How it Feels to Shoot Street Photography 24 Hours Straight

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

This is a guest post by Josh White, a street photographer based in Seoul, Korea.

Josh: Yesterday (and sort of the day before) I took part in the 24 Hour Project. For those of you that don’t know, it is a street photography initiative that involves photographers worldwide.

Basically, how it works, is you take one photo per hour for 24 hours in your given city (cities in my case). So, from 00:00 on Saturday, March 21st, until 11:59 I was to stay awake and take and post one photo per hour. By the time 00:00 rolled around I felt more like #fml than #24hourproject.

Why partake then? Well, I think it started with this photo (above). Not exactly this photo, per say, but this time. I had gotten so much away from street photography since coming back to Korea that I probably wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing six months ago. Lately, however, I got a bit of the itch back. I say it started with this photo because this photo was the first “street” photo I took that I actually liked since coming back. I took it with a Ricoh GRD3 that I just happened to have stuffed in my bag after coming home from being out. The first time I took it out all day was when I saw her grabbing her head. She was too into whatever was going on to notice me. I took five or so before she did.

It isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken, but I like it and that IS a start. It was a while since I could say that.

South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 1. South Korea. March 2015.

A couple of days later, I heard about the 24 Hour Project from a contact on instagram (click for mine). I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. The theme, was “The Human Condition.” Whatever that means. I took it as I’d better just take photos with people in them. The first, above, is my girlfriend Areum. Thought it was a good way to start since she was going to try and make it through the night with me.

Hour 2. South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 2. South Korea. March 2015.

Considering the time of night, and the theme, I decided the best place to start would be the pub. Honestly, I just needed a beer to wash away the trepidation of the 24 hours to come. Plus, there are people in pubs.

Hour 3. South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 3. South Korea. March 2015.

The pub we went to was pretty small. It is near a university so figured it would be open late with some people in it. Lots of expats and otherwise. I wanted to start out easy. Plus, like I said, the beer.

As for gear (for those curious), I only took the Ricoh GRD3, extra battery, EyeFi card, and my iPhone. I edited the photos in vscocam and posted on the go.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I ended up spending most of the first four hours getting drunk and playing pool. Met a couple decent dudes though. This guy just came to Korea from Moscow.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

By the time 5AM rolled around, we were getting hungry so we went out to get chicken at a late night place near the pub with some of the guys we had met there.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

It was nearing 7 by the time I took this. I was dead. I had already had a cold and in the worry that I might actually die, I decided to get at least a couple hours of sleep. Lame, I know.

After waking up. South Korea. March 2015.
After waking up. South Korea. March 2015.

After a couple hours of sleep, we were back at it. Areum, had to go home and get some real rest so I took the bus to Myeongdong where I could continue. I needed to be where it was busy considering I still felt like a zombie after only a couple hours sleep.

South Korea. March 2015.
Into Myeongdong, Seoul, South Korea. March 2015.

I actually didn’t post this to instagram for the challenge. It was from the bus ride into downtown. I was still pretty groggy by this point. Couldn’t wait for the second wind.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I took this when I got out of the bus outside of Myeongdong. Figured it was a decent freebee considering I had forgotten that I was supposed to be posting every hour.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

When I had thought about the photos I’d take before starting the project, I thought I would try and tell the story of my day (s).

Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3

By this point, however, I was barely taking photos. I was more concerned with food and more coffee.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I would basically walk around for ten minutes, take a photo (sometimes a couple of the same scene) and then get into a cafe to relax and post. It actually became more of a battle for cafe seats in the busy downtown Seoul hub than an exercise in street photography.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

Not to mention the amount of money I was spending alternating between tea and coffee. I actually ended up returning to the same cafe a bunch of times with the same cup to save some cash.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

At around 6, I had to help a friend find a lens in Namdaemun Market which is adjacent to Myeongdong. The light was pretty nice then, although we spent most of the next two hours in and out of shops looking for the lens since I was his official Korean translator/haggler.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I should note, that I’m not showing all the photos I took here and some of these I didn’t post to instagram. I can’t even really remember what I was thinking when I posted, lol. I mostly posted the one I edited first in vsco.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

By the time 7/8 o’clock came I was really wondering why I had started this in the first place. I wasn’t really thinking anymore about taking photos. I was thinking about my bed.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

The one thing I was having fun with though was the little Ricoh. What a gem of a camera. Really, probably still one of the best digital cameras I’ve used. I was really glad I took it instead of something else, especially considering how tired I was. I probably would have given up already if I was using something bigger or more complicated.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

When the night really was wrapping up though, I was pretty happy with what I had gone through. While I probably would never take my best photos in a situation like this, I was happy to have gone out and taken some. It really reaffirmed that I need to take more photos and how much I love to do it. I did have fun.

The last photo of the project was supposed to be a selfie.

On the way home. South Korea. March 2015.
On the way home. South Korea. March 2015.

Should count, those ARE my feet.

So, after all that would I recommend someone participate next year? Well, it really depends on whether or not you value sleep.

Well, kind of.

I think it more depends on what you wish to get out of it. I didn’t do it to get exposure or new followers or whatever. I did it because I wanted to go out and take some photos. I wanted to “HAVE” to do so.

In the end, really, I did it for me.

Selfie take 2. Seoul, South Korea.
Selfie take 2. Seoul, South Korea.

Some takeaways:

Well, as for takeaways, I think the biggest thing I took from this experience is that I love photography. I love to shoot. While I don’t take many photos even when I do shoot, I feel like getting out like this is something I need to do more of. Something we all probably need to do more of. I am not going to spend 24 hours shooting in a row very often. Probably never, aside from on this occasion, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t just go out and shoot for the sake of it sometimes.

Several months ago I struggled with that. I didn’t go out and shoot just to do so. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I’m not sure what changed, but I do know one thing, no matter how I shoot and when the first and most important thing is I do for the right reasons. I take photos because it is fun and because I like it. We all find ourselves here for one reason or another, but I am pretty sure the main reason is that we all love photography. This experience for me, showed me that I needn’t pay too much attention to doing what I think is “right” and shooting what I think I “should.” In fact, it showed me that I need to just treat it for what it is, a hobby and something I love to do.

Another interesting part of this project for me was that it also allowed me to realize that I really don’t need the social media aspect of photography to enjoy it. Sounds strange, considering all of these photos were posted to Instagram, but honestly after the first photo I really stopped checking the app aside from when I had to post. I wanted to try and take some decent photos, but I wanted to do so for me. I think it is something we all have to think about. Who are we trying to please? There will never be enough favorites or likes. Never.

The only person you should care about liking your photos is you.

March 23rd, 2015.

Seoul, South Korea.

Follow Josh:

http://jtinseoul.wordpress.com

Instagram: @jt_inseoul

http://flickr.com/jtinseoul

http://erickimphotography/joshwhite

10 thoughts on “How it Feels to Shoot Street Photography 24 Hours Straight”

  1. Eric I am not one to post too often but shouldn’t the title read “How it feels To Shoot Street Photography for Almost 24 Hours”. Not taking anything from the OP because what he did was still quite a marathon but titling the article the way it is is a misrepresentation of what actually happened

  2. I ought to indulge in this challenge as I deal with frequent bouts of insomnia and am wide many nights anyway. Thanks for sharing your tale and you took some great shots. Makes one wonder what you’d come up with if you didn’t feel like death warmed over.

  3. Do you know another camera that makes some good quality photos as Ricoh GR3? I was looking for a Samsung, Sony, Canon, Nikon, etc, but I really don`t know any other that works in a similar way as Ricoh. I ask this because I don`t find any in my town (either online in my country: Brazil).

    1. It is not the camera that makes the photo, it is the photographer. The Fuji X100S works pretty great for me.

    2. Yeah, I agree honestly. Doesn’t matter which camera it is. I said I liked the Ricoh just because it is small and fun to shoot with. The photos I think would have been more or less similar if I had used anything from a DSLR to an iPhone. I often use all kinds of different point and shoots and it really doesn’t make any difference, the photos end up being very much the same. Just try out some and figure out what works for you.

  4. Very interesting story and some nice pictures, despite it not really being ‘shooting 24h straight’. Sounds more like shooting as little as possible just to nominally fulfill the assignment. (going out from a coffeeshop once an hour to take some pictures, posting the first one, etc).
    This is something I have been planning to do but so that I would choose a city that really lives around the clock, Tokyo would be good, and then check out from the hotel at noon, leave the bags at hotel storage and go out and shoot until the next day noon, then get back to that same hote to shower and sleep. I think midnight to midnight is much harder to do than noon to noon. You kind of lose two nights of sleep instead of one.

  5. You just have said what I think is the key. You have to always shoot for yourself. It is always right if you like it. Take it as a hobby is also a key for me. Thanks for sharing!

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