I can’t say I blamed them!

The three of us met at a coffee shop near Waterfront Station just before midnight Friday to begin our adventure. From the moment we started shooting, the feeling was electric. And it didn’t take long to get into a routine. The plan was to shoot exclusively with my Fujifilm X100F. However, it is not weather sealed, so I took my X-T2 and 35mm f/2 lens as well. I used the Fujifilm Cam Remote App to transfer my best image of the hour to my phone. Then I made slight edits using Snapseed (cropping and contrast) and uploaded one to Instagram each hour.

I am a perfectionist, and I knew that I was going to have to fight my urges to capture “perfect” photographs! Tonight was about capturing moments. I would not have time to make significant edits. And in the dark and the rain, it would be hard to focus accurately. But once I let go of those ideals, the images started to roll in.

Most hours I had no problem capturing a photograph. On several occasions, I captured a shot shortly after the hour started. I usually held off posting until about half past the hour. And, I often ended up with more images before the hour ended. However, there were a couple of hours where the timing was tight. I didn’t end up with a picture I was satisfied with until quarter to the hour!

We were very lucky. The rain held off until almost 4 am before the skies opened up! It didn’t bother us though. By this time, we were on such a high seeing other photographers’ posts from around the world. And although time was tight, it was so uplifting reading comments from others and commenting on their work as well. It made the world seem so much smaller.

The conversations with total strangers make street photography unlike any other genre of photography. And on Saturday we met so many amazing people who were curious about what we were doing and genuinely wanted to know more about the 24 Hour Project. It wasn’t unusual to spend 10-15 minutes talking with people and exchanging IG handles with them. And it was so neat to receive comments from these people several hours later as they followed along with our IG posts.

Somewhere between 3 or 4 pm we started to feel the exhaustion of being up for so long. I guess it was kind of like a marathon runner hitting the wall. We laid low for an hour or so in the train station, and I warmed up with my third grande cappuccino of the day. The 24 Hour Project was almost three-quarters of the way finished for us, only seven more images to capture. We had made it this far. The finish line was in sight.

Just before 9:30 pm it hit us. Most of the other time zones had finished, and folks were catching up on much-needed sleep. My first time shooting for the 24 Hour Project was almost finished. I posted my 9-10 pm image, which meant I had just two more. At 10:27 I captured another. And at 11:16, on the way back to the car, I found my last photograph. It was hard to press “share!” Although I was tired, wet and my back was aching, I did not want the night to end.

A 24 Hour Snapshot of Vancouver

One photograph an hour for 24 hours. They are far from being technically perfect. However, they capture what life is like on the streets of my city. 

The NGO’s

I mentioned above that the 24 Hr Project has partnered with three non-profit organizations. Here are some details about each one.

The first is She Has Hope (@She_Has_Hope) in Nepal, Uganda and The Philippines. She Has Hope is a human trafficking response program operating in Asia and Africa. They work to prevent girls from being abducted, rescuing victims from traffickers, and rehabilitating survivors with the goal of restoring them to a life full of hope.

The second is Lesvos Solidarity (@LesvosSolidarity). It is an open refugee camp in Mytilini, Lesvos (Greece). They provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable refugees including families with children, pregnant women, refugees with disabilities, refugees who suffer from serious medical conditions and victims of shipwrecks who lost loved ones in the sea.

Lastly, Shakti Vahini (@ShaktiVahini) empowers, educates and defends Women’s and their Human Rights. They spread the fight against human trafficking in India.

Until Next Time

Saturday was an incredible day on so many levels: I got to do what I am passionate about for 24 hours, and I met some incredible people along the way. The connection I felt with other street photographers around the world is a powerful reminder that we are not that different. Although distance, religions, and ethnicities separate us, we all share similar experiences. And finally, I hope I made a difference raising awareness for humanitarian issues. I can’t wait to participate again next year. There is already a reminder set on my phone to check the 24 Hour Project website early in 2019!

I can’t end this blog without a special thank you to Karl and Maggie, my cohorts with cameras who stuck it out with me for the entire 24 hours. You are both incredibly talented, and I learned so much watching you shoot. Thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout this marathon. I can’t wait to shoot with you again!