I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Cardiff was bathed in glorious sunshine yesterday. It was the perfect day for the 9th annual photomarathon.
12 photos. 12 topics. 12 hours.
The Rules of Photomarathon
1. Photomarathon is an entirely digital event. You can take part with a digital camera or mobile phone. You must provide your own memory card, which must be empty of images at the beginning of the day.
2.You must capture 12 images on 12 given topics, in the same order that the topics appear on the list given to you. You may delete and re-shoot images as you go, but once you have moved on to the next topic there’s no going back, unless you choose to delete multiple images.
3. You are not permitted to edit the images.
4. You must collect the topics at 10am, 2pm and 6pm, in person, from the Photomarathon HQ.
5. To cross the finish line and receive your certificate of completion, you must return your memory card for downloading by the 10pm deadline.
I wanted to take part in the photomarathon last year, but I didn’t realise there are only 400 places and I missed the registration window. This year, I made sure I got in. You’ve got to be quick, though. Registration opened at 9am, I was online about 3pm and I was entry number 334.
Rather than just turn up on the day with my camera and hope for the best, I tried to have a plan of attack. Although the photomarathon provides entrants with free bus and train travel on the day, I gave myself more flexibility by taking my push bike along as well.
From 8.30am onwards the entrants began to congregate on the start line at the Wales Millennium Centre. You don’t really need an excuse to visit this impressive building.
At 10am, we were off. And I went for a coffee. Don’t worry, I hadn’t given up yet. Part of my plan was to sit down and brainstorm ideas before I took any photos. Hopefully this forward planning would save me time later on. Well, that was the idea anyway.
I looked at the scrap of paper that a volunteer had handed me with the first four topics on.
Aaaaaarrrrgggggh! was the first thought that went through my mind. This was so stressful already! What on earth was I going to take photos of? My mind had gone completely blank.
OK. Deep breath. Another deep breath. Think.
Topic Number 1: Entry Number/Who Am I?
It is traditional in the photomarathon for the first topic to be a literal picture of your entry number (to help the judges and organisers) combined with another theme. I found my first prop, a book about family trees, at Cardiff Central Library.
Topic Number 2: Poetry
Poetry was never one of my strong points at school. I thought about what I find poetic, and song lyrics came to mind.
Topic Number 3: Asymmetrical
I really liked the idea of biting a chunk out of something symmetrical to make it asymmetrical. The only symmetrical foods I could think of that I can eat, however, were citrus fruits. Not something you would take a bite out of really. A cookie, cake or doughnut would be perfect, but due to my gluten allergy I’d have to find someone to bite into it. Fortunately, my musical friend who helped me with the sheet music for topic 2 was only too happy to oblige.
Topic Number 4: Space
Should I go for outer space? Maybe planets, the moon or stars. Should I go for relative space? That didn’t seem to fit with my close-cropped style of photography. So I chose the type of space that is like gold dust in Cardiff – a parking space.
Topic Number 5: Out and About
Seeing as I was out and about myself for the day, I basically just took a photo of the stuff I was using. You can’t tell from the photograph, but I was on the Taff Trail, a popular weekend escape for the inhabitants of Cardiff.
Topic Number 6: Behind the Scenes
I had to think hard for this one. What images come to mind when I think ‘behind the scenes’? Theatre, shop, television production, bars. Bars! That’s it! I phoned another good friend who manages a bar and asked for a favour.
Topic Number 7: Animated
Unless they’re the reason I’m taking the shot in the first place, I don’t usually take photos of people. It was really difficult to think of something else in Cardiff that could represent animated. I really wanted to find some lively animals, such as lambs, but we don’t even have a petting zoo here. My friend at the bar suggested going out to the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans, where they usually have live animals at the farm, but it seemed a long way to go on the off chance they would be there. The only other thing I could think of were windmills. The big windmill that generates electricity is too big, the rest of my photos were taken close-in. I had, however, seen lots of childrens toy windmills al over the city. Do you think I could find any of them now, though? Of course not. Just as I was giving up hope, I passed a street seller selling some very colourful examples. I settled for just buying one and sticking it in one of the flowerbeds in the park myself.
Topic Number 8: A bit on the side
To be honest, by this point I was exhausted. My subject matter is probably a bit obvious, but I was just happy to take photo number 8 before I had to go and collect the final set of topics at 6pm.
Topic Number 9: Shadow
I thought it clever of the organisers to choose this as topic number 9. At 6pm the sun was just going down and the shadows in the city were at their greatest. I wanted to do something different, though, so I raced home and took a photo of my eye shadow.
Topic Number 10: Mixed Message
The Magic Roundabout, as it is known locally, is famous here in Cardiff. I thought it was the perfect subject matter for this topic.
Topic Number 11: Elegant
My intention had been to take a shot of the roses in the rose garden, but due to my lack of knowledge about flowers I didn’t realise that the roses are still just stems at the moment. Luckily, I found these beauties next to the conservatory instead.
Topic Number 12: A Different Viewpoint
My idea was to show the world, or at least going down a slide, from a child’s viewpoint. I wanted to use the big slide, but even at 7pm it was still busy. So I settled for the baby slide instead.
The full Cardiff Photomarathon Exhibition 2013 will be at Cardiff Story, The Hayes 22nd June – 7th July.