This is the sixth of nine interviews that Sheldon Serkin has completed with photographers involved with the incredible 24HourProject, please see his introductory 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 our new column StreetWise, here.
This one is with Grace Brignolle …
Who are you, both in real life and on instragram?
Grace Brignolle, aka @icstreets_nyc on Instagram. I am self-employed, running my own business full time. I’m also a mother, and have recently become a grandmother.
Image – @icstreets_nyc
‘As I was getting close to shoot this person the hand came out, it was something unexpected’.
What city did you document?
The city that never sleeps, New York City.
Why do you participate in this project?
I am fortunate to live in one of the most complex and diverse cities on earth, where people from an astounding range of divergent backgrounds and cultures exist in close proximity, thus just about any situation imaginable can be found on the streets of New York. With that in mind, this year’s theme, “the human condition,” was something I found irresistibly intriguing.
I know that you’ve participated in past years as well. Is participation in the 24 Hour Project now an annual thing for you? Why?
Yes, at the moment, annual participation is something I would like to continue. In addition to the challenge, it’s fun. Plus, I get to meet up with several of my closest friends, who also participate. It’s a project that forces you to discard your normal shooting routines, while exploring areas and ideas which are not always considered under ordinary circumstances
How did you approach the project this year? Did you plan where to go or have an idea about what you wanted to document, or did you just let fate decide as you wandered through the streets?
There is a Mike Tyson quote “Everybody’s got plans…until they get hit”. Yes, we start off with a general plan of operation, but it’s always good to be open and spontaneous because things happen quickly on the street, and they don’t always fit into your plans.
Image – @icstreets_nyc
‘He asked to get paid’.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the 24 hours this year?
Here in New York, the weather was a factor for a good part of the day. It snowed from midnight through daybreak, leaving the streets cold, damp and slippery. It probably forced some of the more active elements of the city’s nightlife indoors as well. So, staying in motion to avoid the chill, while finding fresh scenes during the A.M. hours, in particular, was very challenging.
Do you feel like the time pressure was beneficial to your creativity this year, or did it just make you nervous and diminish the quality of your images slightly?
Once I was out there, committed to the project, it was all about the photos. If anything, I was more anxious than nervous. I knew that I would have something to upload every hour, but I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just throwing junk up there in order to meet a requirement. Ultimately, I just tried to find my zone and remain within it.
Did you develop a workflow for every hour in order to manage uploading your next image in time?
Editing was done on-the-fly. When I wasn’t shooting, I was weeding out the undesirables and editing the ones that had potential. When I wasn’t on the move, I was uploading and managing my battery power.
How was your experience this year different from last year? Did you alter your approach at all? If yes, what did you change and how did it work out for you?
Since I had participated previously, I knew just how demanding this activity would be, and so I tried to pace myself more responsibly this year. You can’t take every picture out there, and you can’t stay on your feet for 24 hours straight without pacing yourself properly. You have to listen to your body and think rationally most of the time. I was still exhausted in the end, but less so than last year.
Image – @icstreets_nyc
‘Originally, this was to be a photo of a woman walking with a cane as she passed by the wall of street art in the background. I was pleasantly surprised when another person walked into the frame and decided to make eye contact. I love this moment the most, she cursed me out !!!’
Did you follow the IG feeds of other excellent photographers taking part in the project while you were out shooting?
I viewed the photos of other IG shooters after the project was completed. As selfish as it sounds, I’m just too absorbed within my own head while I’m out there shooting, and viewing the work of others can be an interference. Okay…I peeked once or twice, but really, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Save the reviewing for later. The photos aren’t going anywhere.
What was your secret to staying up so long?
Absolute stubborn determination. I was going to complete this project even if I had to be held up by crutches while using toothpicks to keep my eyelids open. Strategic coffee and sugar stops and the strong social bond of my good friends who were also part of this, helped as well.
Was there a point when you considered giving up and going home? Did you walk the whole 24 hours?
There was one point toward the end. It involved an unexpected personal matter. Fortunately everything turned out alright. The only time I wasn’t on foot was when I took public transportation from one location to the next, stopped for refreshments, or the unavoidable bathroom trips. Otherwise, it was mostly walking.
Image – @icstreets_nyc
‘It was the back light in the cellar that got my attention as I passed this young man carrying a case of wine up the stairs. It reminded me of a modern day prohibition era scene.He caught me taking his pic and said “Let me know when I become FAMOUS”.
Please share your 3 favorite images from the day and talk about why they are your favorites.
All of the above.
What were some thoughts that ran through your mind when you were finally able to crash into bed?
I didn’t have time to think. I believe I fell asleep before a thought could cross my mind.
Any final thoughts?
Yes. Many of the greatest rewards in life are not monetary. Some of the most rewarding things we do involve personal achievements, setting out to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, which result in great personal satisfaction once our goals have been reached. For me, this is what the 24 Hour Project is all about. Yes, it’s about the photographs and the camaraderie and getting out of your comfort zone, etc. But ultimately, just being able to say, “I did it,” even if no one else ever hears me say it, is personally very satisfying for me.