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Aber FfotoMarathon 2020

Aberystwyth's annual photo competition is back ... with a twist!

Shortly after I arrived in Aberystwyth as a student I got wind of newly established competition which has since gone on to become a highlight of many a local photographer's calendar - The Aber FfotoMarathon. The premise: 1 Day, 6 Hours, 6 Themes.

Now, this year, in the age of Covid19 - things had to be done a little differently. This time around we had the four days of the Easter Bank Holiday dedicated to one theme each. Most importantly, everybody taking part had to work within the restrictions of the Lockdown, staying within the home or during our daily government sanctioned exercise outside. The daily theme was released on social media at 10am and participants had until 7pm to get their photo and submit it to the competition. Daily winners were announced the following morning with the overall "best set" winner announced the day after the competition ended. The response was incredible, with at least 1000 entries over the four days from Ceredigion, across Wales, some came from even further afield such as New Zealand and Malaysia!

I followed the hashtag on Instagram closely over the four days and was blown away by the variety, creativity and quality of the competition.

You can see my entries below

(Clockwise from Top Left: Wood, Yellow, Numbers, Reflection)

So, how did I do?

Working within the restrictions was a fascinating experience for me. It was an exercise in resourcefulness and using my environment in creative ways. In fact, all four of my final photos were taken in the exact same spot at pretty much the same time of day. On or around the window in my living room at about 3-5pm when the sun filled the room with a bright warm light eventually turning into the gold of the evening. This may surprise you, but the Reflection photo was surprisingly the least complicated image. The hardest part was carrying the mirror downstairs. My lovely muse (or should I say, mews!) Seren loves to sit on the windowsill in the sun so she took to her spot as usual and paid little to no interest in her strange, upside down reflection twin.

Now then, The photo that took the most amount of work, but what was ultimately the most rewarding was on the theme of Yellow.

This is a self-portrait and it was fiendishly difficult to shoot. First, I had to take a "selfie" (which for me, is hard enough on its own). Second, I was using my trusty DSLR "New Smokey" which while it has a very nifty reversible LCD viewfinder, it was practically useless because I was shooting so close to my face. So I used an app I have on my phone that allows you to connect to your camera so you can use it to shoot photos remotely. I also had to ensure the sunlight was in the right position to get the effect. Finally, to top things off, my hair was all over my face and I had removed my glasses, so I could barely see what I was even photographing. With the deadline fast approaching I was cursing to myself "why Harriet, why couldn't you have just taken a photo of a dandelion like everyone else?" But, I finally produced an image I was happy with. I took a paracetamol to ease the vertigo and took the rest of the night off.

Then, just before 10am the following morning, this happened:

I actually won! The dizziness, eye strain and frustration were all worth it! I've been participating the Ffotomarathon for years and this was the first time I'd ever won a category! I'm still pretty chuffed about it. And hey, when all this is over I get to treat myself to £25 worth of flowers from the local florist. All in all, a different, but very inspiring bank holiday weekend!


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