Photography News | Issue 35 | absolutephoto.com
Retina Photomarathon One of the centrepieces of the Retina Festival was the Photomarathon. The concept is not new by any means, but it was to Retina when volunteer Jennifer Wood suggested it to organiser, Roddy McRae, after a couple of glasses of wine. “Some recent Photomarathon events have allowed participants to use their own digital cameras. However, we wanted Retina’s version to focus on being creative with ideas and composition, and to be inspiring and inclusive,” said Jen. “So by ensuring everyone uses the same camera in our Photomarathon event, we can really stay true to that idea.” People paid £20 to enter and were given a 12-exposure single-use camera. At the start, four topics were announced and the entrants had to shoot one frame on each topic in order – the topics were kept secret but had room for interpretation and creativity. Four hours later, another four themes were announced and the process repeated at 6pm. At the end of the allotted time, entrants had to return to the starting point and hand in their cameras. “We asked photographers involved in the festival for their theme suggestions,” explained Jen. “Kareem Black went for the word cacophony but we also had pink and bicycle as themes. The first theme was for entrants to photograph their number which was given to them at the start to help identify their film. People got very creative – one chap laid out 120 Smarties to illustrate his number. “People got so into the event. Because shots had to be in order and it was only one shot per theme people tried to get the perfect shot and got annoyed when they saw a better picture ten minutes after taking their shot. There was such a buzz. “Cameras were still being returned right up until 10pm. Unfortunately, due to a fault with all the cameras, the last frame did not come out. The theme was old meets new and one chap cycled 15 miles to get his shot.
“From the cameras every frame was printed on an A2 sheet for the exhibition and that included pictures of thumbs, misfires and pictures taken with no flash. “We got the Festival photographers to judge the contest and pick the 11 winners of the Photomarathon. “There was such great feedback. People who have lived all their lives in Edinburgh said they saw the city in a new way and shooting filmmade them think about their photography. One person said ‘22,600 steps of fun, laughter, exploring parts of Edinburgh I have never seen.’ I think we will definitely do this again next year.”
From left to right: Roddy McRae, Retina’s chairman; Jennifer Wood, volunteer; and Rhian Howells, director
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