This is the sixth of ten interviews that Laura has completed with photographers involved with the incredible 24HourProject, please see her introduction article here. We have put each interview into a separate article so that it’s easier for you to navigate, they can all be found under Laura’s Column StreetVIEW here.
This one is with Grace Brignolle …
Image – ©Grace Brignolle
What is your name, both real and Instagram ?
My name is Grace Brignolle and my Instagram user name is ICstreets_NY
Was this the first time you participated in this exciting 24 hour project, or have you taken part in previous years as well?
I participated last year but only as a guest photographer and in that I only completed 12 hours of the project. You figure walking around with other photographers would be enough to keep you going but the mental and physical toll had its way and I left at the 12 hour mark.
What city where you able to document?
The notion of documenting New York City intrigued me. I mean 24 hours of walking around and trying to capture snippets of peoples lives, or situations, whether happy or sad, was a challenge I wanted to meet head on.
What inspired you, or drove you to take part in this project, i mean walking around 24 hours is not for the faint hearted!
What drove me was my passion for street photography. Out of any other form of photography, it is the electricity that the street has, the countless narratives that the street has that drives me continually. I daily try to prove to myself that I have the courage, the drive, the passion and commitment to do it well.
Did you plan where to go or did you have an idea what you wanted to document, or did you just let fate decide as you wandered through the streets?
Last year when I participated as a guest photographer the people I was shooting with shot in generally high photographed areas and let fate decide where they would go. I work best when I have things planned out (nothing strict but fluid), so I worked on a route that would take me through various parts of the city. I started out in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, then on to the Meat packing district in the West Side, straight up to Penn Station and Port Authority , across to Grand Central Terminal (all three being major intercity train stations and commuter rail hubs). Made a detour to Central Park, then it was onto Brooklyn to explore Coney Island and some of outlying communities (If time permitted) then back into Manhattan to finish the final leg of the project.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the 24 hours?
Because I didn’t have a frame of reference for the 24hrs other than carrying extra external batteries for my IPhone, snacks, liquids, extra clothing for when the temps would dip at night and that was it. The biggest challenge I felt was going to be finding interesting things to photograph, especially in the wee hours of the night.
Image – ©Grace Brignolle
Do you feel like the time pressure was beneficial to your creativity, or did it just make you nervous and diminish the quality of your images slightly?
To post a picture every hour for 24 hours was a challenge for sure, but this is where you had to push your creativity. Another challenging aspect was showing tangibles in a photograph and to be honest with the moment that drew you to hit the shutter. You’re not just looking to post “any old thing” but something different, thought provoking. You find yourself scanning the streets for something to “catch your eye”, you want nothing forced because it’ll come across in the photograph.There were times where finding interesting subjects or scenes to shoot was becoming scarce, I would become irritated, impatient and nervous because posting time was drawing near but fortunately everything would work out.
Did you develop a work flow for every hour in order to manage uploading your next image in time?
Nothing was planned. I would group some potential photographs, edit them and determine which one would make the cut for that particular hour.
Be honest, did you by any chance cheat a little by processing a few pictures in advance in order to rest a bit?
Yes, I did that once for the 22nd post. I wasn’t functioning well and running on fumes, I just saw everything as lifeless and nothing was drawing me.
Did you follow the IG feed of other excellent photographers taking part in the competition? You know, to check on your “competition”!
I didn’t look at it as competition “with others” per se, but competition with myself. I’m familiar with some of the other participants in the project and their work and I knew that they would be coming strong and I wanted to do the same. I know my style, my strengths and capabilities and I wanted to demonstrate quality work and to express that in a genuine manner and I think I hit my goal.
What was your secret to staying up so long? Energy drinks? Coffees? Pure determination? Fruit smoothies perhaps?
Besides having good support from my friend @shelserkin (he was the other photographer who joined me) I didn’t eat or drink that much. I walked around with a bottle of water (to maintain hydrated) and a bunch of chocolate (for energy) and I/we would eat when we were hungry. We had coffee a couple of times but nothing out of the ordinary. It may surprise you but you’re so “zoned in” on looking for the next shot that hours would pass by and you’d forget about eating or drinking.
Image – ©Grace Brignolle
Would you take part in this again next year?
I certainly would. I’ve always been enticed by challenges and competitions, but to be able to participate and compete with some of the top IG street photographers takes it to another level; it gives me an adrenaline rush.
Was it a point when you considered giving up and going home? Did you walk the whole 24 hours?
There were times when I thought of giving up, for sure, but you quickly dismissed the notion. I figured that I needed to capture “24 moments” and as I would post them and that magic number would decrease and those negative thoughts would rear itself , i would simply state, “I can’t give up, I’ve got X number of shots to go” and I would keep going.
As far as walking, yes, I basically walked the entire time. If I needed to take a break or eat we would simply find a bench or a coffee shop, and rest up.
What were some thoughts that ran through your mind when you were finally able to crash into bed?
I couldn’t believe that I actually did this. I accomplished this project and will be able to tell stories to my future grandchildren.I was drained physically and emotionally but I was thankful for the moment !!!