12 Hours, 12 Photos: Enter the 2013 Vancouver Photo Marathon

Photo credit: Nokton | Flickr

Photo credit: Nokton | Flickr

Are you suffering from digital photo overload?  Are all the shots of food trucks, cute kittens and sunsets on Instagram and Facebook starting to look like one big blur?  Do you yearn for the days when you had one roll of film and had to make each picture count?

Then the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon, Aug. 31, may be for you.  The unique photography contest, now in its fifth year, gives participants a single 12-exposure roll of film and 12 hours.  The mission: Take the 12 best photos you can – no retakes, no do-overs, no Photoshop.  In other words, each and every picture has to be postcard-perfect.

The only requirement for the contest, which is open to both hobbyists and pros, is that you own an old-fashioned 35mm camera (though I’m not really sure where you’d find one of those these days).  The contest kicks off at 10 a.m. sharp.  Every hour, on the hour, a new photo theme will be randomly selected.  Participants have one hour to capture that theme to its fullest – using just one exposure.  Then, it’s on to the next theme.

When the clock strikes 10 p.m., completed rolls of film will be collected.  After negatives are developed and judged, some 700 of the best photos will be displayed at a free public exhibit, where the winner will be announced.

For compulsive shutterbugs, who come back from holidays with thousands of digital photos to sort through, the marathon can be a liberating experience.  “It has encouraged me to become more decisive in the way I photograph,” said 2012’s winner, Ryan Mah.  ” . . . what stays in or out of the frame becomes crucial in telling a compelling story.”

The 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon is Saturday, Aug. 31, starting at 10 a.m. at the JJ Bean at 2206 Commercial Drive.  Tickets ($36 on Eventbrite) go on sale at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, and sell out fast.  (How fast? Last year’s marathon sold out in one minute!).

Have you participated in the Vancouver Photo Marathon?  What was it like? 

For more updates on events in Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.  

Tagged: , , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

8 Responses to 12 Hours, 12 Photos: Enter the 2013 Vancouver Photo Marathon

  1. Tia

    Fantastic event – made me fall in love with film all over again. It’s a real challenge and an hour for that one perfect shot can often feel too short. So much fun! (Icing on the cake: met the love of my life at last year’s event :-) )

  2. I really hope I will be able to beat the 1 minute sell out time and snag a ticket!

  3. Huh?

    So, what are the tickets for? To enter? Or to view the gallery of finalists?

    • A ticket gives you entry into the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon. There are 60 spots available and it allows you to compete officially, have your photos developed, judged, and then showcased at the exhibit. Super fun!

  4. For anyone wondering where you can find a good 35mm camera these days, it is surprisingly easy: I always tell people first to ask their parents, relatives, and neighbours. More often than not they have a 35mm SLR lying around they are more than happy to get rid of or at least rent out. And if that fails you can find great 35mm gear for very reasonable prices in many camera stores including Kerrisdale Cameras (one of this year’s sponsors).

  5. 2-time participant. It really makes you think long & hard on the right shot — since there’s no delete button. It gives each shot a lot more impact as opposed to a 10-20 frame burst and hoping you got the right shot. It definitely tests you physically, mentally and artistically.

    It’s always neat to see the various cameras of yesteryear participants shoot with.

    Do make sure your camera is tested and good to go. You do not want to end up with 12 black frames (speaking from experience)

    I want in for the 3rd time — for redemption. *fingers crossed*

  6. Having participated twice I can say this is one of the most grueling mental exercises that you could possibly put yourself through but the satisfaction of taking that last photo at the end of the day is so gratifying.

    In addition to taking one shot for each of the twelve themes, photos are also judged as an overall series. So if you’re really up for the challenge each photo doesn’t just need to interpret the theme, but also relate to the other photos that you may or may not have taken yet.

    The 12×12 event is 12 full hours of meeting new people, talking about photography, and pulling your hair out 12 times as each theme is revealed.

  7. Sam

    Here comes the dilemma.
    Big heavy fancy SLR with lenses and accessories. This will allow you to get the photo you want with a greater measure of technical “perfection.” The price you pay is that after 5 hours…you will want to DIE and not move more than 10 steps from “base camp.”


    Ultra light compact 35mm camera. This lets you range for and wide in your search for the image…as well as let you shoot more unobtrusively. But you will only have one lens and much less flexibility in terms of having that perfect lens for the shot.

    Yes…I wonder how many seconds we will have this year to get that elusive ticket :) Please let my Internet work :D