How You Too Can Take Part in the World’s Biggest Photo Project

On May 15, amateur and professional photographers around the world will pause to preserve a mosaic of modern moments for posterity. Here's how you can participate.

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Dust off that DSLR and grab your iPhone. From World Press Photo winners to astronauts, Grammy-nominated singers to everyday hobbyists, everyone is being encouraged to take a moment on May 15, 2012 to document a sliver of their lives for Aday.org — an operation organizers hope will be the world’s most comprehensive photography project.

The ambitious offspring of A Day in the Life of Sweden, a 2003 undertaking that collected photos from 3,000 photographers in 24 hours, Aday.org hopes to document everyday moments across the world and create a visual, online archive. Organized by Expressions of Humankind, a Stockholm-based nonprofit,  A Day in the World has already signed up some big names — including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, International Space Station astronaut Andre Kuipers and award-winning Swedish pop singer Robyn.

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Courtesy of Aday.org, from A Day in the Life of Sweden in 2003

The hope is to produce an “unprecedented snapshot of humanity” with photographs from every corner of the globe: post-Fukushima Japan, schoolchildren in Ireland, stilettos traipsing through New York City. “Media is driven by things that happen rapidly, but there’s a longing to see the other images, to see really what life is like,” Jeppe Wikstrom, one of Sweden’s most popular photographers and co-founder of Expressions of Humankind, tells TIME.

Want to share a slice of your life? Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Register for free at www.aday.org
  2. Snap images relating to three categories: home, work and connections
  3. Upload up to 10 images to Aday.org between May 15 and May 22
  4. Include the following information: who took the photo, where, type of camera, and why you chose that subject

Courtesy of Aday.org, from A Day in the Life of Sweden in 2003

Though the project isn’t the first of its kind — there’s Worldwide Moment, the 4am Project, YouTube’s Life in a Day and the Geography of Youth, to name a few — Wikstrom says proper captions and context will set it apart. With searchable data that enables sorting and categorization, the images could prove an invaluable resource for researchers today, as well as a way to tell a story about our time to future generations. “Still pictures transcend the barriers of age, culture, geography and gender,” he says. “But at the same time it’s easy to shoot and easy to view.”

From the online submissions, a team of judges will choose 1,000 images to be featured in the book, A Day in the World, which comes out in November.  Wikstrom says the selections will be based on representation — those that together create the best snapshot of the world in one day. Additionally, the photos will be added to the National Archives of Sweden as well as included in a time capsule that will be buried at Sweden’s ancient Falun copper mine, a World Heritage Site. Centuries from now, modern people may look back on our photos and smirk at our hybrid cars or our bulky, slow iPads. But this mosaic of moments may  also offer something else: a sense that humans have more similarities, around the world and across time, than we do differences.

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