Monday, 20 August 2012

The Vancouver 12x12 Photo Marathon - The Experience of a First - Timer

     I was up at the crack of 6:00am to participate in my first Vancouver 12x12 Photo Marathon.  I was picked up at 7:30 by Tracy Hunter and her daughter Kennedy, then off for a quick Starbucks run before we hit the highway for our one hour trip into Gastown.  To say we were excited was an understatement. We arrived in Gastown at about ten to nine, found parking, made sure we had all our food, drink and gear, and hiked to the Coffee Bar.  Even though we were early, I was quite surprised to see that we were by no means the first to arrive. 

     We got registered, got our mugshots taken, found a table, and met up with Sam Chua and Cara Grimshaw (who was doing a marathon of her own already, having literally just arrived back from the Olympics).  John Roberts and Chris McDonald came in from Victoria, and my friend Dwayne Girvan finally showed up.

     Anticipation was building as we got closer to the 10:00am go time.  After doing some announcements and introductions, Morten drew the first theme for the marathon:  Entry Number + Colour.  Wait, this is black and white film, right?  Wow, this is going to require some thinking (I had the number 37).

     Tracy, Kennedy an I hit the pavement and started walking, if for anything just to get our minds wrapped around this theme. We started hiking over to Army and Navy to get some accessories for Tracy's idea, when I looked across the street and saw my shot, almost perfect, just sitting there.  I crossed the street and set up my shot, struggling a little with the depth-of-field, but after a few minutes I nailed my settings and shot it (yay me!) - one down, eleven more to go.  We got to the store and Tracy picked up what she needed.  We went back to Gastown for some more textured sidewalks, and Tracy got her shot.  We then went over near a back alleyway by a restaurant, and Kennedy got her shot.  It was approaching 11:00, so we booted it back to the Coffee Bar for the next theme:  Through the Looking Glass.

     I think almost everyone had an idea in mind as soon as they heard it, kind of like a loud mental "click" that happened.  I knew that Canada Place would have some kind of lookout that I could use, so I hiked over there with Kennedy and Tracy in tow.  We got there and we were right in the middle of an Anime convention and two loads of cruise ship tourists - it was a little crowded.  I didn't find a lookout, but I found something similar and got my shot.  Tracy I think got hers too, Kennedy wasn't able to follow through on her idea because a certain building was locked.  We made it back to the Coffee Bar for the next theme:  Nude.

    Being a glamour photographer, I had an idea right away.  But Kennedy hadn't taken her shot for Theme 2 yet, so we went with her to go help her find her shot.  She had a cool concept, and got her shot - but it resulted in her getting her camera gear locked in an office building.  She had gone inside to set up a shot through a window, and came back outside to shoot it.  But the office door was auto-locking (I don't think it closed properly earlier, which is how Kennedy got in).  So we had to get a hold of security, and then wait.  While Kennedy and Tracy waited, I hiked it back to Canada Place to get my nude shot - the abundance of Anime/Cosplay girls making it an easy theme to do (don't worry, it wasn't actually a nude girl). I met up with the ladies again, and Tracy got her nude theme shot.  So back to the Bar we went to get Theme 4:  In 20 years.

     At this point we rested a bit before heading out again - rehydrated, snacking, socializing, etc.   I was trying to come up with ideas, and had a few good ones, but it just wasn't working out right away.  Kennedy and Tracy in the meantime helped out another photographer with his idea (which was a great one).  They both got their photographs done too, before the next Theme was announced:  Old School.

   This time out, we were joined by Cynthia who was going to document our Theme 5 outing.  She was snapping photos while we were hunting for ours.  On the way on Water Street I spotted something that may work for Theme 4, so I got Kennedy to pose for me, and I think it worked.  On the way back down I saw a street artist, who I asked if I could take his photo - Old School Theme done, now I'm all caught up.   
I forget what Tracy and Kennedy shot, but I know they took photos of something.  So back at the Coffee Bar for Theme 6:  Three Times.  It didn't sound too hard, so off to Timmy's for lunch we went!

     While walking up to the Timmy's, Kennedy spotted her shot for Theme 6 - it was kinda big and staring right at us.  She hopped across the street and got her shot, leaving Tracy and myself to ponder.  During my smoothie intake, I became inspired and let Kennedy and Tracy know that I needed to borrow a few of their items when we got back to the Coffee Bar, and they agreed.  We got back to the Coffee Bar and got the next theme:  Top.  Seemingly easy, but it comes down to interpretation.  Kennedy actually had some classic game pieces in her bag, and got her photo very quickly.  I borrowed some of Tracy and Kennedy's items and got my "Three Times" photo.  I told them I was going back up to Canada Place for my "Top" photo after seeing a Black Top Taxi go by, knowing that the taxis queued up at Canada Place.  When I got up there, I saw something better, grabbed my shot, and went back to the Bar for Theme 8:  Hide.

     I had actually spotted something earlier on Water Street that would work perfectly, so a-hiking I went, up to a local rug shop, and because of the way I was positioned in the doorway, I kept setting off the door's motion sensors.  I wandered back to the Coffee Bar for Theme 9:  Clever.  Nothing quite like a curveball this late in the marathon.  At his point we just decided to relax for a bit to try to think of ideas.  After a while, Theme 10 came around:  Float.  Tracy, Kennedy and I packed up and hit the streets to seek inspiration.

     After going to Save-On-Meats to go chat with Sam and Cara, we walked around a few blocks, and I spotted something clever in a doorway.  Tracy spotted something nice and floaty, but was worried that the reflection of a passing car may have ruined it.  We wandered down the street to a back alley so that Kennedy could photograph some pretty cool graffiti.  This next part is a bit of a blur.  We heard a car screeching, then a guy came running up the alley really fast.  He tossed a knife into an alcove, and then a police car came speeding up behind him.  I ducked out of the way, Kennedy backed against the wall, and Tracy went to try to cover Kennedy.  While I backed up, I nearly backed into a cop running up the street with his gun drawn.  This cop chased down the running man, and the cop car pulled up behind them on the street.  The cop in the car got out and pulled out his gun, the running cop grabbed the running man and took him down.  A few seconds later there were about half a dozen more officers there, looking for the knife and taking Tracy's info and statement.  Poor Kennedy was already dying to go to the washroom, so this didn't really help her in any way.  We went on our way down the street, and found a nice small courtyard, where we found our shots for the "Float" theme.  We made it back to the Coffee Bar to get the next Theme:  Background Story.

     At this point I was feeling dizzy, so I decided I was going to get food, so we went to Save-On-Meats for dinner.  I invited the server to our Raw Talent night, and while waiting for our dinners I spotted a perfect shot for Background Story and grabbed it.  Tracy got her idea and shot it during dinner.  Kennedy got her idea too, and shot it while we were on our way out.  We then booted it out the restaurant and to the Coffee Bar for the announcement of Theme 12:  (d)evolved.  Really?  With 60 exhausted, near brain-dead photographers they throw THAT at us?  I think the awesome image that was taken of Shannon at this point summed it up for everyone.

     So everyone seemed to fly outside in a bit of a daze.  Everyone looking for something that would remotely represent this last theme.   Kennedy decided on a subject for her theme just down the street from the Coffee Bar, as did several others.  I found mine a few blocks away in a window.  It wasn't the best representation, but with about 15 minutes left I shot it, it was the best I could come up with on zero brain power and sore feet and shoulders.

     We hiked it back and handed in our rolls of HP5 and then just sat, congratulating others on the completion of a fun-filled, rewarding, and exhausting day - even the stuffed bunny someone had brought looked tired.  I picked up my free coffee that I had apparently won earlier in the day, Kennedy, Tracy and I grabbed our gear, and went home.



  1. Can you post your photos? That would be cool!

  2. Hi Lori, the link to my photos is here...