Pressing his face close to a glass case, Fordham student David Cappetta zeroed in on his first subject: trays of cannoli and pasticiotti di ricotta, covered with powdered sugar. He took a deep breath in and steadied his camera. Click.
Just a mile away in East Rock Park, Corey Hudson pointed out how light hit the branches early in the day. In Wooster Square, Chris Randall was documenting the stillness that comes each Saturday before a 9 a.m. farmer’s market. A few hours later, he would be marching down Congress Avenue, trailed by the smell of collard greens and macaroni and cheese.
Their photos shared a common purpose: the first annual New Haven Photo Day, held Saturday from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. across the city.
A collaboration among Randall, Creative Arts Workshop (CAW), the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and the city’s Department of Arts, Culture & Tourism, the event came with only two rules: take lots of photos, and share at least some of them to a common website.
The goal, Randall said, was to document just one day in the life of the city, through hundreds to thousands of photos. New Haveners with photos from Saturday — taken anywhere within the city’s 18.7 square miles — have until June 20 to register and upload them to the project’s website.
The photos will then be exhibited three ways: in an A&I slideshow June 24 on the New Haven Green, a permanent online gallery that goes live June 27, a selection on I Love New Haven on June 30, and a physical show currently in the works.
The idea was born about a year ago, when Dan Fitzmaurice, then executive director of Creative Arts Workshop, approached Randall about a day-long documentary project. Looking for more local partners, the festival expressed interest in hopping on as a partner. Then CAW received money from the Mayor’s Neighborhood Cultural Vitality Grant Program, part of the city’s Department of Arts, Culture & Tourism. Randall, who runs I Love New Haven with fellow New Havener Jeffrey Kerekes, built a website and organized a series of free photo tours for the day.
Saturday morning, photographers across the city came alive, tagging along on tours or going solo to some of their favorite haunts. Starting in Wooster Square, a small group (led in full disclosure by this reporter) wound its way up Grand Avenue to Quinnipiac River Park, stopping every few storefronts to snap a few shots, meet the owners, and sample pastries, plantains, and fresh loaves of bread. Members fanned out across the street, hopping onto fire hydrants and crouching beside train tracks and auto body shops.
Elsewhere in the city, cameras were clicking away by 8 a.m., with participants stretching from East Rock to West Rock, walking deep into the parks, waiting for moments by the city’s roads, or clicking a few shots during public activities on the New Haven Green.
As of early Sunday morning, Randall had received over 200 submissions of three photos each.
“I feel really good about how it went yesterday and the results so far,” he said Sunday morning. “I’m in love with the concept of what New Haven Photo Day represents: a snapshot of twenty-four hours in the life of New Haven photographed by everyone.”
To upload photos that you took between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, visit the official website for New Haven Photo Day. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20.