Yesterday was the second ever Bremer Fotomarathon and of course I was there! If you remember from last year, it’s a photo challenge — 1 City, 9 Hours, 9 Photos. The basic idea is to take nine photos pertaining to nine themes which you receive at various check-in points throughout the day. At the end of the day, you submit nine photos which need to be in the correct order and cannot have been edited. (This is already my fourth Fotomarathon — two were in Berlin — check out my previous reports!)
Start – Kulturzentrum Schlachthof, 11:00 am
Although it was a rainy morning, nearly 300 participants showed up at the Schlachthof to take part (see if you can spot me in this group photo). We received a card stating the themes for the first three photos, as well as the time and location for the first check-in point. I immediately found a quiet spot and sat down to organize my bag and my thoughts.
Although nine photos in nine hours is certainly challenging, it’s nothing compared to the 24 photos in 12 hours of the Berlin Fotomarathons, so I guess that bit of perspective makes the Fotomarathon Bremen seem totally manageable. But I still wanted to change my strategy for this year: conserve time and energy by focusing on surrounding locations or locations that are on the way to the next check-in point. (Last year I ended up traveling twice to the Überseestadt, which was a huge time suck.) And invest that extra time and energy into taking better photos!
1. Fliegender Start / Flying start
The first photo is often the most difficult because it requires your start number to be a part of the picture. I wandered over to the main train station to see if I could find some inspiration. But I couldn’t come up with a creative way to incorporate the number 159, nor did I find the number anywhere “in the wild” to photograph. So I took a photo of my number with my iPhone “flying” in front of a train. I definitely won’t win any bonus points for creativity with this one, but oh well.
2. In die Hufe Kommen / Hurry up, don’t waste time
By the way, all of the given themes are idiomatic phrases that you can either interpret literally or figuratively for your photos. I generally found the figurative meanings to be more interesting to photograph, but not always. With my second photo I wanted to capture the hustle and bustle of the main train station. Although I put up a fight after being scolded by security for taking photos on an overlook without having express permission of each and every person in the photo (never mind that their faces were not recognizable), it kind of killed my mood. So I went outside and starting looking for another way to capture it. Not quite the same as what I envisioned, but you get the idea.
3. Boxenstopp / Pit stop
I started off by taking photos of the coffee I was drinking to refuel, but I wasn’t so happy with the results. So I headed up in the direction of the next check-in point to look for a bit of inspiration on the Uni Bremen campus. Although I spent nearly five years working at Uni Bremen, I haven’t been back in at least a year, so I was immediately struck by these red lounge chairs strewn throughout the campus. Perfect!
Check-in Point 1 – Universum, 2:00 pm
I arrived at the first check-in point with half-an-hour to spare, picked up the next card of themes and sat myself down with a doughnut to mull them over. Since entrance to the Universum was included with our Fotomarathon entry, I did consider flying through the exhibits in search of inspiration, but in the end decided against it in favor of staying outside.
4. In der Luft hängen / Hanging in the air
Since I’d already walked through the university campus on my way to the check-point, I’d already scouted a few possibilities for photos and knew immediately that I would want to photograph this tower for my fourth photo. But a quick decision did not make for a quick photo! I must have spent at least half an hour trying out various angles and waiting for the clouds to pass and let some blue sky show.
5. Balanceakt / Balancing act
And then it was back to Universum to capture the famous building balancing on the water.
6. Großer Wurf / To achieve something out of the ordinary
After seeing that our second check-in point would be near the Weser Stadion, I knew I wanted to use the stadium for my photo. Although you could argue that Werder Bremen hasn’t really fit this theme over the last few seasons, the fans’ hope for a Großen Wurf (literally, a big throw) never ceases to amaze me. This shot was taken while standing between the solar panels and the stadium itself.
Check-in Point 2 – Galaxy – Henschenbusch, 5:00 pm
From the stadium, I walked over to the next check-in point. By this time, my bag was feeling extra heavy, my shoulders were aching, and I was overly warm now that the sun had decided to shine. The final set of themes frustrated me the most so I decided not to overthink them and simply set out in the direction of the Osterdeich (an embankment along the Weser river).
7. Von der Rolle / Exhausted, confused
As opposed to the other photos, I decided on the literal interpretation of this theme (from the roll) as soon as I saw this construction site near the stadium.
In case you’re wondering, a Deichbremse (or literally, embankment brake) is a special stool that was invented for the express purpose of sitting horizontally on a steep embankment. For my photo, I instead decided on the small garden houses that line the Weser river, providing a small break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
9. Endspurt / Final push
Once I was already at Osterdeich (along with seemingly every other participant), the small boat which ferries passengers from one side of the river to the other seemed like a natural choice for my final photo.
Finish Line – Kunsthalle, 8:00 pm
Finished! Well, almost. First I had to sort through the nearly 200 photos and narrow down my favorites for the nine to be submitted. Although my motifs were clearly decided upon as a I went along, now I had to figure out which shots were my favorites. It was slow going, but luckily I had time to spare and could relax a bit at Coffee Corner before walking over to the art museum. Handing over my SD-card so that my photos could be copied over, I was admittedly a bit nervous but also ready to call it a day. After a nice glass of wine and equally nice conversation, I made it home exhausted a bit before 9 pm.
In total, I was on the go for about 10 hours and walked nearly 8 miles over the course of the day (not including the tram and bus rides I took to reach the first and second check-in points). My strategy to keep myself focused in terms of location worked out wonderfully and I always had plenty of time and never felt rushed (much unlike my first ever Fotomarathon where we were frantically selecting photos in a cab on the way to the final check-in point).
Intrigued? On October 15th and 16th, there will be a free exhibition in the Hafenmuseum Speicher XI of the pictures taken during the Fotomarathon so you can see for yourself how these themes were interpreted! Click here for more information.
Would you ever participate in a Fotomarathon? Or does it just seem like way too much stress?
For more reports on the Fotomarathon, check out: