24 portraits in 24 hours? Really??

I blame Tom Oldham. Ever since he visited in October, Year 13 Photography students Gabe, Paul and Harvey have been threatening to take on a 24 hour portrait challenge, all inspired by his project The Longest Day.

A Portrait of East London: The Longest Day by Tom Oldham, from We Are Shuffle on Vimeo.

As the boys regularly voiced their ambitions – to take 24 (prearranged) portraits in 24 hours – I, as any teacher worth their salt in reverse psychology would, mostly raised eyebrows and sprinkled doubts: These were pie-in-the-sky plans; a photography-fueled Inbetweeners/disaster movie in waiting. This was never going to happen.

I even offered to treat them to a fry-up in the early hours, confident it wouldn’t get that far.


Gabe, Paul and Harvey. 6.00am. Mission accomplished.

The truth is I’m so proud of all three of them. Portrait photography is no easy business, and harder still at 3am when  directing strangers, sleep dials on empty. But these guys really did nail it. They threw the mother of all-nighters in pursuit of excellence and adventure. And then rocked up for lessons next day.

The whole project, impressively led by Gabe, is a wonderful photographic record of various locals as they set about their business from dawn to, well, dawn, as it turned out.

Here are a few favourite shots:

DSC_941666.00am. Wayne, Bendalls Gym

DSC_9418217.00am. Chris Wilson, cyclist

DSC_951841.00pm. Gary, Velocity Scooters

24hr-104.00pm. Geoff, BH Vape

24hr-126.00pm. Bettina and Vadym, Nice ‘n’ Easy Dance Studio

24hr-159.00pm. Krystyna, Carpet binder

11pm (Wednesday)11.00pm. Janet and partner, Chick King

24hr-191.00am. Benson, Security Guard

The shots above are only a small selection, showing 8 of the 24 willing subjects. Their success rate is great testimony to the time they put in to their photography work. All three understand the value of developing technical understanding and are regularly at play with lighting set-ups and lenses. Alongside this, they simply get out with their cameras each day, striving to be better photographers. It’s an obvious strategy but one that requires dedication and persistence.

But the best bit of all? When students take on an ambitious undertaking such as this, it doesn’t leave them exhausted as you’d expect (immediate aftermath aside – Gabe did go green at one point). Rather, it makes them hungry for more, and all three have exciting new work in development. Once we’re past exam silly season I look forward to sharing more.

Top work boys. Erm, never doubted it.


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