24in24 | St Albans Film Festival 2021

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

So when my friend John suggested I take part in the fun 24in24 competition I had no idea what it was. It turns out it's an annual event run by St Albans Film Festival and you have 24 hours to take 24 photos. It sounds simple right? But you are given a list of 24 items at 11am and you have to be creative and find images of all 24 items, edit and email your entry by 11am the next day.

I set off with full confidence, but when I reviewed the list I realised it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. The theme this year was Food & Drink, so each of the 24 items had something do with either eating or food itself. I didn't want to just go to a food shop and take photos of all the items, so spent quite a while wandering around the town centre, getting inspiration, before I started taking my photos.

I'd like to say thank you to all the lovely people I met along the way. I would also like to shout out to Wes, a homeless guy who I ended up chatting to. I asked him if there was anything he needed, he said [very politely] some wet wipes. I looked a little curious, but said of course. He then said he wanted to clean himself. By the time I'd walked up to Superdrug and back to the corner of The Maltings, where he was sitting, he'd already gone or been moved on. I did keep an eye out for him for the rest of the day, but no luck. It put my day in perspective and I'm sorry if the council have a policy of moving people on, I'm not sure that is the answer to homelessness.....

The list items 1-8 were as follows:

1. FARM: Considering I didn't have time to visit an actual farm, the only place I knew that had anything related to farm or farming was of course the iconic Neon Sheep that has a pink neon sheep welcoming customers into the store.

2. HUNGER: By about 3pm I hadn't stopped and was feeling tired and hungry. I stopped at a super stall on the market "Chrissy's Cupcakes" selling brownies and cupcakes. I knew I wanted to take an image of me eating something, and to be honest, the brownies looked [and tasted] incredible! I met two other 24in24 photographers there too, I think they were taking photos of cupcakes for one of their entries......

3. TAKEAWAY: Walking up into the town from the Cathedral is the Verdun Tree, a horse chestnut tree towering over a commemorative war memorial bench. The beginnings of this tree hold a.truly memorable story. The Battle of Verdum was one of the bloodiest battles of WW1 when 250,000 French and German troops were killed. In 1976, an 87 year old WW1 veteran planted a conker collected from the only tree to survive the tragic battle. It acts as a living memorial to all those who lost their lives. Underneath this incredible tree, stands a war memorial bench. As I walked passed, I thought the couple sitting eating their takeaway lunch seemed so relaxed in their environment and peacefully away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Thanks to Simon and Sue for letting me take their photo.

4. BREAKFAST: This was the last shot of the session, taken the morning before hand-in. We had only three eggs left for breakfast so it was a make or break shot - we broke one out of the three eggs, so not too bad an effort!

5. GREED: This was a tricky one to take for me, so I sat in the market for a while just to watch people and how they were consuming everything around them. It made me question so many things. How many clothes do we need to buy for ourselves? How much food to we eat versus what we throw away? Does our greed create waste? How greedy are we? How much waste do we throw out? Hence, my image of greed is a pile of rubbish.

6. CELEBRATION: This was one of my first photographs. I'd just walked up to the Cathedral and chatted to a few people about what was happening. Graduation Day. I totally loved the colours of these gowns against the Cathedral stone, what a very happy celebratory day for everyone involved.

7. DAIRY: This is one of my favourite images, I loved this couple just enjoying the peace and the delicious ice creams at Darlish, but what I loved the most was the giant ice cream cone in soft grey. Normally these sort of props are bright and garish.

8. TREAT: This was an easy one, in theory, to photograph, but I just didn't want to take a photo of a cake. I was drawn in by one particular shop, Cositas. Down the side of the store was an alleyway [The Village Arcade] decorated with lots of bunting. On the windows down the side of the alley, Cositas had written lovely messages on the window. "Treat yourself" was a lovely treat message....

The list items 9-16 were as follows:

9. MENU: There were menus everywhere, but I liked how this looked through the front glass at Crepe Affair caught my eye. Always a sucker for a neon sign.

10. SUGAR: So this character is a well known regular on the market place, and apparently an ex-bank manager. He's warm, friendly and very happy for me to photograph him. Thanks Keith! Sugar comes in so many forms, but at the end of the day all it is is a sweetener.... Eat Whole Foods

11. CUPPA: I've just been up to Northumberland visiting friends, and popped in to RE in Corbridge. A wonderful shop filled with interesting vintage interiors. They sell these incredible large mugs - I've had several and broken a few, so I was there restocking. This is "my" new mug, a cuppa of hot brewed tea.

12. PREPARE: This image of the visitors doorbell was unexpected, but I loved it. Truly a family well prepared for guests!

13. 5-A-DAY: Too obvious to put five different fruit and veg together? When I saw this sign for strawberries, 2 for £3, all I saw was 2+3 = 5. My GSE Maths coming to the forefront of my photography career!!

14. CHEF: Introducing Harry, the Peruvian chef at Peru Sabo at the Clock Tower. Not only was I mesmerised by the speed at which he cooked eight orders at once, but he was smiley, happy and positively upbeat the entire time! Of course I ordered one. And I can say the chicken wrap was DELICIOUS!!!

15. HEALTHY: I always try to eat healthily, but often I am distracted by things around me. I loved The Beauty House Champneys Health Spa in the reflection of this mirror hanging on a hat stall in the market.

16 PICNIC: This is the only image taken as a B&W, which I thought worked better to show the magnificent windows of the Cathedral. This group of young people looked like they were having a great Saturday afternoon.

The list items 17-24 were as follows:

17. SANDWICH: An easy photograph to take, but I wanted to find something else that was sandwiched together. When I woke up this morning to make my morning brew, I'd forgotten I'd put a card here in the bread boards. Totally random, but just the sort of thing I would do....

18. SNACK: We all love a snack. I love peanut M&Ms and can never only take one, I always "have" to take a handful....

19. PINT: I'm not a big fan of pints of beer, so I tried to find something different. I loved the painting of the Fresian cows that is hanging on the fences next to the Cathedral. It reminded me of pints of milk.

20. PUB: I tried so hard to take a photo of The Boot it has an iconic red telephone box underneath its pub sign. But I just couldn't get the shot, too many people, sky too white and bright, too many commercial bins in the way..... so I was a little disappointed. However wandering behind The White Swan, their backdoor was open and I just loved how quirky the wall was with the decor and lighting. Very inviting!

21. SPOONS: Another obvious photograph, so I thought about this one. My son talks about "Spoons" quite a bit, he means WEATHERSPOON pubs, which in St Albans is the Waterend Barn , so a bit of a fun photo in honour of my son....

22. VEGETARIAN: What a lovely, light and airy restaurant at the Museum. I asked the staff first if I could take a photo and they were so accommodating. The image worked so well as the staff were preparing the food just behind the word I wanted to capture "CARROT".- so big thank you to the team at the Museum cafe. By the way, the food looked incredible.

23. RESTAURANT: I wanted to take an image of a working restaurant, without being intrusive. The beautiful roses in the foreground acted as my "hide". This is such a pretty place, Abigails.

24. ICE: Late summer and nowhere can I see ice! I was thinking out of the box for this one... Frost's For Sale sign reminded me of Jack Frost and he always brings the ice....

I'm not sure when the results will be out, but I will be keeping an eye on the St Albans Film Festival website and look forward to seeing how everyone else translated these 24 words! I love photography as every one of us sees things in a different way. Each photograph is as interesting and unique as the next!

Here is my full gallery...... enjoy!

Emma x

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