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Photographing Berlin for 24 hours straight

One photo every hour, for 24 hours. Sound crazy? Carl Nasman decided to give it a try in Berlin to document the city's quirks.

I've lived in Berlin for more than a year, but it wasn't until I roamed the city's streets for a full day, camera in hand, that I truly became acquainted with its quirks.

But this photo marathon wasn't my idea. I was one of nearly 4,000 photographers documenting 765 cities across more than 100 countries this weekend. It was all part of the sixth annual 24 Hour Project, a global street photography project that aims to "document the human condition of multiple cities during one single day."

Photographers like me snapped one photo every hour for 24 hours. All those images were then shared in real time on social media, creating a time capsule of daily life in cities around the world, from Sydney to Sao Paulo.

My mission began on Friday night right before it turned midnight and lasted until Sunday morning. I documented Berlin as it partied, ate, laughed and finally went to sleep.

The theme of this year's project was "documenting the human condition." So instead of the typical photos of Berlin's landmarks, I hunted the small moments that make Berlin unique: hipsters floating on a boat in an industrial canal, travelers rushing through the main train station, and party-goers falling asleep on the subway.

Below is a sample of my adventure. 

2:26 am - Warschauer Strasse

The first few hours of my photo marathon brought me to Warschauer Strasse, one of Berlin's nightlife hubs. A nearby cluster of former warehouses has been converted into electronic music clubs and it attracts tourists looking to party and dealers waiting to sell them drugs. The drug scene is out in the open here and it isn't always pretty. Beggars hoping for a donation towards their fix had laid out a series of cups for passers by to drop in a coin or two. When I returned later that night I witnessed undercover police dragging a drug dealer into their van.

4:21 am - The Baker

Not all nightlife in Berlin revolves around partying. Only a few blocks from my apartment on the other side of the city, I met a baker who has been working through the night for 20 years. He supplies the nearby Turkish restaurants with fresh bread every morning. We chatted while a taxi driver stopped to buy a couple of fresh loaves and throw them in his trunk. As we said goodbye, the baker took a seat and went back to his book, waiting for the next batch of loaves to finish.

7:16 am - Berlin wakes up - and goes to sleep

The most striking thing about photographing Berlin for 24 hours straight was watching as the city transitioned from night to day. That's when the changing tides of party goers and early risers mix. In Berlin, any decent club doesn't close until the sun has come up - and often much later than that. Around 7 a.m., intoxicated partiers began to stumble home, others continued to drink on the street. The unfortunate few nodded off on a park bench or an U-Bahn station chair. At the same time, families, joggers and unlucky office workers flowed into the streets.

10:36 - Hauptbahnhof

By 10 a.m. I wasn't even halfway done with my mission, but I was already exhausted. My body had come to the realization that the sun had risen but I had never gone to bed. In need of a break, I headed for Berlin's main train station to catch my breath and grab a coffee.

The station is one of the most striking in all of Germany, and it's a photographer's playground: multiple stories of steel beams, glass windows and plunging escalators. After a shot of caffeine, I hung out and captured the shadows splitting through the train platforms as stressed travelers rushed to catch their trains. I easily could have stayed here for hours, but the sun was up and the temperature was rising. Time to capture Berlin's sunny side.

2:58 pm - Hipster's Paradise

April 1 was the day Berlin finally came out of its five-month hibernation. This was the first truly hot day of the year, and when summer arrives, the city immediately transforms from grey and gloomy to teeming with life. And I could feel that energy everywhere. Berlin may not have the most beautiful parks in Germany, but it makes the most of what it's got. The old Tempelhof airport has been converted into an enormous recreation area in the middle of the city. And the series of industrial canals snaking through Berlin are the perfect place for hipsters to sit, drink a beer, have a cigarette and soak in the sun. This group decided to pretend they were in Amsterdam - boating along the Landwehr canal, drinks in hand.

10:35 - Late Night Haircut

By 10:30 p.m. the next night, I was barely functioning. I had photographed nearly the entire city on foot (with an assist from Berlin's fantastic public transport). My brain needed sleep but I still needed three more photographs.

Luckily I passed this barber shop on the bus and backtracked to take a peek. Who gets a haircut at 10 p.m.? Well, it isn't as uncommon as you might think. Especially in this Turkish neighborhood, where barber shops stay open late so customers can get a quick trim before their night out. 

And as Berliners headed out for another night of partying, I headed home for some much needed sleep.

See more of Carl's photos on hisInstagram account. To learn more about the 24 Hour Project - and see pictures from all over the world - watch the video below.

Watch video 03:17

Watch Carl talk about this project on DW News


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