What does a week in the life of America look like?
Three girls rollerblade across the Brooklyn Bridge holding hands. A totem pole is carved from a 30-foot cedar log in Alaska. A teen-ager in New Jersey stands outside of the prom talking on her cell phone while her date has a smoke. A chain-gang of inmates in Phoenix tends the county cemetery.
These images join more than 1,100 photographs from across the country in America 24/7, out today from DK Publishing. The hefty, 304-page, $50 book is a compilation of moments captured digitally over one week beginning last May 12 by 25,000 professional and amateur photographers, photojournalists and ordinary American citizens.
Twenty-three Maryland photographers submitted pictures to the project, and 13 - including Sun photographers Jerry Jackson, Doug Kapustin and Chiaki Kawajiri - had images selected for the book. They captured moments across the state such as Sea Trials at the U.S. Naval Academy and the Baltimore Boychoir Festival at Goucher College. The book features six categories of photographs: home, work, play, belief, community and landscape-style scenes.
The company hired 20 professional photographers in each state to alert their communities and local newspapers about the project. Gunes Kocatepe was commisioned as a photographer for Maryland, but his pictures were not selected for the book. His wife, Shannon Bishop, had better luck. Her photograph of a classic car show on a dreary Ocean City day was among the images chosen for publication.
Bishop, a freelance photojournalist who grew up in Baltimore County, said the the rainy weather that plagued the second day of shooting in Ocean City ultimately led to her winning photograph of an antique car turning down a deserted street. "Everybody was sitting inside drinking [at a bar]. They weren't going outside to look at cars."
Described as a "national family album," the book of photographs documents America post-war and post-9/11, a spokeswoman for the project said. Using digital photography allowed the project to include submissions from a large number of people, letting them "tell their own stories of life in America," said Gina Privitere. Digital images are also time-stamped and dated to verify when they were taken.
Organized by state, more than 1 million photos were reviewed by teams of photo editors from top newspapers across the country. Each state was assigned three judges to select the winning pieces over two weeks. (Sun assistant managing editor for photography Jim Preston served as a state coordinator and picture editor, but did not help choose the Maryland photos.)
The creators of the book, Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen, released their first book of this kind in 1986. A Day in the Life of America became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller.
America 24/7 is just the first of many books planned to result from the week of photography. In September 2004, 50 state-specific books are scheduled to be released, and five city books - one each for New York, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco and Chicago - are planned for release in September 2005.
A selection of 136 photographs from America 24/7 also will be on display along the fence surrounding Bryant Park in New York through Nov. 10.
Finally, for those who want a picture of their own to be part of the project, it's not too late. The publisher is offering customers a chance to create a customized cover for the book, by submitting a digital photograph that will be made into a one-of-a-kind dust jacket. Details are available on the book's Web site: www.america24-7.com.