This is the last article for the We Are Juxt coverage of the stories from the amazing 24 Hour Project that Renzo @aliveinnyc and Sam @whittiersam organized on March 24, 2012. We Are Juxt has a few photographers who participated and in celebration of such a worldwide event, wanted to give you summaries of their 24 hours in their respective cities. To see some more of the work of over 65 photographers, in 35 countries, and 5 continents, visit @24hourproject.
My 24 Hours: Los Angeles, California
Before I start with the write up of the events of the 24th I have to confess that I lied about this project. When the invitations to the participants went out I wrote that “I hate sleep” – I was lying.
The concept of this project was initially just a personal project. I was planning on shooting my city or LA but had not set a date or personally committed to it. It was still just an idea and not a plan. When I read a post of @aliveinnyc – Renzo – about him being open to project ideas I thought this 24 hour project would be perfect for the two of us. We both are very interested in street photography, an approach which allows the subjects to tell the story of their city through their actions. We emailed and talked to clarify the project and I’m glad it became a true collaboration as the project became more defined, creative and bold. It grew from a plan of two guys, into a world wide event with over 60 participants. I’m still amazed at the list of participants and honored that so many talented photographers agreed to join in.
When I got home from work it was near 10PM Friday the 23rd of March. It was a long day made longer by little sleep the night before. I was up several times through out the night thinking about the project and how it was going to turn out and what exactly my game plan was going to be. I still did not have a route planned of where I was going to be at any specific time and that worried me. I tried to take a nap before I left and was able sleep for about 20 minutes but woke up again excited and nervous about what I was about to do. I left home with a kiss from my wife and a brown bag lunch she made for me and started to drive.
I took the long way into LA taking side streets looking for stories, starting to warm up my shooter’s eye. I will admit the night scene in Downtown LA is not something I had been personally involved with in recent years. When I had been there before it was different – more dark and less lively. Now as DTLA (Downtown LA) is going through a revival, I walked around for about 2 hours while the bars were still open and folks were in abundance. This shooting was easy. There was enough light, enough people and plenty of energy, but I couldn’t stay here all night so I headed out, driving somewhere to try to catch some folks for my 2 AM shots. I made a few wrong choices for locations and came upon empty streets and finally somewhere in Hollywood pulled into a 24 Hour convenience store. I was starting to get tired and as the shots weren’t coming quickly enough or with much quality. I was getting a little discouraged so I headed to a famous all night diner not too far from where I was to get some food and some shots of post-bar people as bars in LA close at 2AM.
Now the hard part 4AM – 6AM. This was the least productive and again the most discouraging hours. I wanted to get my sunrise shot at the ocean with SCUBA divers exiting the water – this was one of my few planned shots. Having dove at this location I was betting that there would be some night divers ending near sunrise but this meant I had to drive quite a ways. I rushed my 4 AM shot of men unloading a truck at a famous Southern California hamburger joint. The two workers did not take kindly to me snapping pictures of them at work and gave me conflicting information as one stood behind my car taking down my license plate number and the other one telling me to leave. I told him I would as soon as his friend was done standing behind my car so I could safely back out. This caused more discouragement and the need for sleep was becoming very apparent. I passed a few all night places and gas stations and found a parking lot near the dive spot debating with myself if I could pull off this idea of mine and finish the project. I slept for a while. I woke up and found an open restaurant – a great post dive eatery where I had been several times before. Then it was off to find the divers but when I pulled up to what seemed an empty lot and locked bathrooms I was very bummed until I payed a little closer attention to the water. I started to see two lights bobbing around near the surface. I was happy to see the lights getting closer and closer to shore and finally two body’s emerging from the calm water. I noticed one of their cylinders was lose and he plopped down a few feet away from me while his buddy fixed it.
Now it was off to meet a someone who agreed to spend some time with me – my nephew @dev24. It was a great time to talk with him about photography as we had never had a chance to go shooting together before that day. It was great to have someone with me. 7AM – 9AM was some of my best shooting of the day. Around 10AM we took a break near USC but when we went to walk around we found the streets to be rather empty. Again I would have to settle for this. By this time I was ready for another nap. I set my alarm for 45 mins and woke up in terror thinking I had over slept again – I bolted up and looking at my clock realized I had only slept 15 minutes. When we headed out again I was rushed for my shot as we headed up to a Jewish neighborhood. Drive time stole opportunities but that is also a big part of the story of LA – the drive, the commute, the car culture. While I do not live in LA proper and much of what I shoot would be outside of “Los Angeles”-the part of the city that makes Los Angeles Los Angeles. It is made up of many LA’s. Where other city’s are broken up by neighborhoods LA is broken up and understood by cities, Hollywood, Silver Lake, Venice Beach, large generalities of West LA, The Valley, South Central LA and East LA
It was hit and miss from 11 AM till about 2 PM with only a few minutes of excellent shots. It was time to drop off my nephew and meet another IGer, @dayzdandconfuzd . By the time I met up with him, exhaustion had settled in and stringing together a sentence was becoming difficult for me which Dave noted right way. We were in an area of town we had shot together in before and there was a lot of foot traffic at this time. We had a very productive 3 hours walking around DTLA. It was good to have someone to offer suggestions and walk with – which was becoming physically painful. The shots seemed to come in waves of extremely prolific shot’s then periods of nothing. This is where the challenge of selecting one per hour would prove to be very difficult. As the light was fading we walked around looking for patches of light. We were ending up where I had started almost 24 hours before coming full circle but rather than walk around alone I took the train with @dayzdandconfuzd as he headed home. This was a great opportunity to rest my feet and to get some train shots. When off of the train I was on my own again looking to complete the last 3 hours – the end was in sight but the view was painful. I lasted about another hour on the streets of DTLA then decided to head home and get my last shot in my city – where I knew of a birthday party being held. I will admit my last photo – and some in between – was more of a limping stagger to the finish line rather than a chest out head high arms back, breaking the tape at the finish.
I was proud of the day. It was difficult, very difficult, with wide sweeps of emotion, focus and opportunities. It was great at times to read the emails coming in from around the world talking about how they were holding up or were finished. Some did hurt though especially as I was on the last time zone and bringing up the rear and they were excited about being done or close to it – I would check my watch and count the hours and the pain would worsen. There was conflict in reading these, they didn’t just hurt, but it also allowed me to see others had done it and I could too. What was also encouraging was to see the IG feed @24hourproject live and what folks were shooting. A big thanks to Renzo’s wife @gothamkitty who filled in the hours to keep the feed live! This was an amazing experience made much more so with the addition of all of the participants and folks just joining in. The end project as it stands now has totally exceeded and blown away my initial vision. I will say the editing has proved to be very difficult for me, sticking to the parameters of the project – the process of telling a story of a city and not just selecting the “best picture. I hope I have put together a good story of LA – There are more to be told and I’m excited to find them.
I can’t wait for the next 24 Hour Project…it’s coming so stay tuned!