Photomarathon UK comes to Cardiff for a ninth year this Saturday, with 400 photographers set to take on the challenge of taking 12 pictures, based on 12 different topics, in 12 hours. Here, yourCardiff guest blogger and two-time Photomarathon participant Anna Garton tells us what it’s all about, and gives us her top tips for taking great photos on the day.
12 Hours, 12 topics, 12 pictures, 1 unforgettable day
This Saturday (June 16) sees the return of Photomarathon to Cardiff. Now in its 9th year, this annual competition sees 400 amateur photographers undertake the creative challenge of taking 12 pictures over 12 hours on 12 given topics.
Initially this doesn’t sound so hard, but when you look closer, the challenge of the task is revealed. 12 photos means exactly that, 12 photos. The photos must be in the same order as the topics are given to you so that topic one is first on your camera memory card, followed by topic two, three, four etc with the topics being released in batches of four throughout the day. Not as easy as it sounds.
And similar to its namesake sporting event, Photomarathon is an endurance challenge as well as being incredibly addictive. This will be my third year taking part and despite the fatigue, sore feet and creative burnout, I’m first in line to sign back up the following year. And I’m not alone it seems.
This year, it took just six days for all 400 spaces to be snapped up. There are Photomarathon events all over Europe in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France and Russia but Cardiff was the home of the first UK Photomarathon in 2004 (introduced by Cardiff photographer Betina Skovbro) and is still one of the biggest. For me, Photomarathon is one of those key events in Cardiff’s calendar that highlights what a creative, innovative and imaginative city we are.
Ok, so here’s how it works. The day itself starts early. You need to be at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay to register from 8.30am onwards. You’ll get your wristband and will have your camera memory card checked that it’s clear.
At 10am, the first four topics are released. You then have four hours until the next set of four are released at 2pm and the final set at 6pm.
Remember, images must be in order, so once you’ve moved on to the next topic, you can’t go back and you’ll need to return to the Wales Millennium Centre (or this year also the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) to get the topics. At the end of the day, you hand your memory card back at Wales Millennium Centre for the photos to be copied off.
The competition culminates in an exhibition displaying every entrant’s set of 12 photos – a total of 4,800 images! This is one of the great things with Cardiff Photomarathon, everyone’s work is exhibited regardless of whether you’re a winner.
So if you are in Cardiff next Saturday, prepare to see photographers taking what may seem, very surreal shots. Please, humour us in our attempt to capture such concepts as ‘Inside Out’, ‘Double’, ‘My Secret’ or ‘The Great Outdoors’, when we’re lying on the floor, getting into awkward positions or possibly even getting naked. Ahem…
If you’re lucky enough to have got a place this year and are a Photomarathon virgin, here are my top tips. Good luck!
1. Check your camera before the day and in particular, make sure your battery is fully charged.
2. Your camera memory card will need to be clear at the beginning of the event so make sure you save and backup images beforehand to avoid having to delete anything precious on the day.
3. Take plenty of images when you find the shot you want. You can always delete unwanted ones but in Photomarathon you can’t go back!
4. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Prepare to spend the entire day out and about so bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going.
5. And finally, enjoy it! It’s one day of creative challenge, a chance to take photos you may never normally take and makes you look at Cardiff in a completely different light.