2014 wlll be the 11th edition of Crossing Bridges.
When this project was started in 2004, participants were not many in its early years ……. with an average of 30 to 50 participants for each trip. As more countries join the Fraternity of Crossing Bridges, the number of participants has been increasing year after year.
Most participants pay a non-profit cost of participation and will not appreciate the months of work, negotiations, planning, running around and hardship involved away from their eyes
It is a planning and organizing nightmare each year as organizers try their best to meet basic and increasing expectations…… some need Halal meals, others want to share accomodatins with non-smokers and non-snoring partners and with everyone coming from different cultural, religious, language backgrounds it is a yearly miracle to put a trip in place
Organizing Crossing Bridges is NEVER a One-Man show . A team of carefully picked individuals with a clear focus on the end results and on their area of responsibilities is critical. The project leader needs to stay both focused as well as still being flexible to improved suggestions and ideas without rocking the boat and confusing the committee team members
The FIRST building block of any Crossing Bridges trip starts with the basic question of WHICH country will raise their hand in volunteering for a year-long project or organizing and fund-raising together with putting together a THEME and a Programme that will showcase their country to visiting photographers from the region… bringing them away from the tourist paths into areas seldom visited by independent or group travellers on a regular holiday.
4 other MAJOR pieces then follows which will form the outline and transform itself into an actual adventure of not just photography, but a well-spent week of networking, friend-making and learning from one another.
FUNDING.. Every year its tough but be prepared to put together a per head cost of the trip based on an estimated number of participants from each country and build in a margin for unseen and/or surprise costs that you have not thought about. Be prepared put up your seed capital because most participants’ fees do not show up until near the trip itself if not worse, on the day of Arrival of participants.
To keep costs manageable, this is where the quality of your relationship with the different potential sponsors are very important. They do not need to sponsor cash as the same results can be achieved if sponsors can be found for various logistics, meals, transportation, models fees, door gifts, t-shirts etc etc etc. Thesae ‘soft dollar’ sponsorships are invaluable and often more affordable than hard cash. In return do remember to show respect to your sponsors by giving them sufficient and appropriate recognition in the Press, Media and other marketing collaterals
FOOD. ALmost everyday the group will be eating at different restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Early pre-dawn move-outs also mean eating at location or on the bus. Make arrangements for breakfast especially supplemented by lots of fruits as that is the single MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day
Pre-check and confirm with all involved eating establishments that they are ON THE WAY between shoot locations and are able to cater to the number of participants AND satisfy the various special diet requirements
Allow for at least 2 hours for Lunch and Dinner because everyone will be stiff from riding on the bus over country roads , so they need plenty of time to refresh and stretch those legs ….. Lunchtimes can be relaxed and stretched out affairs because late mornings to early afternoons lighting are too harsh to shoot well. Expect late dinners AFTER sunset on certain days and at certain locations
ACCOMODATIONS. Most years , the group is moving from one hotel to another almost on a daily basis in an effort to cover as much of a region with a week as possible . Different numbers of participants from different countries with odd numbers of both male and female participants makes rooming a monumental challenge regardless if everyone is housed in a motel or 5 Star establishment. Be flexible in combining a few hotels/motels together if there is no one place who is able to accomodate the entire group. We’ve had fun staying at haunted motels and luxury hortels
Participants are advised to pack as little as possible to avoid the pain of moving large pieces of luggage from the bus to their rooms and vice versa the next morning …. on a daily basis
Importantly accomodations for the first and last days should be able to host the Opening and Closing ceremonies to avoid transportation and movement of logistics
TRANSPORT. The most common type of transport used every year is the humble bus. We’ve had to overnight by train (CB3) by overnight ferry ship (CB7) by little sampans (CB3 and CB4) by cable cars (CB10) and other strange ancient modes of transportation …… through mud pools (CB3) , jungles (CB7) , sand dunes (CB8) and everything in between. ALWAYS go for safety rather than save on costs when choosing transportation because no life is worth a bunch of photographs. If the weather is bad, be brave enough to postpone the transfer.
OTHER matters that organizers will need to take care of are almost limitless. They include planning, designing and ordering items like
Trip Name tags and official programs for everyone
Welcome Packs and gifts
Banners and more banners
Backdrops for the Opening and Closing ceremonies
First Aid supplies
Constant supply of drinking water
List of emergency numbers
Lists of nearby medical facilities everyday
Emergency evacuation plans
So when you meet someone from the Organizing Committee do give them a good pat on the back.