“Documenting Humanity to Make a Difference”
The images depict everyday moments: An old woman shakes crumbs from her tablecloth on a Budapest balcony, commuters ride the subway in New York City and lovers kiss in Lyon. On a single day in March, 2,785 photographers roamed the streets of 718 cities worldwide. Every hour — for 24 hours — they uploaded photos to Instagram as part of the 24 Hour Project. Street photography is at the heart of the project, which was started by photographers Renzo Grande and Sam Smotherman in 2012.
Renzo says the project is about documenting humanity, comparing themes and letting spectators discover how we are all connected through multiple frames coming together in a single hour, minute, moment.
After the 24-hour shooting period, the photographers submit their 24 favorite images to the project. The images live on in exhibits and books. But viewing the images in real-time has had particular significance to some. Back in 2014 a man confined to his hospital bed after a critical surgery was able to view the “celebration of life,” as he watched photographers upload images from New Zealand to Hawaii. Another person shares a story of how he connected the television in his South African home to project the live stream of photos. He told Renzo “it was a better way to discover the world than normal TV.”
In recent years the project has also partnered with NGOs to shed light on pressing global issues. Last year the project worked with She Has Hope to bring awareness to human trafficking survivors. For the 2017 edition of the 24 Hour Project, Renzo says they hope to draw attention to refugees worldwide and are seeking organizations for partnership.
“We are just humans in this beautiful photograph of existence,” Renzo says. “If we don’t aim to play our part, the world could just become an underdeveloped film. I believe we can all make a difference in someone else’s life. We can all start small by making someone else feel alive, then they will smile and that will make someone else smile.”
Renzo grew up in Lima, Peru, during a time of political turmoil and terrorism in the country. His family moved to the United States in 1992 in search of stability and opportunity.
“Struggling with ongoing issues and being an introvert made me find photography as a way to keep and feel alive,” Renzo says. “I would walk the streets of New York, contemplating, imagining that others were going through similar emotions, searching for the same answers.”
Renzo draws a similarity between The Everyday Projects and the 24 Hour Project in that both portray humanity from a local and intimate perspective. From afar Renzo has watched his native Peru change a lot in the past two decades. While he says it has mostly emerged from a dark chaotic era, he still believes there are many issues that have been “swept under the rug for too long.” This notion inspired him to recently start the Instagram account Everyday Peru.
“I hope we can also make a difference in Peru by bringing awareness to the cultural differences, socio-economical struggles and unknown issues Peru is going through internally.”