The goal was simple enough--capturing on film the life and times of Orange County during a 48-hour period. Getting there, however, took three years.
What started as a rough concept for three Orange County professionals turned into a 36-month odyssey in which the setbacks outnumbered the successes and the frustrations seemingly outweighed the achievements.
"We learned there's an incredible amount of politics involved in trying to give something to people for free," said Stan Sholik, the co-publisher and photography coordinator of "48 Hours of Orange County."
The idea was to show the divergent life styles and cultures of the county in photographic terms, similar to the many "A Day in the Life of . . . " books that have been published recently. Sholik, along with Loren Price and Elaine Anderson, wanted the book to be a nonprofit venture, with the proceeds going to youth projects in Orange County.
After a series of setbacks, the three finally joined with the Orange County Centennial Committee to get the project started, and even then it wasn't easy.
The results, however, will be 2,000 special-edition, hard-cover books that will sell for about $250 (which will cover the cost of the printing) and 30,000 soft-covers, which will go for $20 or $30, with the profits going to youth scholarships in Orange County. The photographers hope to have the books available sometime next year.
"It all started when Loren was teaching a class at Fullerton," Sholik said. "We got together one evening after class and said we wanted to do something to promote the graphic arts community in Orange County. We expanded that into a project that would help kids in Orange County. We tossed ideas around and came up with an idea of doing a photographic book."
Once that was established, the group set out to find photographers willing to donate their time to the project. The response was overwhelming. In order to get the group down to a manageable number, only photographers who belonged to the American Society of Magazine Photographers (AMSP), Advertising Photographers of America (APA) or the Society of Illustrative Photographers (SIP) were contacted.
"We did that to keep the quality level up to where we would get usable images from people," Sholik said. "We didn't want to be turning over free film from Eastman Kodak to somebody we didn't feel would be qualified."
They settled on 55 photographers.
But while that phase seemed to go easily, finding someone to back the book was much more difficult, until they decided to try the centennial group. The final approval came shortly after Christmas last year.
"In the three years we spent planning this, the project came down to just 2 1/2 months that we had to prepare for it," Price said. "When we were putting it down on paper, we estimated six months of planning for clearances, assignments, photographers and sponsors."
The next step was to set a time for taking pictures, and March 18 and 19 were decided on.
"One of the photographers called the Weather Service three months in advance and they said it would be rainy and cloudy early in the week and the Santa Anas (winds) would come and blow all the junk away and it would be a beautiful day," Sholik said. "And, sure enough, it was. Everything was just gorgeous with beautiful sunsets."
Each photographer was given 17 rolls of film and one assignment each day, but were encouraged to shoot anything else of interest they might come across during the day.
The assignments included shopping malls, surfing, aerobics classes, train stations, Disneyland, nightclubs, swap meets, doughnut shops, farm workers and yuppies. There's even a visit to Olive Heights, where there are houses built in the 1800s, and a little-known monastery in Trabuco Canyon.
When the weekend was over, 930 rolls of film containing more than 33,000 pictures were ready to be looked it. Eight editors sequestered themselves in Dana Point, where the tedious editing was to take place. After two days, 230 pictures were selected for the book and 95 for a traveling exhibit that will tour the county.
The book hasn't been laid out yet and won't be printed until the 2,000 special-edition books have been sold in advance. A portion of the exhibit will premiere Aug. 20-21 at the Wooden Boat Festival in Newport Beach.