Photographing protests allows you to capture people, sometimes at their best and sometimes at their worst and the Invasion Day (Australia Day) rally I recently photographed was something different. It stood out from both protests last year as both had feelings of anger and frustration, this year had the feeling of the opposite as it was filled with cultural dancing in the streets and generally, people from all walks of life getting together to protest against something they believe needs to be changed and doing it with a smile.
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2020 has influenced the way many of us photograph our chosen subjects, with COVID safe plans in place to being watched, and some, fined by the police to being locked down and not leaving the house to pursue our passion for photography. To that end, I have been forced to take a ‘what’s happening in my city?’ and a ‘am I allowed out?’ approach to photography.
The came these bombshell comment from a colleague, ‘Your photos are very political!’ only to be further echoed by other colleagues leaving me scrambling to justify my choice of subjects. I noted as they scrolled through my Instagram feed none of them mentioned or commented on composition, cropping or even the editing technique etc. but rather commented on the theme behind each image.
I like to think that I’m the same as everyone else who enjoys photography, we are all, in our own way trying to tell a story with each and every single photograph and politics or a political theme is something I have gone out of my way to avoid by putting my efforts into capturing the emotions of people attending and the emotion around the event.
These comments stuck with me for quite sometime only to realise that you may inadvertently capture the politics surrounding the event whilst trying to capture peoples emotions.
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Moving through the crowd at a BLM rally I spotted this young lady and asked if I could take her photo, she turned and directly engaged the camera by looking down the barrel, I pressed the shutter, thanked her and walked away. Something I now regret.
These regrets could have been avoided for a couple of reasons
Didn’t spend enough time with her to have her pose properly but its still worked out
Didn’t ask her name or email address so a print or digital file could be sent to her.
Realized that this is one of those photos you keep going back to over time.
I also learnt I need to slow down photographing protests, this is not easy as most are pretty fluid, filled withe emotion and can turn violent in the blink of an eye, however there is also a fear of not capturing the event in its entirety.
Until next time, happy shooting.
Please note: due to limited space on WP, a full-size version is available at Flickr which can be seen by clicking on the photo. Flickr presents the photo better
Over 500 photos were taken during the BLM protest and now I am wondering what to do with them all. Sure the blurry, poorly exposed and badly composed images can be deleted but once the cull has happened there will still be around 300 images that need to be edited, but then what. What do you do with so many images?
They can’t all be posted on social media or here because people switch off and loose interest.
Some will be printed and hung on the wall above my desk to stare at when I’m struggling to think of the right word or ideas for a blog post. Maybe the best photos should be collated into a coffee table book to be thumbed through by visitors.
What do you do with all of your photos, Do they sit on a hard drive or do you print your best work to show to either family and friends or enter into competitions? Would love to know what you do, because I’ve run out of ideas.
Until next time happy shooting.
Please Note: Full size image can be viewed by clicking on the image. You will be take Flickr to where the image is stored. This has been done to save space here on WordPress and Flickr presents the image a lot better.
This is typical of the majority of the Filipinos who allowed me to take their photo, they were smiling, happy and always willing to have their photos taken and with a thumbs up
She was not shy in begging for money and every time I pointed the camera at her she shied away from being photographed until I held money next to the camera. As quick as I handed it over, it was gone and so was she.
Security is everywhere in the Philippines and probably for good reason, they are in the shopping centres, hotel lobbies and on street corners and I will admit, it can be just a little scary asking to photograph someone with a weapon, you just never know which way it may go but he was more than happy to have his photo taken.
I hope you have enjoyed the series from the Philippines. It’s definitely a place I would visit again in the future. If you have enjoyed it please leave a like or a comment below and if you want to see the next series, hit the subscribe button.
Firstly, your safety is paramount. If any protest or protesters become violent towards you or others, including the police interacting with protesters, leave. Your safety is more important and must have a higher value than any photo you take and your safety always come first. No photo is worth you being injured or hurt.
Travelling, mainly for work, I had decided that the photos taken during my trip would be to show my family the famous sights of London with no intention of sharing, so I was surprised to stumble across a what looked like a protest, a peaceful protest, on a bridge, a famous bridge (Westminister Bridge) in London. What an opportunity!
Pushing through the crowds trying to get a feel of what the protest was about I found that there were plenty of photographic opportunities with good light and everyone seemed pretty happy, might be the whacky weed that was in the air, to have their photos taken.
Some people will struggle with my next comment, I selected Auto on my camera and started shooting. Why not? Camera companies spend millions of dollars developing incredibly small computers and sensors to work everything out so why not select auto.
Documentary and street photography are genres that I have always been attracted to, I find them to be challenging as you have little to no control of what is about to happen and how you capture those moments can be a challenge in itself. Ultimately you want people to feel connected to your images and to possibly inspire them in some small way.
Please remember, if you do decide to photograph a protest, remember your safety must come first over any photo opportunities.