As I write, I should’ve been three quarters of the way through the 24 hour project. Unfortunately, like many things, it has been postponed due to Coronavirus. Having had to drop out last year due to other life events, I’m gutted – though I’ll be honest, being up and out for 24+ hours is hard at my age!
What is the 24 hour project?
The 24 hour project is a charity and awareness raising event bringing photographers together from around the world. For 24 hours, from midnight to midnight, wherever you are in the world, photographers go out and photograph life where they live. Once every hour, participants share a photograph stating where and when it was taken.
It started in 2012 with 65 photographers, from 24 cities, in 20 countries. Last year there were 4,880 photographers, from 826 cities in 100 countries. That’s pretty good growth over just six years! When I heard about it, I thought it would be a great way to explore London and see whether it really is a city that never sleeps.
24hr17 – 1 April 2017
When I first took part in 2017, I was convinced I could do it, but at the same time I was wary that I would make it through the 24 hours without giving in when tiredness kicked in. Fortunately, my friend Antonio agreed – some would say stupidly – to join me. There was a larger group of people doing it in London, but we decided to do our own thing.
Just before midnight on 31 March, we set off to Trafalgar Square (we thought that would be a good place to start) full of energy and raring to go. From there we roamed the West End, into Soho and then, when things were quietening down, we headed to Camden expecting it to still be full of revellers. We couldn’t have been more wrong! I’ve never seen Camden so empty – another benefit I guess was seeing London without the hoards of people everywhere.
At 6am, one quarter of the way through, we were up on Primrose Hill hoping for an epic sunrise. That didn’t happen but it was a good place to see the city as it started to come to life. It’s also when my energy levels first dipped. After a quick fry up at a local cafe, we were ready to go again.
We headed to Borough Market, where we came across some other participants and I become a subject of one of their photos; headed along the river to Tower Bridge and even popped into the Tower of London before heading into the city. A friend was hosting a charity event down in South East London so we jumped on the bus south, where Antonio took the opportunity to have a nap. I was still too busy looking at what was going on around me and taking snaps of fellow passengers.
By 6pm we were back in town to enjoy the last quarter of the day. By this point you could tell we were weary but the end was almost in sight. We hung around the Southbank for the remaining time as there’s always plenty going on and plenty to see. Just after 10pm we sat down in Waterloo station and I had my first beer of the day and it felt so good, a reward for our efforts.
We parted ways just before midnight in Elephant and Castle. Whilst Antonio was sensible and went home, I was suddenly buzzing and full of energy so went for a drink with someone who had been following and supporting me via Instagram throughout the day. Needless to say when I finally got home sometime after 1am, I passed out and could’ve quite happily slept for 24 hours!
24hr18 – 7 April 2018
Every now and then I do something in my life that pushes me to my limit. This was one of those things.
However, just like when I did the Moonwalk many years ago and swore never to do it again, and then did a year or two later, I couldn’t help but join in again the following year. This time though, I was going it alone.
Again there was a wider group of people taking part in London who I kept in touch with via WhatsApp, but I mainly took my own path keen to visit some less obvious places. Like the previous year, I started in the West End, and as the revellers all headed home I headed to New Covent Garden Market as it was just getting going.
Keeping myself motivated was hard, and being so close to home it was hard to not just get on a bus and go home for a kip. I’m not a quitter though so instead I jumped on the tube and headed to Tower Bridge, again hoping to see a pretty sunrise. I didn’t! But I managed to catch up with the rest of the London group and had a drink to boost my energy levels, before I ventured off again.
I didn’t really have a planned route so just took myself where I fancied. I went over millennium bridge and up to St Paul’s before heading towards the Strand, where Adam came and met me for a quick ‘hello’ before he went to work. I hung around Trafalgar Square for a while before meeting some friends for a drink. They were headed to the Barbican so I wandered with them until I came across some interesting characters at, what they called, the fairy ball! This is why I love London! You never know what you are going to come across.
I had word on the WhatsApp group that there was a pillow fight taking place off Brick Lane so I headed east. It was while I was there that I realised two things:
- It was a lot hotter than I realised and I was getting sunburnt
- I was tired and dehydrated
With over seven hours still to go, I didn’t want to give up but I knew I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I headed to the Southbank (there’s a pattern here) and waited in the Royal Festival Hall until Adam finished work and could join me. We went for dinner and I was struggling to stay awake, but it did give me the energy boost I needed if I was to make it to the end.
Last port of call was Brick Lane as Saturday night was getting underway. As we got on the 35 bus home, I’ve never been more grateful for being able to sit down. Over the course of 24 hours I had walked over 30 miles and hadn’t slept for about 40 hours! No wonder I was tired.
24hr20 – date tbc
Antonio and I were all geared up to do it again this year, but for now we have to wait. It’s been rescheduled for October so hopefully by then it’ll be safe for us to go out and photograph people again. We’d already spoken a bit about how we would tackle it this time, with talk of planning a proper route to factor in some different places that we haven’t been to before or that might provide some interesting photographic opportunities. I was also planning on taking the day off work beforehand to ensure my energy levels started a high as possible.
Third time’s a charm right? Doing it again, surely I would learn from my mistakes of the previous two attempts and really make the most of the experience. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.