Earlier this year, during the chilly pre-dawn hours of April 4th, I was creeping around my village with a torch, tripod and camera. If any locals had been foolish enough to be awake at that time in the morning, I dare say they would’ve found my actions somewhat mysterious. However, I was innocently snapping photos of my leafy locale for the 4am Project, which is the brainchild of Birmingham freelance photographer Karen Strunks. (You can read about my experience here.)
And now, two and half months later, the 4am project is back! This time, alarms should be set for 4am on June 21st (the Summer Solstice).
The 4am Project – which I happened upon when I met Karen at the Birmingham Photospace Flash Swap exhibition at the Vaad Gallery in Birmingham’s Custard Factory back in March – is about encouraging photographers of all skill levels, from across the globe, to contribute to a “global snapshot” of the world at the often unseen hour of 4am. I absolutely loved the idea, and even texted my best friend (who was in South Africa for a wedding) to make sure that he took part as well. He later sent me an enthusiastic text message to tell me about his photos, saying: “One of mine is of a small plastic palm tree that looks like a silver cock!”
The aim of the first 4am Project wasn’t necessarily to take photographs of objects that had a phallic quality about them, but there was a freedom to capture whatever you wanted. If you set your alarm for 3:55am and only had enough energy to detach the pillow case from the viscous coating of drool smeared on your cheek, before fumbling around in the dark for your camera, wandering over to the window, and snapping a photo of a student being sick into your recycling bin – that was fine. But if you decided to venture out and spend an hour exploring your local area – even better!
This time, however, there is a theme for 4am photos. A few weeks ago, Karen threw out a few suggestions for everyone to vote on which resulted in a dead heat between shadows and street signs. (The inclusion of a shadows theme means that there’s still plenty of room for bleary-eyed, housebound photography.)
So, please do get involved on June 21st – wherever you are in the world – and get snapping between 4:00am and 4:59am (local time). In the meantime, you can follow the 4am Project on Twitter. And you might even want to print off this poster to encourage people in your wider community to get involved with the project as well (apparently, this is how people publicised events in the old days to great effect).
Given that you’re allowed to create your own 4am shadows, I’m praying that my friend doesn’t submit anything cock-shaped this time. Still, as long as he’s taking part – that’s all that matters.