30 years later -- capturing 24 hours of Humboldt photos

Humboldt photo book cover

Sept.19, 2017

Thirty years ago, over 100 photographers spread out across Humboldt County to photograph the people, places and events on Friday, Oct. 23, 1987.  To celebrate that project’s 30-year anniversary, photographers of all skill levels are invited to again photograph Humboldt County on Friday, Oct. 20.

The original project was coordinated by HSU journalism faculty Wayne Miller and Mark Larson. “Our goal was to produce a book of photographs about the county, inspired by the “Day in the Life of America book” with one major difference,” said Larson.  “We wanted the majority of the photographers documenting the people, places and events of a typical day to be amateurs.”

The 2017 documentary project will be similar to that completed 30 years ago, said Larson.  “Our goal then and now is to provide a historical accounting of what a typical day was like in Humboldt County. On Friday, Oct. 20, we want to invite photographers of all skill levels and with all types of digital cameras to look for ‘extraordinary photographs of ordinary events’ – the advice offered in the original ‘Day in the Life of America” project.’

“Many important and dramatic differences in photography have developed since 1987,” said Larson. “Back then, we only had film cameras and no one carried around a phone with a camera inside it.  Participants submitted over 900 B&W and color prints to be evaluated.  Now it will be far easier for more photographers to participate and they will submit digital image JPEG files via email.

“What remains the same, I hope, is for the participants to reflect a cross section of Humboldt County in terms of age, gender, occupation, cultural background and photography abilities.  We want the photographs to help viewers, as Wayne said back in 1987, ‘learn something about the people of Humboldt County – not just the way they dressed or where they worked, but what they thought, too – a mini-biographical sketch.’”

The submitted photographs will be reviewed by a panel of photo editors selected from the community and 24 images will be printed to be shown in December at the F Street Foto Gallery in Eureka. “We’ll have an opening reception on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m. as part of Arts Alive! at the gallery above Swanlund’s Camera,” said Larson.  “All of the submitted images will be projected on a screen during the reception. Eventually, we will think about creating an e-book and a digital archive of all of the photos submitted for the project.”

In 1988, Miller edited and published a paperback photo book about the project called “The people, places and events of Humboldt County, a 24-hour photodocumentary project.” The first press run sold out immediately and only 50 copies remain of a second press run. Copies of the 1987 “Humboldt County” photo book will be available for a donation at the opening reception.

“Ideally it would be interesting to photograph some of the same people and scenes from 1987,” said Larson, who recommends photographers look at the 1987 book for ideas. Copies of the 1987 book are available to be checked out at county public libraries and one copy is on reserve at the HSU library.

Photographers interested in participating should check out “The 2017 people, places and events of Humboldt County, a 24-hour photodocumentary project” page on Facebook or contact Larson by email at marklarsonphoto@gmail.com or by phone at 707-845-6670.

Photographers are invited to cover the entire geographic region of the county and for each of the 24 hours of the day. To be included in the project, photographers are required to collect caption information (Who/What/When/Where/Why) for each photo and include that caption information either in the image file metadata or in the email when submitting the attached photo.

Each photographer is allowed to submit from one to five photographs with captions via email by Monday, Oct. 30 to: hctyphotoproject@gmail.com  .

”I wish the late Wayne Miller (1946-1994) could be with us this year to celebrate this project’s 30th anniversary,” said now-retired Larson. “Wayne had worked for every newspaper in Humboldt County and did a great job teaching photojournalism for us at HSU.”

Tech info about submitting jpegs:

• must be a flattened (no layers) JPEG, maximum file size of 10 MB.

• must have been taken during the 24 hours of Oct. 20, 2017.