Saturday, April 14, 2012


The world is invited to take photos of their lives on this coming May 15 and submit them to a global documentary project called Backed by Desmund Tutu and Swedish pop-star Robyn, among others, the effort aims to create a crowdsourced snapshot of the world on that particular day.
“There are so many great things that will never reach the front pages,” says Jeppe Wikstrom, the cofounder of the project. “There is rarely time for those everyday moments even though those moments count.”
To make sure people have some guidance on where to point their cameras, is suggesting photographers shoot a photo that falls within one of three broad categories: home, work or connections.
“Everyone with a camera is longing for a purpose and we want to help people who want to participate but don’t know what to go for,” he says.
The photos will then be uploaded to a single place online, creating a global photographic archive of the world over a single day. (Bonus points to the first person who calculates how many hours that will be across all time zones.) In addition to the archive, will also produce a book and global exhibit that features a selection of the photos. The photos will be hosted on Amazon and will be searchable so they can be mined for educational projects down the road. Anyone who contributes a photo retains his or her copyright.
In addition to cloud hosting, will also be storing its own version of the digital photos, plus copies of the book and hard copies of some of the photos in an old copper mine in Sweden. Wikstrom says he looks at the storage as a kind of secure time capsule for future generations, which he hopes can also benefit from the project.
“Pictures from our life are one of the thing that we cherish the most,” he says. “And if you don’t preserve them they’re gone.”
The project has brought together a host of international photographers, political leaders and celebrities in an attempt to transcend cultural and geographical barriers that separate the world’s population.
“We somehow think everyone in Africa is starving and we assume that everyone in China rides a bike,” says Wikstrom.
Wikstrom led a similar project in 2003 called “A Day in the Life of Sweden” that he says captured a surprising number of intimate and important moments that would have never otherwise have been seen. It’s the latest of many of these types of projects, including Rick Smolan’s A Day in the Life series of photobooks, the ongoing One Day on Earth projectThe New York Times‘ A Moment in Time andAmerica 24/7 (for which Wired’s online photo director, Jim Merithew, was a photographer and editor).
To organize, Wikstrom and many others have been working tirelessly for two and half years, and in the process helped found a Stockholm-based nonprofit called Expressions of Humankind that he says will continue to do work around photography.
Desmond Tutu and Robyn are joined by a host of other famous people in backing the project — people such as former Irish president Mary Robinson and astronaut Andre Kuipers. Many of the celebrity supporters will be contributing their own photos on May 15, including Kuipers, who is currently at the International Space Station.
Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, the former editor in chief of MAGNUM Photos will serve as’s editor in chief, and Sander Goudswaard, a former online coordinator at the World Press Photo headquarters in Amsterdam, will be the project manager.
While ambitious, Wikstrom says he’s calling a sort of 21st-century update to “The Family of Man,” the famous 1955 global photography exhibit curated by Edward Steichen. That exhibit, still one of the most famous of all time, had a similar purpose of using photography to create a global awareness of people’s shared humanity.
But in “The Family of Man,” some of the project’s photos didn’t make the final exhibit, and some might say that was a good thing. For better or worse, will display every photo on its website and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can see them.
“Steichen might have loved to show all the photography but it was wasn’t physically possible in those days,” Wikstrom says.
While not a new idea,’s potential to make an impact is not diminished. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying on the project’s website, “Pictures transcend the barriers of language, age, gender and culture. If we are to improve understanding between people, it is important to share the way we live and who we are.”

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