Soho Square photography exhibition

Photographers documenting New Year’s Day for 24 years

In 2004, 24 photography students from Central St Martins committed to documenting New Year’s Day annually for 24 years.

And now, near the end of that project, the “24 Photography” exhibition is held in Soho Square for 24 days, from 24 February to 19 March.

The 576 images so far illustrated political unrest, wars, climate concerns or fundamental human emotions such as family and love.

NEW YEAR, NEW PICTURE: The “24 Photography” exhibition in Soho Square Garden, London

Claire Spreadbury, the founder of “24 Photography” said: “We were 24 photography students from Central St. Martin and we held a photography show.

“We thoroughly enjoyed the process of the show and particularly liked the concept of the number 24. This led us to decide to extend the show for another 24 years.

“This year is our 21st year of doing this project. 24 of us are all over the world.”

Spreadbury appreciates the form of “social documentary”, which gives the photographers the most freedom to capture each year’s New Year’s Day from different perspectives.

Spreadbury made the exhibition accessible to everybody and also encouraged people to learn about art in a free-entry outdoor space.

She said: “Art galleries are not for everybody. Some people feel intimidated to visit an art gallery due to uncertainty about dress code or behaviour when entering a gallery.

“The reason to initiate this outdoor exhibition is to let people be inspired by the art of creativity without costing them anything.

“Over the past 20 years, there were moments when I felt like giving up on this project. However, 24 artists inspired each other to keep going. This is the beauty of collaboratively working together as artists.”

TWENTY FOUR: The outdoor exhibition

Spreadbury mentioned that the project is non-profitable. They sell the photos and donate the funds to charity organizations.

She added: “Over the past 21 years we raised funds for charities such as SameYou, Hope and Homes for Children and Vetaran Aid.”

Raphael Schutzer-Weissmann, co-founder of the “24 Photography”, who also shared his journey of documenting the past 21 years.

Weissmann considered the photograph he took of his son’s birth in 2017 to be the most significant one, which witnessed his personal growth within the past 21 years, as it captured the moment he became a parent.

He said: “When I started this project, I was single. Now, I have been married for many years and have a son.

“This project has also allowed me to witness the evolution of photography technology. In 2004, I used films to take pictures, then switched to digital cameras, and now, I use my phone to capture photographs

“I take the satisfaction as a whole exhibition rather than my individual photos.”

 However, Weissmann denied the idea of creating another 24-year photo documentary with his classmates once the project ends in three years.

He said: “The 24-year project has taken a big part of our life.

“To capture a picture in December to mark the New Year, I would often start thinking about what to capture in September. I had to come up with an idea but also allow myself to go with the flow and be spontaneous.

“It’s great to keep in touch with everybody over the past 21 years. But I doubt there will be another 24-years project.”

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