I thought I’d start my first post looking back at one of the major projects I have been involved in as a Photographer. Malta 24/7 was the realisation of a dream for myself and fellow photographer Alan Carville. Alan and I are of Maltese origin and after a chance meeting in late 2001 found we both shared a common wish to explore Malta in pictures so that we could show the world what Maltese Lifestyle and Culture is all about. To both of us this didn’t seem like a big thing. However, once we started talking about what we wanted to do our ambitions grew and the idea to shoot on the island not for a day but for a week 24/7 took hold. Without realising it and before we knew it we would spend almost two years organising a shoot on a distant island with a group of Photographers we had mostly never met or worked with. Remember this was early days of the internet and digital photographer and what can I say other than well, some things just took a bit longer to happen. Luckily for photojournalist Darrin Zammit Lupi in Malta jump on board and spread the word to his colleagues on the island. Before we knew it slowly things started to fall into place and build.
Alan worked tirelessly to build contacts and research things for the project as well as assist me with our marketing, sponsorship and schedules as time got closer – the amazing thing about Project Malta (as it was originally known) is that somehow it all happened without too much drama. This motivation to make the project happen meant that we were continually working our contacts here in oz at the Malta High Commission in Canberra, the Malta High Consul here in Melbourne for assistance in Malta. They embraced the idea and we continued to do roadshows around Melbourne to spread the word it was a very exciting time and one I would jump at if I had the opportunity to do it again. It was hard but god it was rewarding. I still have folders and boxes filled with unused images on DVD as well as transparency and film sitting here in Melbourne. Who know’s one day some of it may see the light of day.
As I sit here writing this post I recall sitting here in my apartment with Alan and we were at that cross road where we needed to make a call on things – we had managed to source some sponsorship from Malta Enterprise, Malta Tourism, Konica (throw away camera’s for the youth project), Fuji for film and reached a point were we had to put in our own money. So, could we do it? If we pulled the pin at this point no one would ever know but once we committed to things their was no going back. Well the rest is history and the project happened on July 1st 2003.
I’d like to quote Victor Aquilina from the foreword to the Malta 24/7 book:
With this idea acting as their driving force, the concept for the seven-day photographic shoot came into being and Malta 24/7 was born. Realising they could not do this on their own, they set out to build a team of expert photographers who were prepared to give their time and energy to create an amazing body of photographic work. Before long, photographers were recruited from Germany, the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Malta.
The offer of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a project set to become a European first was enough to make these photographers leave their studios and join an exciting adventure that has today become the Project Malta story.
With all the arrangements in place and excitement among the photographers running high, the project kicked off at the stroke of midnight June 30/July 1, 2003. Their mission was to photograph the people and the islands continuously for seven days, 24 hours a day – a total of 168 hours.
Project Malta was largely shot on film with some of the shooters using early digital camera’s I would guess this would be amongst the last of these type of projects using film. We managed to have an eclectic group of people working on the project and had unlimited access to the Prime Minister, local artists and everyday people. Another feature was our ‘Youth Project’ where we distributed 200 single use cameras to people under 25 to shoot 36 frames of film on the last day of the project on the 7th of July. Malta 24/7 came about at the time that Malta was about to enter the European Union the images produced are a time capsule of the island just before massive change would occur. To look back today – Wow!, we couldn’t have picked a better time.
2004 is ten years since the exhibitions with 2005 being the 10th year anniversary since the publication of the Malta 24/7 coffee table book.
The touring exhibition that previewed in Philadelphia and Washington in 2004 followed by the successful launch in Malta at the St James Cavalier in Valletta in September 2004 where the exhibition set records for attendance during its run. 2005 saw the exhibition travel to Beijing, the ACT (where it was invited to be part of the Multicultural Festival at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre and also set venue attendance records, followed by Melbourne. Personally, I feel the images are timeless!