Behind the Scenes: 24 More (Part 1 of 2)
On Saturday March 19th 2016, I took part in the global 24HourProject which took place in over 600 cities to document humanity. With a particular creative vision built from Melbourne to Toronto & a local team to support me, I embarked on the mission to create from midnight to midnight, sharing 1 photo every hour, for 24 hours.
Here are some behind the scene notes to map out our 24 hour journey to tell a story of the humanity that exist in Melbourne & Beyond sharing a few additional images that were taken behind the scenes.
PREP & PLANNING
Week of March 14 2016| A good part of the week was spent in finalizing the curatorial vision, calling out for potential subjects & mapping out a workflow that would help us act on our vision to shed light on the people and places around Melbourne.
Curatorial Vision: We decided to focus on capturing personal portraits vs taking the street photography route of the #24hourproject. My goal was to start building bridges between the communities in the east & west of Melbourne.
Workflow: My biggest question was how to manage the workflow of the images from the DSLR camera’s that we would be shooting images. The process involved uploading the captures somewhere for a quick selection and edit before publishing online via instagram (ALL IN 1 HOUR).
Production Schedule: While I usually prefer to have a scheduled mapped when doing portrait shoots, I was struggling to fill in an hour by hour itinerary for a 24 hour timeline. I knew it would have to be more of an organic plan that adapted to conditions that we faced on the day.
Locations: Part of the curatorial vision was to cover the sides of Melbourne that do not often get the same attention as the central city. I realized the next planning challenge would be in how we would move from the different sides of east & west in order to cover the diverse hubs of Oakleigh, Clayton, Dandenong, Springvale, Fitzroy & Footscray.
Friday March 18, 2016 | I spent the last day before game day to get physically & mentally prepped for one of the biggest creative challenges I’ve taken on in recent years.
4:00am |I knocked out Friday morning to adjust into the late night schedule. Slept in till 11 before waking up & beginning to finalize the game day flow.
1:00pm |Was on the go most of the day to purchase items for the road including additional Canon DSLR batteries hooked up by my brother, Marlo of Melbourne’s Home Grown Collective. An essential addition to my kit that would help to continue creating without any interruptions.
8:00pm |By the time I got back from settling everything I took a half hour power nap before packing my kit the road. I was carrying equipment for two shooters and was already feeling like I may be lugging too much.
I planned to arrive an 1.5 early before I start time of midnight so I could grab dinner with my cousin (who has become one of my creative apprentices during my artist residency here in Melbourne.) Already falling behind in the schedule I realized time would be the biggest factor of this project.
THE 24 HOUR STORYLINE
Saturday March 19 12:10am | I arrived at Oakleigh Station an hour earlier, where I met and briefed my team on the game plan for the night. Oakleigh is considered to be a big Greek suburb of Melbourne. I was hoping to capture the night life on this side of town that was usually marked up with a long line of patio tables but the cold day & rain had deterred the usually large outdoor presence. My starting point was to capture a portrait of Ivan who has been a coach & mentor to both me & my cousins here in Melbourne.
We grabbed the Ivan Special (a special iced latte coined by Ivan himself) at a local joint & had a conversation with both him & his friend Nick about what we hoped to accomplish with our direction in the 24 hour project.
As Midnight rolled It was game time and I started working the corner I was sitting in to get some tight portrait shots while the team chatted with Ivan on his take on making a difference for humanity.
Humanity is a multitude of things, how do you put it in a box? We need to be observers to truly understand it”
1:03am | We caught the train headed towards the city & I start looking for potential subjects. Enosh, take the lead and strikes up a conversation with a couple sitting directly behind us to see if they would like to contribute.
2:16am | We arrived at Collingwood to meet a contact that was setup through my homie & community team member Ez El Deng, (a film maker whose been making moves out here for Sudanese community with a number of culturally based storytelling projects.)
In trying to navigate a new neighbourhood it took us 20 minutes to find Ez, who was waiting for us with his boy, a rapper from the island of Mauritius, Kid the Conquerer. They had access to studio location in which the Kid has been recording some of his latest work. After they eventually ended up finding us on the streets we walked back to the studio with the pressure to complete & publish the shots in the final 20 minutes.
A side door opened and we were greeted by Abe who ran the Creative Rebellion Youth Studio as a free 24 hour space for artist in the community. I walked into a dimly lit space that could only have been pulled off with the flash I had on standby.
“Sitting by a wishing well wondering if dreams come true..” — Lyrics by Kid the Conqueror
3:10am | We start making our way towards our next location, part of destination flow is starting to just be worked in my head as I check in with Enosh & Ez. We walk towards the direction of the Atherton Gardens Government Housing Estate where Ez is currently based at but sense we need a pit stop since we have been on the move with no proper food in us. Ez recommends a local Shawarma joint in Fitzroy to fuel us with some food for the road.
The gang orders some food & I start framing some shots. It’s past 3am, the late night Melbourne crowd is keeping this place packed & I’m trying my best not take away these guys from their hustle.
The shot I posted online was taken from the outside but Ez got me setup with the owner so I can shoot from behind the counters.
As the crowd dies out, I get my shawarma & start to learn a little more about the owner & young man working the floor who has only been here for a couple of months out of Turkey looking for a better life. These are the humbling realities of humanity that I’ve been looking for.
4:38am | We make our way towards Atherton Gardens Commissioned Housing. I had just finished a shoot with EZ the past weekend documenting his story with some frames from the building & already knew I wanted to add it to our shot list at some point to share this specific vantage point with the world.
Sharing perspectives from a government housing is something is something that represents the communities I’ve worked with and lived around for part of my life.
Sharing stories that documented these realities was why I picked up photography in the first place, so framing these sequences was a lot about exposing different elements of humanity through environmental portraits.
I started developing a steady workflow with capturing an image that I wanted to share and quickly pushed it to the ipad for selection, a quick edit & publishing. I start to introduce Enosh to this production process so I can break up some of the work load.
Roles, Mission, principles.
Become the channel through which we live, love, learn and leave a legacy.
— Ez El Deng
5:12am | I turner a corner to get the last shot out and everyone is gone missing. The 5 hours of constant creating is starting to get to me mentally & I ask myself how I’m going to hustle through the rest of the day & night. But Seriously where the heck did everyone go?
Everyone ducked into Ez’s flat to take a breather from the road. It’s about that time where our mental batteries are starting to drain. I also plug my phone in to give it some extra juice from constantly using it as a hotspot for the ipad.
Ez comes through with some home made tea for us to decompress our past five hours as we figure out what the next shot is going to be.
At this point feeling mentally strained on ideas I decide to shoot another environmental portrait of EZ in the project housing.
Feels like I’m just buying time until sunlight.
6:15am | We decide to get back on the move again. Staying in one place is starting to pull on our energy and the drowsiness is starting to kick in. We decide to head back out on the streets to change our scene up. Ez heads to bed to wake up for a funeral in the morning (Mad respect to my brother for being my community connect for this project while dealing with quite a bit)
The cold morning air abruptly wakes us up. We’re drained & not sure where to go from here.
I had only one shot in mind. It was about representing how similar neighbourhoods could be around the world, so I setup the tripod and shot the top side of the building lights because I wanted to show an anti portrait side of the humanity lives here.
Another few shots with the tripod and the team under some graffiti tags to share how tired we were but Enosh pointed out that tag might rwe may not want to rep. Good call brotha!
I’m start to see the need to get my energy back so I could stay more on point.
7:05am | We start walking towards down the street to the first coffee shop we could find so I could refocus with some caffeine. We are starting to get loopy so I think a mini break from the cold would do us good. I order my first coffee for the day & head out with the camera to gain some energy from the outside air & light that is starting to break.
I start shooting the empty streets as the team takes a breather inside. I take a moment to breathe in the fresh air and start feeling more alive. I give myself a pep talk
Okay, time to refocus.. I’m here to capture portraits of humanity.. I need to step my game up..
I start pacing down the street looking for faces and people on their early morning hustle. I catch this guy delivering bread to shops & stop to have a conversation about what I’m doing.
He excitedly agrees to share his portrait & his energy was greatly appreciated to get me back in the game for the morning.
8:25am | We decide to head back out of the city & jump on the tram towards Parliament station. Just as we are about to duck in, Enosh asks
What is humanity without faith?
We look back in the direction of St Peter’s Basilica. As we a framing shots from the outside we hear morning mass finish. A group of nuns walk out & I approach them on the aspects of documenting humanity with their portrait. They kindly reject the offer but tell us we can go inside. With their blessings we head on inside & get a little peace to starting our morning
9:32am | We’re back on to transiting & our train is just not showing up. It could be our lack of sleep but we find ourself hopping stops with time running out. Portrait photography for me has never been something I wanted to force, it has to feel natural. While street photography feels more like a reaction of waiting to freeze a time and place. I once struggled between finding my place between the two but even as I find my creative focus falling more towards portraiture, I can still dabble with the streets
I do an assessment of the insta feed & realize I’m flowing back and forth into a bit of street photography & portraiture.
I get the street photography shot of humanity in transit and push it to publishing while on the way to our next destination. The team pulls up feeds of 24 hour project as the world is contributing.
Notably feeling creatively drained I decide to plug into some music it and use it to recharge my energy. I start to remember how important it is to have rituals that keep you going.
The sun is shining now & we are all taking our energy from it. We break out some snacks and say man what a morning!
10:28am | We get off at Clayton station and rush down to our MMA training camp RAOMA, to capture our next portrait subject. I needed to get back to familiar grounds and start building a stronger second half with people. Training has become a big part of my life so I wanted to showcase that aspect of defining the inner warrior that is in all of us.
I’ve been rolling with Jiu Jitsu since I got to Melbourne so being able to build on some of the documentary work I was already doing behind the scenes was a way add Synergy my creative flow for the 24 hour shot list.
Being back on home grounds gave us a chance to plug in our gear to outlets and maybe take a breather from being on the constant go.
The team decides to get into a little training as a way charge themselves up as we push in the closing off the first 12 hours.
I decide to frame another shot in the camp to bring light to the humanity I’ve been a part of.