On this years Photomarathon, and avoiding cliches – Part 1

I was eagerly waiting last Sunday to come for a long time. The local photography group in my city (aptly named ‘Idyfos’, meaning soft light) had arranged its 3rd annual photomarathon (poster).

The idea of a photomarathon is something like this; meet up at 11 a.m. downtown, receive 4 subjects to shoot, return at 3 p.m. (4 hours later) and receive another 4 different subjects, and finally return once again at 7 p.m. to deliver your 8 photos. The rules are to shoot only during the event’s hours, to shoot in JPG, and not manipulate the photo in any way.

That “JPG only” rule stumped me at first, because I usually shoot exclusively in RAW. After some consideration I realised that having to think about getting the exposure perfect, and choosing the appropriate color profile for each shot would force me to slow down and think more carefully about each particular shot and what should I do to make it look the way I want it to look, and this could only lead to better compositions and photos in general.

Having participated in the previous one (without submitting my images for the contest though), I was eager to join in once more, this time feeling more motivated and competitive. The heavy rain that was falling early in the morning didn’t discourage me at all, and I got dressed thinking that it was going to keep raining through the whole day. Raincoat on top, umbrella at hand and the boots from my military service (that are ridiculously waterproof), plus some plastic bags in order to keep the camera dry and I was all set… if only the rain hadn’t stopped as soon as I arrived at the meeting place, making me look farcical compared to everyone else that showed up wearing just a t-shirt…

Anyhow, I tried to play it cool, and tried to get creative with those plastic bags I had carried on me while I was waiting for the first group of subjects. I made a hole in the bottom of the bag so I could have it wrapped around the lens, and then I was holding it in such a way that it appeared in the edges around it, making a natural color vignette. I experimented a bit, shooting some race cars that were in the same place as we were, but I can’t say I’m excited about the way the shots turned out.



Custom Six

Custom Six



After uploading some mobile pics on FB, stating that the marathon is about to start and I’m all set, at 11 a.m. we take the traditional group photo, and get a little piece of paper with the first group of subjects;

1st group of Subjects

1st group of Subjects

1. Create and shoot your participation number
2. An era
3. Self-portrait
4. A guilty secret

Right-o! Easy subjects, you might think, but my main goal was to avoid cliches…. To create photographs that forced the viewer to think about the subject, not just shove it plainly in his eyes, stating “That’s that”. Easier said, than done. There was also the risk of everyone else not understanding my intention. I decided to shoot my way, in my style, and not worry about anything else. After all, it’s all about personal expression, right?

The adrenaline rush gets drowned out as soon as I read the first one. Create? What do they mean, create? I’m a photographer dammit, not a kid making handicrafts! Anyway, I should get started. What’s my participation number?

Participation Number


Well, shit. Serves me right for not aplying early via Internet. It would be ok having a two-digit number, but 3 digits? Damn. My first thought was to find the corresponding street number in the city’s main road, and see if I could compose something from the street sign.

I started walking to find it, the road taking me back to my house. As my luck would have it, the street’s number was not in the immediate vicinity, but over 1000 meters away, and to make things worse, it didn’t even exist (or if it did, there wasn’t any signs)…
But, I stumbled upon an empty shop that had many mirrors in its entrance corridor, and managed to snap my self-portrait there, Vivian Maier style!



I took the road that leads back to the city centre, only to find out that one block away from the meeting place there was a shoe shop that had a shoe priced exactly 115 Euros, and that the road number there was 115…

115 Euro

115 Euros for a shoe?

115 Maizonos Str.

115 Maizonos Str.

Talk about irony. A participant took a shot of me there, as I was swapping lenses ( I was mainly using my 35mm, but had to swap for the tele for the zoom).
The street sign number, and the price, was not something that I had created, so I was off-topic there, but these photos had to do for now.

I also found an old wooden door with a slit for letters, and thought “Ooh, that’s an era right there, before the e-mails and stuff”. Took some shots,



and returned to the meeting place to rest a bit. That’s where I had the idea of shooting a text message on my mobile saying “I think about you all the time…”, that was supposedly for a secret lover or a long-time crush, for the “Guilty Secret” subject. I guess that this one gave me the most trouble compared to all the other subjects.

Guilty Secret

Guilty Secret

Moving towards a square via a pedestrian’s road, I found an excellent quote on a transparent cover of a coffee shop, that read “You will cross the world one day, and it will be more beautiful than a dream”. Wow! Talk about “An era”, a future era where the world will be a better place, better than a dream, such an optimistic thought that I agreed with completely. And my background was perfect, with a tree and a bench there (I’ve got a thing going on for benches), I carefully composed and took the shot (I also used one white plastic bag to create a bit of white vignette there).

A future, optimistic era

A future, optimistic era

Four subjects in the bag so far, and I was on my way back for the second group.

My course so far on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/r5BLJ , a total of 5kms walked. Not bad!

Photos, and more thoughts from the second half of the day, on part 2!

Thank you, for your time and visit, once again.


2 thoughts on “On this years Photomarathon, and avoiding cliches – Part 1

  1. Pingback: On this years Photomarathon, and avoiding cliches – Part 2 | Through the Looking Glass

  2. Pingback: On the 4th Annual Photomarathon (and winning an epic prize) | Through the Looking Glass

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