[ Journal 2016 – July ]
Trafalgar Square – Pro-EU Rally
Britain voting to leave the European Union threw up many number of different protests and demonstrations, and although I had initially stopped photographing such things, I truly felt that it was necessary for me to document the moments when a collective mass of people come together in their hundreds or thousands, wanting to be heard.
I wanted to limit the number of protests I went to with regard to the EU, as I knew too well that most of them will look the same, will have the same things going on and that any difference I would find, would most likely come on the outskirts of the demo’s themselves. I am no longer too interested in the open-mouth shouting banner holder – I’ve seen it too many times, and although I will always photograph them, for these few outings on ‘Brexit’, I wanted to include a little bit more than I always had done.
The event itself had been cancelled, and the cancellation came to me, as it did to hundreds of others, via Facebook and on the actual day itself. As many people were going, and as such, would potentially offer up something for me, I watched and waited on the FB-Page to see if people would still go along. Soon enough, messages popped up that people would go regardless … and that was all I needed in order for me to get my fat lazy arse off the sofa.
Of course it rained. Of course it did. ‘I’m gonna have a camera full of umbrella photographs,’ I thought. Luckily though, the rain came in little spurts; the turnout was good and I managed to dilly-dally a bit before going in and finding my shot. I didn’t linger too much after that. I generally tend not to linger as once I know I have one particular shot, I don’t like to waste time shooting the same over and over, so I leave. It’s not the best way of working and I know I’ll most likely change it in time. There always comes the afterthought, ‘But what did I miss?’
EU Protest – March to Parliament
2nd – Want this one over the others. Crowds will be large and offer more opportunities for shots. I know the route well – they all kinda follow the same path – outlined by the police and authorities I imagine; routes to cause as little disruption to London’s flow as possible. My feet ache quickly when following these protests, so decide to head straight for Parliament instead. Truth is, I woke late and missed the beginning of it so had no choice. Get to Parliament Square and it’s pretty empty but I know the rally is still on its way. I mill and wonder about the green and look to the tourists and know soon that they will scatter when the crowds hit. And they do. It’s a hot day and as usual, I’m over-layered and sweating. I do this to hide the belly. I used to be fit. I used to be H.M.Forces and solid. Now I’m an ice-cream loving fattening 40-something. I have to sort that shit out. As the crowds arrive and swell into the square, I stick to the edges and try to get as much of the fraying fringe and onlookers as possible, but snake through the crowd because I have to actually show what this is all for. But, as with most things I photograph, I’m not particularly interested in what’s on stage. The wonder, the curiosity and the delight that exists on the edges holds my attention a lot more than all the banner waving and megaphone shouting folk. I still photograph them though.
You see, on the edges of these things, you will always find the tourist and the local, mixed in with the pack. And it’s those people that I seek – they sit and stand in a state of wonder and confusion and awe and the likes, and they offer me something that is the opposite of the main protest. The people on the edges, they are the fly in the glass of milk – caught up in the middle of the unexpected. And that’s what I am really after. Hey, I’m all for the cause and with the fight one-hundred percent – but fuck me I live for the day to never see another banner again .. at least, not in my photographs.
MoreInCommon Brexit picnic, Regents Park.
9th – This was a smaller protest but went along to get something a little different as people were going to be showing their solidarity and have a picnic at the same time. This was my excuse to give the little mju-ii a test run and see how it performs. I’m a little disappointed with the results in that the focusing is a little hit-and-miss, and after 5 years at this photography malarkey shit, I can’t really be walking around with that uncertainty any more. I wish I could make a final decision when it comes to cameras as it seems, that even after all this time, I’m still looking for something that fits and that I can turn to all the time knowing it will perform. Maybe it’s just me though. Maybe I’m the one not performing. Perhaps I’m looking in all the wrong places all round.
Black Lives Matter
10th – Missed the main event on the Saturday. Decided to walk with the rally on the Sunday. Wasn’t interested in simply going to the end location and grabbing shots so walked from the start. However, there was no set route organised and they ended up pretty much taking all the main roads and shutting down traffic. This was good for me, as it gave me more opportunity and a chance to grab some rest. Cramp sets in the longer I walk. I’m so fucking unfit. I need to sort that shit out. When I spend more time on the cramping leg than taking photographs, it’s time to go home. I got pretty good coverage, but starting to migrate away from the typical protest shots. I have to get in closer, get some detail, get some emotion. I have to be more selective and be careful of my framing. I basically have to up my fucking game. My shit is not good enough.