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Worldwide Moment: You're Invited

What defines me as a photographer isn't my photos - it's yours. Since 2007 I have been committed to organizing photographers around the world to participate in an annual simultaneous photo shoot called Worldwide Moment. October 10, 2010 at GMT 10:10am is this year's Moment, and you're invited to participate.

Tom Brownell. Circa 1972. Photo by Sherry Brownell. I think this is supposed to be a “really bad day at the office”.

My dad was an avid amateur photographer who loved to travel and did so for free (thanks to American Airlines). He was a manager. My mom was a flight attendant.

In our Dallas Texas home hung framed shrines. Moments my dad had captured around the world on film: sunsets over Santorini, underwater close ups of sharks, a torn down Berlin wall, the palace of Versailles. I admired his passion for photography and wanted to learn the art for myself.

When I was 16 he gave me his 1971 Fujica ST 701 and a book on 35mm photography. The book taught me exposure basics and my high school teacher Mark Murray taught me framing, developing, and printing.

In 2002, after studying film and television at the University of Southern California, I joined a photography club in Los Angeles called Human Essence. Our mission was to provide free photography services to non-profit organizations around the city.

Me. Working as a production assistant on a Burger King commercial shoot in Los Angeles. Circa 2002. Photo by Adrian Valenzuela.

During our down time, I suggested a simultaneous photo shoot. The group agreed. I decided to photograph day-laborers looking for work outside a local Home Depo, because I wanted to remind the group, and myself, that Los Angeles is much more than just Beverly Hills and movie studios.

First WWM photo. Los Angeles. 2002. Photo by Brett Brownell.

Coincidentally, the photo group broke up, and I never saw the results. The disappointment stayed with me for years – until my dad passed away from a stroke on October 10, 2006.

Walking into the hospital room, I found myself promising him two things:

  1. I would have a family of my own and
  2. I would always follow my dreams.

So, a few weeks after his death, I sent an instant message to my friend Dawn in Canada: “Would you participate if I organized a simultaneous photo shoot?”. “Absolutely,” she said. And with that Worldwide Moment was born. Again.

With the help of my production partner, and Mae drummer Jacob Marshall, we recruited 67 photographers in 21 countries to take a photograph of their world at the moment of 12:34pm Eastern Time on May 6, 2007. I was finally able to view the results of a simultaneous photo shoot. It was thrilling.

In 2008, although I was busy documenting for the Obama campaign and bands such as Vedera, we organized 267 photographers from 45 countries on August 8 at 8:08am in the +08GMT time zone.

The band Vedera. San Francisco. 2008. Photo by Brett Brownell.

Then, like most people, 2009 turned out to be a miserable year financially. I couldn’t find work other than occasional shoots and a part time job. But there was a silver lining: I had ample time to promote Worldwide Moment.

I spent my free time cold calling, Tweeting, emailing, and Craigslisting invitations to participants. It paid off. 2009’s Worldwide Moment generated simultaneous photographs from over 1,200 people in 70 countries, including a photograph by Yoko Ono.

I’m not always proud of my photographs. But I’m proud of every single Worldwide Moment photograph, and I know my dad would be too. I hope you’ll join us this year on October 10.

El Rey bathroom. Los Angeles. 2008. Self portrait.

For more information about the project, check out:

written by Brett Brownell


  1. quaisoir


    I'd love to participate. This is a great thing. :)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. gnarlyleech


    This is an inspiring story. I am setting my alarm and posting this on my facebook.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. azurblue


    Sounds great !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. eatcpcks


    Great thing sweet story! Will try to be there!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. emilios


    Cool concept.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. cruzron


    ready your calendars and alarm clocks everyone!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. paramir


    great story! i'll do my best to be there!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. ipdegirl


    excellent idea--count me in!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. dimitrul


    i´m in!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. zemick2005

    am in :) n Facebook yu :)
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. snezna-cica


    I am in too !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. bittersweet


    i wish i could participate! interesting entry u have there. im sure ur dad will be proud of you of ur accomplishments. :)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. brettbrownell


    Big thanks everyone! Hope you'll be joining us!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. azurblue


    I'm in ! It is a sunday, easy !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. elletra


    I think this is my favorite article EVER!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. leela_dark


    wonderful idea, and very lovely article!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch.