Around this time last year I watched a few insta friends as they took to the streets snapping photos for the @24hourproject.
Could I do that? No way. a. I would need to ask people if I could snap them (remember I am a shy introvert). And b. I’m a photo-taking hack, not a photographer.
Fast forward a year and a I’ve taken a whole lot of photos. I have built some confidence after helping Zoë with her One Girl fundraiser. That fundraiser showed me that one of the reasons I keep my life simple is so that I can jump on board when something I care about crosses my path.
So, when this year’s project came up and it turned out that I would be in Dublin on my own for the weekend and a little gentle encouragement from Rachael aka @thebowerbirdgirl (an actual real street photographer), I signed up.
It would have been easy to say no but what an adventure I would have missed out on. I’m not sure how it happened but I adopted the persona of Fran the street photographer. I actually thought I was one, maybe I really was.
Photographers from across the world participate by taking photos in their city documenting humanity and uploading a photo an hour onto Instagram. This year the project was raising awareness of @LesvosSolidarity. A refugee camp in Greece run by volunteers providing shelter and hospitality to the most vulnerable humans. It’s fair to say that participating in the project shifted something in me.
For many days after I felt the need to retreat, reflect and question what this momentous 24 hours had meant to me. P.s. I did sleep through the early hours as I didn’t fancy wandering the streets alone and basically, I need my sleep.
Back to the shifting. There was the obvious realisation that if you practice something every day, in my case photography you will get better. You just will, fact.
I also wondered where my courage had come from. I confidently cruised the streets talking, looking, learning from and admiring people while asking to photograph them without fear.
Maybe it was that my confidence had grown as a photographer but really I think it was because I was part of something bigger. Raising awareness for an important cause while being connected to snappers across the world. An online community and a project unfolding in real time, gosh it was FUN and inspiring.
I was visiting Dublin for the first time and what a way to travel within a city. Exploring it through humanity, seeing the sights but focussing on the people. I saw Dublin in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had I simply wandered from sight to sight.
During the 24 hours I witnessed it all. By looking into the eyes of humanity I saw fun, joy, sadness, hope, desperation, kindness, gratitude, passion and love.
I spoke with Michael who was just out of prison and bought him some dinner. He had a gentleness that most people would probably walk right past. I probably would too normally.
There was so much excitement and fun on the streets. The weekend party revellers dressed up as they danced and sang with joy. What a gift live music can bring to a city.
I sat for my lunch on a shared table and witnessed a conversation that was one of the most expressive and moving ones I’ve ever seen. I didn’t understand the language but I read the feeling.
I met the café owner who spoke to me with a great passion for real food. He eagerly told me of his local suppliers and of a recent conversation he and his staff were having about becoming a café that doesn’t serve Avocado on the menu. Imagine that. He is right though, avocados are not really sustainable or local in Ireland.
Every time I asked someone if I could take their photo they were more than happy to accommodate. The cause resonated and people genuinely wanted to be photographed to help. That in itself was so cool.
Although it didn’t resonate with some that follow me on Instagram as they slowly dropped off while I was posting. It’s never easy on the ego when that happens but after stepping back a little and sitting with it I realise and accept that when you change and grow, or do something different not everyone comes with you. That’s really ok.
I remind myself that it really is braver to stick with who you are rather than stunt yourself trying to keep everyone happy. That’s how flow happens for me. If I let go of worrying about judgment something else wonderful happens. A new connection, a kind word or an invitation. I try to focus on this good stuff.
The 24-hour project was an adventure alright and one that I can’t wait to partake in again next year. I wonder what city I’ll be in?
Moral of this story: A year is a long time and a lot can happen if you practice and put yourself out there a little. Stepping out of the comfort zone and into the let’s give it a go and see where this goes zone.
And if you’re in Dublin…be sure to dine at Meet Me In The Morning. Delicious. I am also very grateful to @withaglowingheart for pointing me in the direction of this wonderful café. I do love the connections I have made across the world online and the doors that open because of them.