To see your area in a new light (literally) and get some interesting visual content for a local website, I’d really recommend taking part in Karen Strunks’ 4am Project, a photography project using the photo sharing network Flickr ‘to gather a collection of photos from around the world at the magical time of 4am’. Karen devised the project after finding herself driving home at 4am and noticing how different her surroundings seemed at the time:
I live in Birmingham ‐ the UK’s second largest city ‐ and after a night out a while back, I was driving from one side of the city to the other. It was around 4am and I was really struck by the cityscape. Streets and roads normally teeming with people and traffic were deserted. The city was asleep and it felt like I had it all to myself. I liked it.
People can take part in the 4am Project at any time of the year by taking photos between 4am-5am and uploading them onto Flickr tagged ‘4amproject’ (if you’re not on Flickr and unsure where to start, try reading our guide to Sharing photos with Flickr).
However, every so often Karen organises a special 4am Project date, encouraging everyone to take photos to get a global snapshot of 4am. So, on Sunday 6th December, a lot of people will be waking up very early and bracing the cold and dark to take pictures whilst their neighbours are still asleep.
I did the 4am Project for my site Digbeth is Good and found it showed me a whole new side of Digbeth – a world of serenely deserted back streets, which contrasted heavily with the High Street full of people spilling out of noisy nightclubs in search of fast food and taxis. I got to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise come across – nightclub bouncers, kebab house workers and early morning cleaners on their way to work. It was a real eye-opener, for me and my readers.
I’m not a terribly good photographer, but found my simple digital camera was enough to help me capture the quirky things I noticed – a girl climbing over railings in search of a taxi, a discarded pair of shoes and the staff at Salt ‘n’ Peppers sweeping up.
So take part if you can to find out what does or doesn’t happen where you are in the early hours. Try encouraging others to do the same, using the above print-off poster and a countdown clock you can embed into your website. Ask local people participating to tag their Flickr photos with the place name as well as ‘4amproject’ so you can feed them into your website. You could even do what Karen does in Birmingham and organise a group walkabout, which is great for moral support if you don’t feel safe wandering around alone and it’s good fun to go for a big breakfast afterwards. So set your alarms and charge your cameras or camera-phones for the 6th December, and be sure to wrap up warm!