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News Humans through time-lapse – part one

8 August 2016 Daniel Curtis

In this three-part series, we explore what happens when humans become the subject of time-lapse video.

Selfie – noun: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.”

That is the definition given in the Oxford English Dictionary for 2013’s “word of the year” to surely the most popular ‘buzzwords’ of the past decade.

Commonplace on social media and in 21st century mainstream visual culture as a whole, the selfie has become a popular means of self-documentation. As with photography more generally, selfies can be used as a long-term visual record and when compared with previous versions of a particular subject, changes may be strikingly evident.

This can prove to be particularly effective when the selfie meets time-lapse photography, by playing images in rapid succession to pronounce changes that are occurring.


As this extraordinary time-lapse project from Hugo Cornellier shows, taking a selfie every day over the course of eight and a half years can track changes that are usually ‘invisible’.

We never notice changes in people’s appearance that we interact with every day, because they are so subtle. Hugo’s project changes this, implementing the same alignment in every selfie and giving us a glimpse of how his face (and personality) develops, as he grows older.

His project is ‘on-going’ (in a later video he says he will never stop) so we look forward to seeing more from Hugo in the future!


A similar technic was also used in this following video, but with a slight twist.

In this time-lapse video by Andy Davidhazy, he tracks the progress of his hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, beginning from the Mexican border through to Canada. Rather than taking a selfie every day, Andy took one every mile (of his 2,660-mile journey!)

The rapid momentum of the sequence, which picks up considerably a few seconds in, charts the challenges of the journey as evidenced by Andy’s changing expression. And the beard he grows is probably testament to the lack of home comforts he enjoyed along the way.

Similar to Hugo’s video, Andy adheres to the consistent alignment of his physical positioning throughout, making the changing conditions of his surroundings an additional but striking focus point of the sequence.


From the extraordinary to the ordinary now and to finish is this beautifully mundane time-lapse by Marty Stalker. His 48-hour sequence captures his (very limited) movements as he sits in the same position on a rooftop overlooking Belfast.

With one frame taken every 30 seconds during the two-day period, the post-production edits of this footage also add a personal touch to the sequence by giving an indication of the different states of mind and heightened emotion that were part of this simple, yet difficult experience.

With a more rapid capture-rate used than in the previous two videos, movements are more frequent, steering the focus towards the human subject – although there are some beautiful skies over the city providing a stunning backdrop to the (limited) action!


We will be exploring humans as subjects of time-lapse photography further in our upcoming blogs.

| Part two >

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.