Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

An Afternon in London

Friday, February 10th, 2017

The protest outside Holloway Prison overran its scheduled time, and was still continuing when I rushed off to catch a bus down to Oxford St, where ‘Victory to the Intifada!’, a campaigning group of the Revolutionary Communist Group and friends were mounting a ‘rolling picket’ along Oxford St to mark Nabka Day, the ‘day of the catastrophe’, remembering the roughly 80% of the Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949.

This was a peaceful protest, with music provided by a mobile sound system, banners and posters making its way along the pavement to protest for a few minutes outside various businesses with short speeches about the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and against current Israeli government supported attacks on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which attempt to brand any opposition to the actions of the Israeli government, its miilitary forces and companies that support Israel as anti-semitic.

Police tried hard to keep the small group of Zionists who waved Israeli flags from getting in the way or attacking the protesters, and their presence certainly made the protest considerably move visible.

The Zionists made no real attempt to present facts or information, but simply shouted that the facts and figures from well-verified international reports by UN and other agencies and by well-respected human rights organisations were lies and shouted insults at the protesters, who largely ignored them, refusing to sink to their level.

I left the protest outside Topshop (where I would return later in the day) and went to Trafalgar Square where I knew a group was holding a protest calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. It was rather smaller than I had hoped, but I took a few pictures, and also found a protest by Vegans taking place, wearing white masks and holding laptops and tablets showing the film ‘Earthlings’ about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc.

While I was taking pictures a farmer who was visiting London came up and tried to talk with them, saying how he cared for and looked after the animals he farmed, who made use of land that would otherwise not be productive, but there was no meeting of minds.

Finally it was time for the major event of my day, at Topshop in Oxford St, following the sacking of two cleaners from the United Voices of the World union after they protested for better pay and conditions. A long line of police stood in front of several of the entrances to the store, and there was a little pushing and shoving from both protesters, many of whom wore masks showing Topshop owner Philip Green, and police at the largely peaceful protest.


Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MP and Ian Hodson, Baker’s Unions General Secretary outside Topshop

The protest received widespread support from various supporters of trade union rights, including the two in the picture above, Class War and many more. And after a noisy protest outside the Oxford Circus Topshop, Class War and others led the protesters onto the street to block the road at Oxford Circus.

More police poured in and started to threaten the protesters with arrest unless they moved, though by the time they arrived Class War were already moving on, leading the way to protest outside John Lewis, where cleaners have been protesting for years to be treated with dignity and respect by the management. They play an important role in the running of the store but say they are ‘treated like the dirt they clean’.

Here there was more pushing and shoving as police stopped the protesters from entering the store, and some angry arguments between UVW General Secreatary Petros Elia and the police about their handling of the protest.

The protesters moved off and marched down Oxford St to continue their protest outside the Marble Arch branch of Topshop.

Here the staff had locked the doors and shut the shop early as the protesters arrived. The protest continued noisily outside for a while, but seemed to be coming to an end. I was getting tired and hungry, having had a busy day and decided to leave for home.

68th Anniversary Nabka Day
Vegan Earthlings masked video protest
Refugees Welcome say protesters
Topshop protest after cleaners sacked

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Tish Murtha

Monday, February 6th, 2017

I’m not a fan of the Metro, the free newspaper that litters our trains in the mornings. It’s useful if you have to wait for a train, to put underneath your bottom to sit on those cold metal benches, but otherwise I never bother to pick up a copy myself, and when occasionally I pick up a copy someone else has left on the train, a quick flick through confirms my belief that it isn’t worth reading. Which is what you expect given it comes from the same stable as the Daily Mail, a sorry excuse of a right wing newspaper.

But for once the Metro web site has published something worth reading – and my thanks to friends on Facebook for point out Ellen Scott‘s article Powerful photo series captures unemployed youths of Thatcher’s Britain, about the work of Trish Murtha (1956 – 2013), a photographer who lived the life she photographed in Newcastle’s west end.

Murtha first used a camera to frighten away men who would proposition her on the streets where she lived, taking it out and threatening to take their pictures – even if there was often no film in the camera, but soon got hooked on photography and aged 20 went to study at Newport’s School of Documentary Photography in 1976, returning to photograph in the community where she lived. Later she spent some time in London.

The Guardian published a piece written by her younger brother Glenn Murtha, in their That’s me in the picture‘ series in 2015, and you can find out more about her on Wikipedia, which also links to a number of sites with her work on them. She died suddenly of a brain aneurysm just a day before what would have been her 57th birthday in 2013.

Her daughter Ella Murtha wants to make sure that her mother and her pictures are not forgotten, and manages an official Facebook page dedicated to her. She is planning to create a Kickstarter page shortly to fund the publication of a book of this series of pictures and her essay, Youth Unemployment. I’ll add details here when they become available.

My opinion about the Metro was confirmed by the two stories listed under the heading ‘MORE’ at the bottom of the piece which includes eighteen of Tish Murtha’s pictures.

MORE: Photo series celebrates hard-working cats on the job
MORE: Photographer captures the weird and wonderful things people have flushed down the toilet

Holloway

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I wasn’t sure about going to take pictures at Reclaim Holloway; I had several other things to cover later in the day and this was expected to be a relatively small event. Holloway is up in the north of London, and although its not a hugely long journey it would make my day a rather long one.

But in the end I decided it would be worth the effort, and part of the reason was that it was in the Islington North constituency of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, and knowing that he is a good constituency MP there was a decent chance he might turn up.

I’ve photographed Corbyn many times over the years, supporting protests on a wide range of issued – often in the past few years along with John McDonnell, now his shadow chancellor. But since he won his remarkable victory  to become party leader by a substantial majority, he has become a hate figure for the British media and often is at the centre of an intense media scrum at events, and seldom has time for many of the smaller protests he used to come to.

It was also an event that interested me, as housing has long been a special interest – since I was a student activist back in the 1960s. The protesters want Holloway Prison, which is closing down, to be kept in the public domain and used for social housing and community services, rather than to be sold to developers for yet more expensive housing that few Londoners can afford.

And Corbyn did turn up, and there were only a couple of photographers present, though many people taking pictures of him with their phones, but it was all pretty civilised. He spoke briefly, giving his support to the campaign, posed behind the banner (after I had asked him, more for the campaign organisers than myself – it wasn’t my sort fof picture) and then cycled off to do what he needed to do as party leader, while the rest of us marched off to HM Prison for another rally.

Reclaim Holloway

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Walking Backwards

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

One of the skills that every photographer who covers protests has to master is walking backwards, or rather more importantly, taking photographs while walking backwards.

Back when I learnt photography – and when I taught it – there was a considerable emphasis on avoiding camera shake when taking pictures.

We learnt and taught to stand  still, feet a foot or eighteen inches apart to make a solid platform (of course if you could lean against a post or wall, kneel or lie prone it was even better.) The camera should be held firmly in both hands, the left cradled under the lens, the right holding the body firmly with the first finger resting gently on the shutter release. Elbows should press in against the side of your chest, and it was vital to hold your breath and squeeze rather than jab at the button.

Of course, even this was only second-best, and ideally photographs should be made with the camera on a truly solid and weighty tripod. Of course in part this was a hangover from the days of large cameras and slow emulsions. Back in the 1890s when people started to make pictures without a tripod, exposures were often well under the 1/30th which makes hand-holding relatively easy with standard lenses.

I still sometimes see photographers trying to work this way – and some even at protests, but I’ve come to hate tripods (except for those few very special projects for which they are essential) and many, if not the majority of my pictures are taken while I’m walking, and often when I’m walking backwards, though sometimes I walk in the same direction as the people I”m photographing and twist around to work at an angle over my shoulder. It works for me better over the left than the right shoulder.

Walking backwards when taking pictures does need a little practice, but if you match your speed precisely and keep in step with those you are photographing you can get surprisingly sharp results at shutter speeds slow enough to give an attractive blurring to the background.

Though more normally I play safe by using ISOs that were unthinkable in the past. With both the D810 and D750 I’m now using there seems to be very little advantage in working below around ISO800, and results at much higher ISOs are still usable. In general I set the D750 with the wide-angle lens to ISO640, and the D810 with the 28-200mm at ISO800 and ISO auto allowing it to rise to ISO6400.

Nearly all the wide-angle pictures are sharp, and those with the longer lens usually suffer from focus problems rather than those caused by camera or subject movement.

One slightly limiting human design specification is the lack of eyes in the back of the head, and when walking backwards it is essential to take the occaisonal glimpse behing to check for curbs, lamposts and other obstacles. Falling over backwards is something of an occupational hazard, and could be dangerous, though the worst I’ve suffered has been the odd bruise.

But the march I covered on the 8th May was a break from all this, as the marchers were marching backwards from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall, though in easy stages with several  stops for speeches on the way.   And they really weren’t very good at it, proceeding very slowly and cautiously.

This march in reverse gear was to highlight the governments back-tracking over clean energy, with insulation grants being dropped and clean energy programmes being crippled while they back technololgies such as fracking and burning biomass which contribute to climate change as well as proposing massively polluting and unnecessary road and runway projects.

The event had started with some speeches including one from a woman whose house had been flooded. It brought back memories for me of watching the water come up to my own house a year or so earlier – though fortunately in our case it had stopped an inch or so short.

One of the others who spoke was Kye Gbangbola, whose son Zane had died in those same floods in February 2014 and had been left part paralysed. Despite a lengthy inquest since then it still seems not entirely proven that this was the effect of carbon monoxide rather than deadly hydrogen cyanide released by flooding from landfill.

Later there were speeches from others as the march halted first at the Old War Office, where speakers included Dame Vivienne Westwood, and opposite Downing St, where Sheila Menon of Plane Stupid talked about the lack of any real need or public good of airport expansion and the catastrophic effect it would have on climate change, as well as the increased deaths through air pollution, and called for the huge subsidies that aviation enjoys to be removed.

Finally outside the Dept of Health there were speechs and street theatre, which again looked at the huge subsidies the governemnt gives to the oil industry while at the same time it is cutting green initiatives. The protest had been intended to end in Parliament Square, but time had run out, probably because non-photographers are so slow at walking backwards.

More pictures at Going Backwards on Climate Change
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Yet more May Day!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

And then I changed my mind” was the sentence I left off my previous piece on May Day 2016 (and have now added). It was May Day, and though I was tired and hungry I knew that things were going to get interesting.

The party, F**k Parade 4, sound system at eleven and coloured smoke flaring, set off down Leman St, led by the Class War banner with a man wearing a pigs head and with me hurrying backwards in front.

After going under the railway bridge they turned left into Cable St and massed outside the Jack the Ripper premises, perhaps London’s sleaziest tourist attraction, where I’d previously photographed Class War and feminist groups at several protests and vigils. A line of police guarding its front looked quite worried as Class War brought their banner to stand in front of them, but soon the air was too full of red smoke to see much, and I was finding breathing unpleasant.

You need to be a little distance away from the smoke both to breathe well and to get good images. When you are actually in it things get difficult to see and the camera metering becomes unreliable. Fortunately the marchers soon moved off, and it became clear they were heading for Tower Bridge.

And I wasn’t disappointed as having blocked the bridge there were then more flares and also fire-breathing.

It’s technically pretty impossible to get good pictures when a huge cloud of fire explodes into the air, the extreme brightness of the flame compared with the ambient light is beyond the capabilities of film or sensor. And it certainly is more than the automatic exposure can do to get the best balance. Parts of the flame are white, burnt out where the light intensity has overexposed the sensor, with no detail that can be recovered in post-processing.

I think I should have taken the pictures here using manual exposure, but I actually made them using ‘P’ setting, as things were just happening too fast to think much about the technical stuff.  The camera – D700 – has underexposed by around a stop so far as the general scene is concerned, plus the 0.3 stops under I normally have set. Working around dusk at ISO 3200 this gave an exposure of 1/500th f11, enough to more or less stop action and give plenty of depth of field. Ideally I think I should have underexposed perhaps another stop or two, perhaps using the same aperture and speed but working at a lower ISO. This would have given me a little more highlight detail and made post-processing easier – considerable work was needed on these pictures.

I don’t think the metering really reacted much to the fire, as the exposure remained pretty much the same across a series of frames with different amounts of flame. In the second image you can see (at least on a larger image) the rain of drops of unburnt paraffin which was falling on me.

After the marchers left the bridge I followed them on to Tooley St before deciding the time had come when I could no longer ignore the messages of my body, and I left to go home. I was sorry to do so, as I guessed from previous conversations that they would be heading towards the long tunnel that takes Bermondsey St under the railway lines from London Bridge, where both the sound and the visual effect would be great.

F**k Parade 4: Ripper & Tower Bridge

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More May Day

Sunday, January 29th, 2017


May Day partying outside the ‘Rich Door’ at One Commercial St – F**k Parade 4

I left while the talking was still going on in Trafalgar Square and the audience was getting thinner and thinner to make my way to the East End. The first event there was a May Day Rally & Gonosangeet organised by the Bangladeshi Workers Council together with Red London, trade unionists, labour movement, political and community activists. I had to leave early while the speeches were still taking place, but I understand there was to be music later.

They did have a rather nice banner, and among the speeches was an interesting historical one by East End activist and historian David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, and I think there was to be music later.

But a rather more active event was due to start, with F**k Parade 4, the fourth in a series of anti-capitalist street parties organised by anarchists in East London returning to its origin at One Commercial St, the venue for over 30 protests by Class War against social apartheid in housing, and where last year’s May Day event was the first of this series of roving music and dancing protests.

I met up with a few of them sitting outside a nearby pub, wiaing for the cycle-hauled sound system to arrive, and then walked down with them to ‘Poor Doors’, where the party was already starting to become lively.

Everyone was in party mood, and even the large number of police who were standing around seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Soon the party-goers decided to move off, and with a few smoke flares and lost of red flags the went south.

But I’d been on my feet and taking pictures for too long, and decided it was time to go home. There were plenty of other photographers on hand to take pictures. But then I changed my mind….

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May Day

Saturday, January 28th, 2017


Media present in force this year as Jeremy Corbyn was speaking at Clerkenwell Green

One of quite a few things that I’ve long held against the Labour Party (despite voting for them in many elections) is their failure when in power to make May Day a public holiday. Instead we have an ‘Early May bank holiday’, which in 2017 will happen to be on May 1st. In 2016 it was on a Sunday, so at least most workers could celebrate it, though the great majority probably followed their usual Sunday routines, more likely to involve collapsing on a sofa with the Sunday papers than going on a political march.


TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady speaking

The May Day tradition as International Workers’ Day, according to Wikipedia dates from a Second International resolution of 1891 and was strengthened in 1904 by a resolution calling for energetic demonstrations for the eight hour day, class demands and universal peace, with workers stopping work wherever it was possible without injury to them. Unfortunately when I was still in full-time paid employment, work continued except on those days when May Day fell at a weekend. According to the organisers of the London march, it has been celebrated in London since the 1880s.


Daymer Turkish and Kurdish Community Assocation

May Day in London, though supported by the trade unions, has been largely kept alive by organisations of immigrant workers, particularly from London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities along more recently with the more sporadic activities of various anti-capitalist groups.

If I could be bothered I would try to correct the Wikipedia article which states “May Day activities (from 1978) are on the first Monday of the month.” In general nothing much happens then – and the May Day events in London that it mentions took place on 1 May 2000 – which happened to be a Monday so was also a bank holiday, and I was there when the windows were smashed at McDonald’s, leaving as I saw the riot police rushing in. Now I would stay to take more pictures, but then for various reasons I was less willing to take risks and left as I saw the glass being broken and riot police rushing in.

The march from Clerkenwell Green, organised by the London May Day Organising Committee, is officially supported by a wide range of organisations – listed in 2010 as :

GLATUC, S&ERTUC, UNITE London & Eastern Region, CWU London Region, PCS London & South East Region, ASLEF, RMT, MU London, FBU London & Southern Regions, GMB London & Southern Regions, UNISON Greater London Region, Globalise Resistance, Pensioners organisations and organisations representing Turkish, Kurdish, Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, West Indian, Sri Lankan, Cypriot, Tamil, Iraqi, Iranian, Irish and Nigerian migrant workers & communities, plus many other trade union & community organisations.


More people climb on to the plinth with their banners. They think the steward is unhinged and unfraternal and tell him so in several languages

The arrival of the march in Trafalgar Square led to a fight between stewards, photographers and the more militant marchers to try and keep the plinth around Nelson’s column clear. I wasn’t happy about being told I couldn’t photograph from there and by the total lack of fraternal solidarity shown by the stewards to their fellow trade unionists trying to do their job.

The march is followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square, which those various trade union organisations seem determined to keep as dull as possible. Most of the community groups soon drift away, and are followed by most trade unionists who are feeling thirsty after the march.

Fortunately the start of the event was enlivened a little by members of various communities taking little notice of the stewards, and in particular by the arrival of Ahwazi protesters who set off a number of smoke flares, as had some of the Turkish protesters when they entered the square.

Many more pictures and some text at:

May Day at Clerkenwell Green
May Day March
May Day Rally
Ahwazi Protest at May Day Rally

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Cyclists Die

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

As I’ve mentioned here before I’m a cyclist, though not a very active one at the moment, just jumping on a bike to go down our local shops or post a letter etc, and the very occasional longer ride. When I taught at a local college, I cycled to work and back every day, perhaps around five miles in all, except on half a dozen days in many years when thick snow halted traffic and I made it in on foot – to find none of the students had made it. Cycling was a little exercise that helped keep me healthy, but also the fastest, most reliable and certainly the cheapest way to get there.

In the suburbs where I live, the main danger for cyclists is fast-moving traffic, and drivers who fail to see cyclists. There are also those drivers who believe that cyclists have no place on the roads – and recently the UK’s Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has suggested cyclists are not road users, just a few weeks after he knocked one off his bike opening his car door.

Central London’s slower moving traffic can actually make cycling there safer, and the danger in London is mainly from lorries and other large vehicles with restricted views turning left over cyclists. But there is another hidden danger which kills many cyclists and pedestrians – air pollution from traffic fumes.

Research by scientists at Kings College for the Greater London Authority and Transport for London published in 2015 established that 9,5000 people per year die early in London due to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5s). Over 60% of these were attributed to NO2, and Oxford Street has the worst NO2 levels in the world, mainly because of diesel vehicles, particularly the large number of buses. But all internal combustion engines – diesel or petrol – produce NO2.

It isn’t just deaths. Many of those who die early have suffered for years from lung diseases, heart problems, cancers, asthma, emphysema and lung infections. And along with Birmingham and Leeds, NO2 levels in London have been well above EU safety limits for more than 5 years.

Cyclists are particularly effected by air quality because they are more active than the average street user and closer to vehicle exhausts. So Stop Killing Cyclists called a die-in outside the Department of Transport to demand the government take urgent actions to address the problem, with 8 demands which I list at Stop Air Pollution Killing Cyclists.


Sian Berry

The protest took place ahead of the London Mayoral elections, and all of the candidates were London asked to respond to this list of demands, and their answers were commented on at the event. Those from the two main candidates, Sadiq Khan, who became Mayor and Zac Goldsmith were disappointing. Despite his claims to be an environmentalist, Goldsmith showed an almost complete lack of concern, and Khan was little better. One candidate – Sian Berry for the Green Party – both accepted the full list and came to take part in the protest, though we all knew she sadly had little chance of winning the election.


Donnachadh McCarthy, Co-founder Stop Killing Cyclists, taking part in the die-in

The publication of the report has so far led to a few minor changes or promises of future change. Two bus routes have become zero-emission, and others are to follow, and the High Court in November ruled that the government really had to take some effective measures over diesel vehicles – and revealed that the Treasury had previously prevented them doing so.  Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated the intention to bring in pollution charging this year and to bring forward establishing the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to 2019.


Environmental campaigner John Stewart, best known for his campaigning against Heathrow expansion

But at the same time, the government has announced its intention to back a new runway at Heathrow, which will seriously increase pollution in London, both from aircraft and from the extra traffic the runway will generate.  There is simply no way that pollution targets can be met if Heathrow is allowed to expand.

As usual, to capture overall images of the die-in the 16mm full-frame fisheye was useful, though the image at the tops of the post was made with the rectilinear 16-35mm lens.

Stop Air Pollution Killing Cyclists.

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Grossman & the Photo League

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Around 15 years ago, I wrote a series of articles and short notes about what was still then a very much overlooked part of American photographic history, but which is now referred to as ‘New York’s famed Photo League‘. An organisation that was destroyed by McCarthyism as ‘anti-American’ it remained largely outside the pale until this century, and I was pleased to be able write about it and to mention some of the photographers still alive and working who learned and developed their craft there, largely under the critical eye of Sid Grossman (1913-1955). I’ve mentioned it before on this site, including two posts with the same title, The New York Photo League where I quote from my 2001 article, and a longer version here.

You can get some idea of the critical blind-spot by reading the lengthy introductory essay by Gerry Badger to the 1985 Barbican show ‘American Images: Photography 1945-80’ which relegates Grossman and others to what is essentially a footnote to the later work of Robert Frank and the Photo League to an introductory sentence to the work of Aaron Siskind which makes clear that his importance as a photographer was due to breaking away from his early work with the League on Harlem Document.

Although none of Grossman’s work appeared in the Barbican show, that the work of several others involved in the Photo League does probably owes itself – as did much of the show – to the ideas and graft of John Benton-Harris, a native New Yorker who studied with Alexey Brodovitch, and who grew up with the work of the Photo League photographers and their successors and their views of his city.

As his artist page at the Howard Greenberg Gallery states, Grossman, who had founded the Photo League with Sol Libsohn in 1936, “had a tremendous influence on a large number of students who studied with him including Weegee, Lisette Model, Leon Levinstein, Ruth Orkin, Arthur Leipzig, Rebecca Lepkoff and numerous others.”

The main show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York until Feb 11, 2017 is the “first solo exhibition in 30 years to explore the legacy of Sid Grossman” and the exhibition also includes “a small selection of work by some of Sid Grossman’s students including Rebecca Lepkoff, Leon Levinstein, Marvin Newman and Ruth Orkin.” Also showing at the gallery is a “companion exhibition with work by Sy Kattelson, a student and close friend of Sid Grossman.

Last September, Steidl co-published with Howard Greenberg Gallery ‘The Life and Work of Sid Grossman ISBN, 9783958291256′ with a biographical and critical essay by Keith F Davis, the first comprehensive survey of Sid Grossman’s life and work, with over 150 photographs “from his early social documentary work of the late 1930s to the more personal and dynamic street photography of the late 1940s, as well as late experiments with abstraction in both black and white and color.”

Whose Streets? Our Streets!

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

My thanks to writer on the New York Times Lens Blog for pointing out the exhibition ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!‘ currently taking place at the  Bronx Documentary Center until March 14, 2014, but more importantly for most of us, on-line.  Curated by photo editor Meg Handler  and historian Tamar, it features work by 38 photographrers, including a few familiar names.

But as Handler says in the Lens feature, few of the pictures  were widely seen when they were taken; “It used to be, you’d show your contact sheets to a couple of your friends and that was it,” she said. “They’d rarely get seen.”

Handler goes on to say that the freedom of movement for photographers ended in 2002, but she continued by saying that any demonstrator with a phone can now project images to the world almost as the events are happening.

I’m not sure how different things are in New York to here in London, but here there is certainly no shortage of photographers covering protests, and while it’s obviously true that protesters with smart phones now tweet and post images as events take place, this is a rather more recent phenomenon.  When I first got a mobile phone, a little after 2002, like most at the time it didn’t have a camera, and it was only at the end of that decade that phones with cameras began to be widespread.

Things did change around 2002. Photographers got digital cameras – like the Nikon D100 I bought towards the end of the year. A few professionals had used them earlier, but mainly in more lucrative areas than photographing protests. For a few years after most of the photographers at demonstrations here were still using film – and I continued to use both film and digital for several years.

Back then, unless you had something that was startling news, you took your pictures, came home, developed film, looked at the contacts, maybe made a few prints and took them to the agency a day or week or more later. If you though you had something special, you would phone a paper and if they were interested take them the film to rush through for the next day. Staffers would of course take in their films – and most of the protest pictures published were from photographers on the staff of the major agencies and papers. They only bothered to attend major events, and seldom stayed for more than a quick photo-op.

Photographers who really covered protests were a different breed – and it shows in the pictures in the Bronx show. Here – as there – some worked for the left-wing magazines and small circulation newspapers – such as Mike Cohen who gave me advice at times when we covered protests and whose work appeared regularly in the Morning Star, Socialist Worker and Searchlight, which also regularly featured pictures by David Hoffman, a photographer who some on the extreme right confuse me with and I get a share of his abuse along with that really intended for me.

The other thing that has changed and encouraged more photographers to cover events is the growth of online photo agencies that have little or no bar to submissions. Sites like Demotix (bought out and closed down a year ago by the Chinese to end its competition with Getty) encouraged people to put much unfocussed (often literally as well as metaphorically) photography online – with many more people becoming photographers, and a few of them producing work at least as good as that of the professionals who disparaged such sites. And of course there are professionals around the world who now contribute to such on-line agencies.

The freedom of movement all ended in 2002,” states Handler, but here protesters have often managed to avoid being penned by police, and except for those on the extreme right and some anarchists, protesters have largely remained on good terms with most photographers.

So we have more photographers than ever taking pictures at protests, although no more pictures are being used. Many that do appear are pretty poor because what matters most is not quality but getting the images in first, with many photographers rushing into a corner before a protest has even started to file some pictures. It’s a race I refuse to take part in, but then I’m in no danger of going hungry or getting evicted if my pictures don’t make the news. Like those photographers in the Bronx show I’m more interested in telling the stories – but at least now I can get them out on Facebook and My London Diary even if the newspapers don’t pick them up.

Another big change is of course the move to colour that came with the move to digital. There are rather more colour pictures in the Bronx show than I would expect from any similar UK show of the same era, but it is still black and white that dominates. Now using black and white is largely only an affectation practised by a few largely younger photographers hwo have never really learnt how to use it, other than clicking on a button in Lightroom or other software.