Over the past several years I’ve taken part in two Fotomarathons in Berlin, billed as a photo “competition under extreme circumstances: One city, 12 hours, 24 themes.” Always exhausting, but always a fantastic experience. So imagine my delight when I heard that Bremen was organizing it’s own Fotomarathon in mid-September: 9 hours, 9 photos, 9 themes. A little less extreme maybe, but still a proper challenge — I signed myself up immediately!
The Start – Schaulust, 11 am
The Bremen Fotomarathon kicked off on a Saturday morning. Over 200 photographers were there to learn the overall motif for the day: Stadt im Fluss or Flowing City. Definitely appropriate given Bremen’s maritime and Hanseatic history. We were also given the first set of three themes, plus the place and deadline for the first check-in point: 2pm at the Botanical Garden.
Before getting started, however, I sat myself down at a cafe with an espresso and a sandwich and put some thought into my strategy for the day. Although I only knew the overall motif and the first three themes, I decided that my set of photos for the Fotomarathon would also have a transportation theme in some way or another…
My first stop for my first photo was the main train station. An additional challenge for this photo was that it needed to included my start number for the competition. So number 126 of the luggage lockers seemed fitting!
Next I headed to the Europahafen to see the “Alex”, a well-known, beautiful boat visiting for the next months My aim was to make use of the figurative use of the theme in German, meaning overly made-/dressed-up, as well as it’s literal meaning. Although I love the Europahafen, I later ended up kicking myself for taking the time to travel out there.
For the third photo I stayed at the Europahafen and did my best to capture the effervescent energy of the Golden City Hafenbar. Then with plenty of time to spare until check-in, I made the 45-minute journey back into the city center and over to the Rhododendron Park and Botanical Garden.
Check-in point 1 – Botanika, 2 pm
After checking in, I received the next set of themes and sat down with a slice of cheesecake to mull them over. Immediately I noticed that the next check-in was at 5pm at Lloyd Caffee again in the Überseestadt near the Europahafen. Doh! Well at least I had time to make my way back out there. But first, I decided on this shot in Schwachhausen near the Botanical Garden. The sign reads: private path, not a thruway.
After reaching the city center again, I headed straight to another well-known boat that serves as a restaurant and is always anchored in the Weser along Bremen’s Schlachte — a true Stadtpflanze!
My final photo of this set was composed along the train tracks in the industrial section of the city’s harbor area. I took my inspiration from those adventurous souls hitching rides on freight trains. Again, with plenty of time to spare before the deadline for the next check-in, I wandered around the Kaffeequartier and took some non-Fotomarathon photos of the loads of cargo containers. Now that’s my idea of heaven!
Check-in point 2 – Lloyd Caffee, 5 pm
Picking up the final set of themes, I immediately head back into the city. Continuing with my transportation motif, my next photo was overlooking Bremen’s main train station — most definitely the city’s pulsing hot spot.
Ok, around this point, I was starting to feel the effects of many hours on my feet and my inspiration was lagging. Looking up, at the front of the main train station. Please don’t ask me what that has to do with the photo’s theme!
Finally, I headed into the heart of Bremen: the Markplatz. I definitely wasn’t the only Fotomarathoner with the same idea. There were several of us propped up on the stairs across from the Rathaus to get a good view of the square. Unfortunately, we all waited there quite a long time for a good shot because an ugly white van was ruining the shot for at least 20 minutes. Good thing I was still ahead of schedule!
The Finish Line – noon, 8 pm
Nine hours after the start, I was at “noon” in the Viertel for the final check-in. I took a few minutes to select my favorite photos for each of the themes for the day before handing my SD-card over to be scanned. Geschafft! (No editing was allowed and all photos had to be in the same order as the themes were given out.)
Another fun, but exhausting Fotomarathon under my belt! I was so glad to be able to participate this time in my own backyard and have a chance to explore all of Bremen’s different sides. I also became a fan of the 9 themes, 9 photos, 9 hours structure — somehow it felt much more manageable and less hectic than the other Fotomarathons I participated in.
A Photo Exhibition
Now I can’t wait to see how everyone else interpreted the themes and faced the day’s challenge! If you’re in Bremen this weekend, all photos are being exhibited at Schuppen Eins (Konsul-Smidt-Straße 20-26) and admission is free:
- Samstag, 10. Oktober, 11 bis 20 Uhr / 15 Uhr Preisverleihung
- Sonntag, 11. Oktober, 10 bis 18 Uhr
Maybe I’ll see you there?