By Mal McCann
I am delighted to be the Belfast Ambassador for the 24hour Project, an initiative that was the idea of Renzo Grande – a photographer from Peru but now living in New York.
I first met Renzo at the MojoFest conference in Galway in 2018. The Mojo conference is billed as a ‘celebration’ of the ever-expanding smart phone content creator community. Mojo, short for Mobile Journalism, is the brainchild of Glen Mulcahy – another legend in this field.
Renzo was there to talk and promote the 24hour Project and, after listening to his passionate presentation, I was eager to get involved.
Coronavirus restrictions meant it could not take place in 2020. I am glad to see the Project return this year, permitting me to not only take part but also act as the ambassador for the city of Belfast. It’s my role to connect photographers of all levels, amateur or professional. We will all be shooting with smart phones or digital cameras to document humanity in our city, while also trying to make difference by raising awareness about global issues and empowering NGOs.
Participants shoot and share one photo per hour during 24 hours on July 24 using their social media profiles and the various 24hour Project tags.
As Belfast still retains historical divisions over identity, it is important to bring together photographers from all backgrounds to document our city. It’s going to be a challenge physically and mentally, and the pressure is complicated by the difficulties of travelling around a city like Belfast at night. But its for a good cause – and who doesn’t like a challenge!
The project aims to shine a particular spotlight on children’s rights, a cause that is very important not just in Belfast but globally. Belfast has become a more ethnically diverse place in recent years and there are many issues that affect young people in these minorities groups, like poverty, racism, and education.
The interface areas that carve up the city are also a cause for concern with youths getting drawn into rioting and anti-social behaviour leading to the possibility of serious injury or even being arrested. Many more would be affected if not for the hard work done on the ground by youth workers from the likes of St Peter’s Immaculata Youth Centre and the Hammer Youth Club in west Belfast. These youth workers are young adults themselves and put themselves at great risk trying to divert young people away from flashpoint areas over the summer months.
Two other ambassadors will be covering Ireland. They are award-winning photographers Brendan O’Se in Cork, and Tim Bingham – who will be covering Dublin for half the day and then travelling to Belfast to join up with me for the rest of the day.