Two photographers who have never met were given the same assignment. They were told to record what they saw for one week, from May 12 to 18, 2003. Rod Hanna and Jessica Maynard were two of 25,000 professional and amateur photographers nationwide who did the same thing at the same time for that week. The project resulted in 51 books -- one for each state and one for all of America.
Hanna and Maynard's work was published in "Colorado 24/7," a record of one week in May from San Luis to Steamboat.
Both photographers learned of the project through the Internet. The Web site invited three categories of photographers to join the project. Some photographers were hired by the America 24/7 project with specific assignments, others was invited as "professional stringers" to submit 50 photos, and amateur photographers were invited to submit a limited number of photos. All photos were digital and uploaded to the project's server by the artists via the Internet.
Neither Hanna nor Maynard were paid for their work. They did it for fun and for the experience of being part of a nationwide cooperative effort.
Their submissions show how differently two people can see the world and how those differing perspectives play out on one side of the lens.
Hanna took a photojournalist's approach to the project by "covering" the events that happened in Routt County from May 12 to 18.
For him, the project was a return to his early days as a newspaper photographer with such publications as the Topeka Capital-Journal.
During the week, Hanna photographed the Soap Box Derby, cattle branding at the Stanko Ranch and lambing at the Step Rock Ranch near Oak Creek.
The Step Rock Ranch is owned by Dan and Doris Knott and managed by their son, Bernard Knott. After enjoying a long lunch with the Knott family, Hanna captured a classic "American Gothic"-style photograph of them standing in their doorway. The way they stand, their home in the background, the signs of weather and work on their faces tell an entire life story.
"They are such wonderful people," Hanna said. "And I loved that doorway with all their stuff around. To one side there is a shepherd's crook hanging by the door. I saw all of that and asked them to come out for the photo."
The "Colorado 24/7" book is available at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 56 Seventh St. 144 pages. DK Publishing. $24.95. For more information on the America 24/7 photography project, visit www.america24-7.com
Hanna moved to Steamboat almost 30 years ago to take a job with the marketing department of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. During his 25 years with the ski resort, he continued taking photos, including working a "weekend warrior" position as a photographer for the Denver Broncos.
Since retiring as the senior vice president of marketing, Hanna has focused on fine art photography, showing his work regularly at galleries in Chicago, Kansas, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Reno, Nev; Aspen and Steamboat's Mad Creek Gallery.
Hanna submitted 50 photos to the America 24/7 project. Several were chosen for the "Colorado 24/7" book, including a full-page photo of two boys at the Stanko Ranch.
"They were the kids of someone who was there helping out," Hanna said. "Everyone had a job and (the boys), once the calf was released, were supposed to steer the calves into the right area with their ski poles." In Hanna's photo, one of the boys has fallen asleep on the job.
"It was so cute," he said.
By contrast, the photos that Maynard submitted to the project looked deep into the eyes of the homeless on the streets of Boulder and Denver.
The publishers used a photograph Maynard took of a black man named Moses. The frame only holds his eyes, intense even behind sunglasses, and the words of his cardboard sign, "God Bless" written in black marker.
Maynard met Moses near the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
"He was just hanging out, and as people go by, he would say, 'Jesus loves you,'" Maynard said. "I was on that shoot for a week, and he became a friend of mine. I would sit and watch people's reaction to his blessing. The kids were the most receptive. He had a change cup, but it was more than that. It's what made him feel complete to be there."
A lot of people who walked by Moses looked the other way when he gave his blessing or "walked really fast or wide out," Maynard said. "The typical way people try to avoid human connection."
Maynard focused on Moses' message in her photograph.
"Everything else seemed insignificant," she said.
Maynard chose to go to Boulder and Denver instead of staying in Steamboat so she could completely immerse herself in the project. She stayed in a cheap motel and went out on the street every day with food and water for the homeless.
At first, she hung out with homeless children on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, but she left for Denver after a couple of days as the things she learned started to wear her out.
"I needed a break from seeing 13-year-olds on heroine and watching girls turn tricks," she said. So she headed to Boulder. "I got emotionally hit pretty hard there, too."
She'd seen many coffee-table books similar to the proposed America 24/7 series and the photographs that she remembered from them were the ones that were a little hard to look at, she said.
"I could have stayed here, but I didn't want to. I wanted to see what was hard and capture what was hard. I wanted to be opened up, and that's what happened to me."