Photo project aims to capture the world in a day

In this Feb. 8, 2010 photo, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu addresses youths at the One Young World, World Summit at Old Billingsgate in London. Many thousands of people from all around the world will attempt to capture a day in the life of the planet May 15, as everybody with a digital camera is being asked to take a photo during that day and upload it to document that day on Earth. The results of the Photo Project will be published on the Internet, in a book and become part of an international touring exhibition. Enlarge photo

Sang Tan/Associated Press

In this Feb. 8, 2010 photo, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu addresses youths at the One Young World, World Summit at Old Billingsgate in London. Many thousands of people from all around the world will attempt to capture a day in the life of the planet May 15, as everybody with a digital camera is being asked to take a photo during that day and upload it to document that day on Earth. The results of the Photo Project will be published on the Internet, in a book and become part of an international touring exhibition.

LONDON — Robyn is turning photographer, for a day.

The Swedish pop singer is joining an anti-apartheid icon, a former Irish president and thousands of people around the world in an attempt to capture a day in the life of the planet.

The project — aday.org — is inspired by the “Family of Man,” a 1955 exhibition of international photography that became a multi-million-selling book.

Since then, digital technology and the Internet have made millions of people published photographers, and the project’s organizers hope to harness many of the estimated 1 billion digital cameras now in the hands of people around the world.

Amateur and professional photographers are being encouraged to capture images of their home, family, travel or work on May 15. The uploaded images will be published on the Internet and compiled into a touring exhibition and a book.

Organizer Jeppe Wikstrom hopes it will provide a record of our common humanity — and of the details of everyday life that photojournalism doesn’t always capture.

“Sensationalism has become more common in media, with celebrities and catastrophes and reality TV,” said Wikstrom, a Swedish publisher and photographer who helped organize a similar 2003 project in his homeland, “A Day in the Life of Sweden.”

“A few months ago we were looking for everyday pictures of Paris from a major photo agency, the first thing we got was thousands and thousands of pictures of Paris Hilton,” he said. “It’s an indication of our time.”

Celebrity participants in the project, run by a Swedish charity, include Virgin boss Richard Branson, former Irish President Mary Robinson and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said the photos would help people connect with one another and “transcend the barriers of language, age, gender and culture.”

Wikstrom says those signed up to take part range from Andre Kuipers, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, to scientists in Antarctica and climbers on Mount Everest.

Robyn, who admitted being an infrequent photographer, said she plans to take pictures of her life in Stockholm on May 15.

She said she was backing the project because, “I thought there was something very democratic about it, and modern.”

“It’s about looking into the future and letting all kinds of people have their say,” she said.

“I think it will be something that people will use for research, for things that people don’t even know yet what it will be good for.”

The images will be published on the Internet, compiled into a book and buried down a Swedish cooper mine as a time capsule for future generations to uncover.

“Sending a message to the future is immensely important,” Wikstrom said, “We don’t want to send just Paris Hilton to the future.”

Delivering that message will, he conceded, depend on future generations being able to decode our early 21st-century technology of hard drives and DVDs.

“I’m sure there will be a way,” Wikstrom said. “We managed to read the Rosetta Stone, didn’t we?”

———

Online: http://www.aday.org