On March 19, starting at 12:00AM and ending at 11:59PM, I participated in the 2016 24 Hour Project. This year the event had an additional purpose. In addition to shooting photos for 24 hours as a way of documenting life around the world, it was also a platform to raise awareness and support for SheHasHope.org, supporting rehabilitation and restoration of survivors of human trafficking.
I showed up early to walk around for the beginning at midnight in Portland, ME. At first, the big challenge was the typical self-doubt: can I do this for 24 hours, will those people be alright with me approaching closely, what if someone is drunk and gets angry? There is a lot of activity around the bar areas until 1AM when things shutdown. Then the people disappear and the city is really quiet. And cold. When you’re just kinda walking around with no real purpose, and it’s cold and windy in the streets, it can really make you question what you’re doing. But, there are people sleeping rough on stoops and in doorways. I had it easy. I could walk back to my car and sit in the heat for a while, or drive to a 24 hr doughnut and coffee place.
The wee hours were really long. And it was a relief when the sun started coming up. You know the saying “it’s always darkest before the dawn?” It’s poetic and somewhat metaphorical. But, it’s probably also coldest before the dawn, as well. Bitter, biting cold.
But there are people to be found, out doing things we probably never think about.
Once the sun came up, the city started coming back to life. Then it was an easy cruise finding places to position myself to watch people and look for an interesting moment. I approached one man who was walking by me too fast. I just had to get a shot of what he was wearing. Then I talked to him for a moment and thanked him for pausing.
That’s an aspect I really like about shooting street. I like seeing things as they happen, but I also really enjoy meeting people. People have a story and they are interesting. It makes me feel more positive than my typical daily interactions. I’m left with a little gift that isn’t visible in photographs.
As the day progressed, I was able to meet with friends and family who were supportive and interested in the project. I wrapped up the night at a club with friends, having a few Cuba Libre’s and chatting with someone I had just met.