Photo 24 – London 29th/30th June 2018
Having taken part in the above event over the weekend, I thought I would put together a blog with some of my thoughts and images.
So what is Photo24 London?
It’s a 24 hour, non-specific genre photoshoot held in the London area run by The Photography News publication and sponsored by Fujifilm. It begins at 3pm on the Friday and runs until 3pm on the Saturday. You can shoot for the whole duration of the event, or just a part, its flexible. Anyone can apply to join in, after which the lucky few (approx. 250 by my best guess) are invited to take part officially. I say officially as obviously anyone can shoot in the capital for 24 hours, any day of the year. Its free, and once you’re there the subject matter is whatever you want it to be.
So why would you sign up?
It’s a question I saw muted more than once on various social media feeds. Well for me there are several reasons.
1) For me I don’t think it would ever happen without a ‘set in stone’ date. Life is so busy these days something would surely crop up forcing the postponement until the next available day, on and on again.
2) Safety in numbers. Although I didn’t once feel threatened or at risk, its always a good idea to travel with another person, especially at night. If you’re in attendance alone the organisers run a ‘buddy up’ board, so If a couple of you plan to shoot in the same regions at the same time, you can, well, buddy up.
3) There’s competitions with decent prizes that you can only enter if you take part.
4) It’s an opportunity to meet up with people you only know in cyberspace.
5) I have (believe it or not) never taken photographs at night, so this was the perfect time to try it, and as you will see, I loved it.
6) The organisers also provide none compulsory ‘photo walks’, photo shoots at locations with professional models on hand, and an optional river cruise.
Chatting to people during the initial briefing it quickly became obvious that those that had done the event previously (this is the 7th year of the event) had strategies. The event virgins like myself were more inclined to ‘wing it’. In hindsight the strategy approach is a good idea. I wandered aimlessly for several hours looking for inspiration, whereas if I had set myself a more limited brief I could have focussed on that. I will learn for next time, assuming there is one.
Also, walking is tiring. I like a decent hike, but when you’re on your feet for that length of time having a ‘point’ to where your going like a milestone, would be beneficial.
The competition themes for this year were ‘Best Street Photograph’ and ‘Best London Scene’. There was a third competition whereby a theme would be announced on social media every hour and you had to submit a photo to meet the theme prior to the end of the event. I didn’t participate in the latter as I needed to preserve the battery life on my phone (which seems increasingly poor these days.
The weather was HOT. By the time I reached the briefing at the National Gallery I was sweating and grateful for the air conditioned environment. The weather influenced the choice of several of my chosen locations for shooting. Despite having the word ‘street’ in the title ‘Street Photography’, I don’t think it needs to be shot 100% outdoors. For me street photography is as much about the people going about their everyday lives as the environment I photograph them in. Some locations benefit from bright light casting super shadows, others when its wet for reflections in pavements. On this occasion I was happy for those locations with a controlled ambient temperature of about 22degrees centigrade.
Likewise I don’t think all Street photography needs to be black and white. I made a point to visit Camden town and Shoreditch, parts of London rich in culture and diversity. I just knew I would get something that would look great in colour from there.
I had walked several miles by the time my friend joined me (Jake Turner, fellow photographer type. Check him out on Twitter @JRTurnerPhoto) . So now rather than being a guy on his own with no fixed plan, there was two of us staring into the blindingly bright sunshine wondering what to do. We decided to eat while the light was harsh, saving ourselves for the glorious sunset that we both hoped for. As we came to the end of the pizza we noticed how low the sun had suddenly become. This was a problem. We were not where we wanted to be to make the most of the golden hour (it was actually more like a golden 10 minutes), but to cut a long story short, we missed it.
Gutted we headed off to the skyscrapers and tower blocks of the Docklands and then city. I had never photographed in a city at night, so was looking forward to ‘trying something new’.
Jake had parked his car on the edge of the city which enabled us to photograph wide and far, including the 2 main locations that were on our ‘to-do’ list. Places we both wanted to shoot anyway, regardless of this competition/event. This was great, so a huge thank you to him for playing taxi driver for the night.
After the none event at sunrise (it was cloudy) Jake headed back to Wiltshire, as I started my wanderings once again. Exhaustion does not breed inspiration, so the hours of 6 – 9 were not my most productive. To be frank I spent most of them in one of three MacDonald’s drinking coffee. I did find some great locations for another day, but they will just have to wait.
I cut short my event at 11:46am by jumping on the train back to Lichfield. I think I was done by then. I ended up with a very mixed bag of images. Some polished, some not so much, some very rough indeed, but I think that sums up the City of London itself. I had a really good time exploring. I stayed away from a lot of the places I have shot in before intentionally, and now I have a long list of places I must return to. Some of the more experimental shots that I tried worked well, others not so well, but I know what I need to do to make them work next time.
So after a couple of days to reflect and rest would I do it again?…..Most definitely. Hope you like the images posted, feel free to comment, ask questions etc
So I entered the competition (both categories) and was lucky enough to get shortlisted in the 'London Scene' Category with my image of the Thames Barrier in the early hours of the morning (see below). I wasn't lucky enough to progress any further, but having been told by the organisers that they had narrowed it down to just 12 images from each category, I was delighted to have got that far.
Well done to Graham Harries for winning with his splendid shot of the colours of London reflecting in a black cab (its a lot nicer than I have made it sound, trust me).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank William Cheung and his team from Photography news.
Locations I shot: The British Museum, Kings Cross, Camden Town, South Bank, Docklands, Leadenhall Market, ‘The City’, Battersea, The Thames Barrier, Moorgate, Shoreditch, Tottenham Court Road.
Equipment used: Fuji X-Pro2, Fujinon 23mm, 35mm and 90mm f/2 prime lenses and 16-55mm, f/2.8 telephoto lens. Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fibre Tripod and Gorillapod