Archive for January, 2013

Shades of Grey

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Although I’m a regular user of Surrey Libraries, I’ve yet to contribute to the statistics just announced that show Surrey borrowers to be the most avid readers of EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey series – which apparently accounts for one in 5 loans – as a libray spokesman commented “they just can’t get enough.” Certainly I’ve noticed over recent months the ‘New Issues’ and ‘Quick choices’ troughs clustered around the front of the library are engorged, full to bursting with these titles and the many, many rip-offs, ‘Seventeen Shades of Purple‘ and the rest. It’s perhaps surprising that ’50 Shades’ was also reported to be the country’s least wanted Christmas present, so there are presumably many virgin copies lying around in homes through the country.

Although I’ve yet to open the covers of any of these titles which seem to be multiplying like rabbits – after all I’m not in any way the target audience – Shades of Grey has been on my own bookshelves – and regularly consulted – for over 20 years. And if anyone got that volume, long out of print, for Christmas they will have been entranced by Oscar Marzaroli‘s picture of Glasgow from 1956-87, published shortly before his death in 1988 (and reprinted twice the following year.) There is a very wide selection of his work on the Marzaroli Collection web site, but unfortunately the images are rather small and seem contrasty and over-sharpened (rather like some pictures I put on the web in the early days of the mid-1990s) and don’t show his work to advantage. The site does seem overdue for a re-vamp.

The book Shades of Grey, second-hand copies of which now seem to sell for £50 or more, wasn’t particularly well printed – bog-standard offset of the period, with poor separation of the darker tones and perhaps in homage to the title lacking a true black – but it does a much better job than the web site, and is a wonderful portrait of  a city and its people, complemented by a fine piece of writing ‘Where Greta Garbo Wouldn’t Have Been Alone‘ by William McIlvanney. I’d take issue with the flyleaf description which states that this, “with its subjective impressions perfectly complements the objective images from Marzaroli’s camera” only because his pictures are fortunately an equally subjective view of the city.

Free James Foley

Friday, January 4th, 2013

When US journalist James Foley was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Northwest Syria, on November 22, 2012, his family wanted it to be kept out of the news, hoping for his safe return. Four other journalists, including Richard Engel, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News were kidnapped in the same region and were freed after a battle between their captors and one of the two main Syrian rebel groups. It isn’t known if there is any connection between the kidnappings, or who has held Foley or why.

His family has now decided to go public and has set up a web site and a Facebook group to appeal for his release. Please sign the appeal on the web site and if you are on Facebook, you can ‘Like’ the group too.

You can read more about this on GlobalPost, for whom Foley had filed many reports over several years. In April 2011 on assignment for them in Libya, he was captured by Gadaffi’s forces and held in prison for 44 days before being released – and later he returned to Libya to photograph the events around the fall of Gadaffi. AFP to whom he had sent around 30 videos since March 2012 have issued a statement of solidarity with his family.

You can also see more of Foley’s work on his ‘A World of Troubles‘ web site. On its front page, as well as the appeal from the family for his release is a video he made in Aleppo a week before his capture showing home-made weapons being used by the rebels.

His Family say:

Jim is the oldest of five children. He has reported independently and objectively from the Middle East for the past five years. Prior to his work as a journalist, Jim helped empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor assisting them in improving their lives.

The family appeals for the release of Jim unharmed.

I too hope and pray for his safe release. They feel publicity can help and we can all add our names to their petition.

Just before Christmas, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a special report on journalists killed  in 2012 which states:

 Syria was by far the deadliest country in 2012, with 28 journalists killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces. In addition, a journalist covering the Syrian conflict was killed just over the border in Lebanon. The number of fatalities related to the Syrian conflict approached the worst annual toll recorded during the war in Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed in both 2006 and 2007.

Those killed in Syria included four international journalists, Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times, French freelance photographer Rémi Ochlik, France 2 reporter Gilles Jacquier and Mika Yamamoto, a journalist for Japan Press. At least 13 of those killed were ‘citizen journalists’  and others included local professionals Abdel Karim al-Oqda of Shaam News Network, Mosaab al-Obdaallah of Tishreen and Ali Abbas of SANA. Two others, Bashar Fahmi working for Al-Hurra and Mohamed al-Saeed of Syrian State TV are missing, with unconfirmed reports that al-Saeed was beheaded. US Journalist Austin Tice has also been missing since August.

Harlem Views

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Roy DeCarava has long been one of my favourite photographers, and his ‘The Sound I Saw‘, pictures of his from the 1960s was one of the more interesting publications of the early years of this century, and one that I often reach down from the shelf in my living room to leaf through. It helps of course that in the 60s, before became a photographer I was a great jazz fan (and the world’s worst tenor sax.)

The book is about jazz and Harlem, and is a kind of improvisation around his pictures and poetry of jazzmen and Harlem, something I can’t pick up and leaf through without the sound of Ellington’s ‘Harlem Airshaft‘ and other compositions including ‘Drop Me Off At Harlem’ springing into my head. I think too of Ben Webster (pictured here with Coltrane) who I once spent an afternoon with, trying to keep him sober for the evening’s concert with spectacular lack of success but who despite that reduced me to tears with a few breathy notes and continued to play a set that left me emotionally exhausted.

I was pleased a day or two ago to come across John Edwin Mason‘s blog and an article Roy DeCarava’s Harlem in which he rightly calls DeCarava “the greatest of all photographers of Harlem” and which includes video about him and links to a fine essay by A D Coleman. Elsewhere there is a nice review of the (re-issued) 1955 book The Sweet Flypaper of Life he produced with poet Langston Hughes by Alan Thomas and there is a fine set of pictures on the 2009 obituary programme on NPR. There is a DeCarava archive site, but authorisation is needed to access the images. There is another obit at BlackandWhiteCities, which links to the NYT Lens feature, as well as the JazzWax tribute with the Webster/Coltrane image and more – and you can read a long scholarly article by Rebecca Cobby, ‘Visions, dreams and a few nightmares’: Roy DeCarava’s Representations of African American Workers in Harlem‘ in the BAAS journal.

Mason’s post compares DeCarava’s view as an artist and an insider to that of photojournalist Gordon Parks, and the triumph and tragedy of his fine photo essay ‘A Harlem Family‘ which appeared on pages 48-62 of the edition of Life Magazine for March 8, 1968, the first of five features in a special section ‘The Cycle of Despair: The Negro and the City. As Mason points out in a second post ‘Gordon Parks: “A Harlem Family,” Life Magazine, 1968‘,this was published after “the end of the long hot summer of 1967, a summer of urban uprisings in black America.”

The feature is worth reading and thinking about, with some interesting reflections on the essay and the publication, and I think too on the role of photography and photojournalism which remain pertinent.  Mason ends with an account of the tragedy which followed – although unconnected – for the family Parks had photographed and Park’s own thoughts, as well as linking to an exhibition of the work marking the centenary last November of Park’s birth at the Studio Museum in Harlem, continuing until March 10, 2013, with an exhibition catalogue to accompany the five volume publication of Park’s work by Steidl.

Although a fine publication for libraries, at £148 it seems a little excessive both in terms of cost and shelf space for impoverished photographers, particularly those like me whose walls are already full of books. Perhaps a single print volume with an accompanying DVD with a larger selection of images would be more attractive to a wider audience.

2012 – My Own Favourites – December

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

© 2012, Peter Marshall

I still don’t like working in the dark, but at least digital cameras now make it a lot easier and enable us to get images that don’t look as if they were taken in a black hole. This image from a march by Unite the Resistance and UCU to Downing St in protest against Osborne’s Budget Cuts announced that day in his autumn statement in jobs, services and education which will unfairly impact on the vulnerable was taken on a well-lit street in central London, but I still needed a fairly high ISO (ISO 2000.)  Although I think the marchers had actually paused, they were still moving around quite a bit and I needed to use  a reasonably high shutter speed to avoid any blurring and I took it at 1/200s.  Although they were stopped I think it still has a pretty dynamic feel to it, and there was certainly a high energy in this group. At 16mm on the 16-35mm even wide open at f4 gives a reasonable depth of field and the lens is pretty sharp even at full aperture.

Flash has provided the main light source on the people in the picture – with considerable burning down of the close figure on the left, though I may have twisted the flash head slightly away from her when making the exposure. I’ve also taken the figure at the right down a little, though she still stands out a little from the rest. There is enough ambient light to give some detail in the surrounding buildings, but the sky is still black. There is still a little bit of luck in lighting at night, and I often get it wrong, but there are also times like this when it works really well. To get that kind of result back in the old days would been impossible outside of a film set.

Later in the evening at the rally that these protesters held together with CND and Stop the War opposite Downing St I was finding it a little difficult to get the kind of lighting I wanted on the speakers, until I realised that the open gazebo under which they were speaking (like most days at this end of the year  it was raining if only slightly) was more or less white and made a perfect surface for bounce flash.  I cursed myself for not realising it immediately, but it’s something that is seldom possible out of doors.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

This is the moment during UK Uncut’s Visit to Starbucks on Conduit St, just off Regent St, when the police walked in to the store, roughly a minute after the occupation had begun, and a statement about Starbucks’ avoidance of UK tax was being read. It’s one of a whole series of pictures taken over the roughly ten minutes I was inside the crowded shop, all with the 16-35mm on the D700 (this at 16mm.) At first I was working without flash, as I was worried that the shop management might ask me to stop taking pictures, and though I would have told them it was in the public interest and ignored them I prefer to avoid confrontations, but later I used it when photographing people with their backs to the window. None of the pictures I took here or at the protests against Starbucks in Vigo St and Euston Rd were spectacular, but perhaps that reflects the nature of UK Uncut, who make their point firmly but generally politely, direct action with intellectual rather than physical confrontation.

Among the other images I might have chosen is one from the Euston Rd branch, where a father is reading a book with a young child as the police walk in. The low viewpoint and the change in lighting from the warmth inside the shop on the father and child to the cold daylight flooding in from the front of the shop making the officers cold and blue add a little sinister drama. You can see it in  Starbucks Euston Road.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

When a finger gets that close to the front of your 16mm lens it is just a little worrying, particularly when a fairly bulky security guard is behind it and making physical threats. After all you don’t want to get any fingermarks on your lenses. You can read more about the protest against workfare in Brixton – here outside Superdrug who are using unpaid forced labour – work for nothing or lose your benefits – in Boycott Workfare Surprise Party in Brixton.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Anti-Capitalist Carols in the City

There was more of a Christmas atmosphere around as a small group visited banks and branches of Starbucks around the City of London to make their protest in song. A few places locked their doors in time to stop the carollers entering, one or two places didn’t seem to notice them, and there was no trouble, with a couple of police officers calming the staff and letting them know the protesters would leave without trouble.

At the NatWest in Poultry, a few yards from the Bank junction, the high circular hall had a fine acoustic and the choir sounded pretty good, having practised a little on the way around. Some staff came out onto the balconies to listen and it would not have surprised me if the manager had come out with mince pies and mulled wine and implored them to return next year.

Royal Exchange, shown in the picture above, made a good backdrop for the picture, but out of doors the sound was lost.  I had to leave before the protest finished at St Paul’s Cathedral, to go to another Christmas event. It wasn’t until December 27th that I was able to drag myself away from the festivities having eaten and drunk too much (and more to come at the New Year.)

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Four years ago, on Dec 27th, Israeli forces began their attack on the people of Gaza. By the time Operation Cast Lead came to an end 22 days later, around 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians had been killed. Israeli deaths totalled 13, three of them civilians. These bare facts, from UN and independent sources, give a clear indication of the imbalance of terror and power. The UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission (with which Israel refused to cooperate) documented 36 specific cases of alleged breaches of international law. There were numerous documented instances of the illegal use of white phosphorus incendiaries on populated areas including attacks on at least two hospitals.

The picture I took that got most attention – it was widely shared across the net – was of two young protesters both wearing t-shirts  with a Google front page in which someone had type the word ‘israel’ and had got the response ‘Did you mean: Palestine’. You can see both of them in the picture above on the left, holding up a Palestinian flag and shouting towards the Israeli embassy, calling on them to end the siege of Gaza. I think this is a better picture, even though you can’t really read the t-shirts.

2012 – My Own Favourites – November

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Cleaners protest for a living wage at the Tower

My only regret about the Cleaners Protest at the Tower of London is that I had missed their previous protest, when they had actually gone inside the Tower. On this second occasions they were stopped as they made their way through the gates. There were several pictures I took that I liked, but this one I chose in part because of the obsious power of those puffed out cheeks, but also because it makes clear several things about the protest.  When I was taking it I had some difficulty in getting a clear view of that crown and EIIR on the gate behind as well as one of the few placards on display – the simple single word ‘SHAME’ – as well as the union banners at right.

Guy Fawkes is usually known as the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions, and while our celebrations on 5 Nov started as an anti-Catholic event over the years they have changed. In my youth they certainly had a certain anarchic character, though more recently they have evolved from being things people did in their own back gardens or as a community event into performances staged by professionals, for people whose only participation is to move from watching a screen on a couch to standing in the open in a crowd watching the sky.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

But the graphic novel/film ‘V for Vendetta’ took the anarchic side of the myth and developed it, providing the mask for the ‘Anonymous’ movement, so the Anonymous March to Parliament on Nov 5th was certainly apt if not entirely satisfying; like a firework it started brightly but rather fizzled out. But I rather liked this group on one of the lions in Trafalgar Square before the suitably anarchic stroll down Whitehall to Parliament, where nothing much happened for rather a long time and I got bored and went home.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Election night outside the US Embassy

Truth, Justice and the American way? took the occasion of the US Election to hold a protest against some of the abuses being carried out by the US, in particular over the continuing shame of Guantanamo, still a blot on the nation, still holding men illegally four years after Obama had come into office pledged to close it. The last remaining Londoner, Shaker Aamer is still there after almost 11 years, not because of any crimes he has committed but because of the crimes committed against him, the torture before he was taken to Guantanamo and while there, and the evidence he might give that would incriminate both the US and also the UK governments and agencies. While our governments have asked for his return in public, it seems likely that in private – as over extraordinary rendition and torture – they are colluding with the US to keep him locked up until either he dies or becomes unable to testify.

I think the picture, with three men in orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits, two in black hoods, and one of them manacled and wearing headphones – a reference to the use of “culturally offensive” heavy metal and other music played at extreme volume repetitively for hours on end to send prisoners mad by US Military torturers – standing holding the banner ‘End Extraordinary Rendition’ around the feet of the statue of President Eisenhower with candles lit for the vigil, and a rather bored looking police officer.

On the full-size image I can read the start of Eisenhower’s ‘Order of the Day’ for the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, ““Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!” He continued (hidden behind the banner) “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

The eyes of the world were on the USA on 6 Nov too, and the embassy was lit up by laser-projected Stars and Strips moving across its facade. Down in front of the embassy were around 50 or so “liberty-loving people” calling for the US to march with them again, and to release those illegally held and tortured by them. It was a deeply ironical moment.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
On the top deck of the Campaign against Climate Change bus

The US came in for more criticism on the following day when the Campaign against Climate Change protested in London urging President Obama to stand up against the lobbying, dirty money and media lies funded by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel companies. On My London Diary, in the text of Stop Fossil Fuel Dirty Money takeover of US I referred to it as “The day the USD election results were announced”, a typing error that was perhaps only too true.

The entire presidential campaign had been marked by an almost total silence over perhaps the biggest issue facing the US and the world – climate change. You can’t read all of the banner in the picture above, but ‘End Climate Silence’ is enough. Eventually it was forced onto the agenda at a late stage by the hurricane or tropical storm, which perhaps gave Obama the presidency. His record on climate is poor, but the Republicans abysmal, with many of their leading figures denying climate change or any man made contribution to it. Funding from huge private dirty energy companies – such as those of the Koch brothers plays a large role in US politics.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

This year’s Student March on Parliament was a rather tamer event than those at the end of 2011, and so failed to really make the headlines. The student leadership had agreed a route with police that took them past Parliament and on to Kennington Park, but like quite a few students I gave up before we reached there as the rain began to pour down. Those who made it apparently turned some of their anger against the leaders, pelting them with fruit and veg, but I missed that.

I did take some more serious pictures, but I really enjoyed the humour of this group from the University of Central Lancashire, particularly the young woman in the centre who has been posing for photographers showing off her well-filled #DEMO2012 t-shirt (and there are a couple more pictures of her doing so on My London Diary, which I like too.) I went on to photograph another group from UCLAN with a young woman clutching her teddy bear, which made them laugh too.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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2012 – My Own Favourites – October

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Muslims protest outside Parliament against anti-Islam film

I’ve not watched the YouTube clip that has led to protests by Muslims around the world, and it seems to me that the most appropriate response to such things is to ignore them and concentrate on sending out a positive message. The protests which have led to riots and deaths in some countries seem counter-productive, but at least that in London, although obviously showing anger, was peaceful.

I didn’t find Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film an easy protest to cover, and I missed my 16-35mm which was in for a very expensive repair, and the fixed 20mm f2.8 I was using was not quite wide enough for some situations, though it just about does here. Obviously the flags add some colour, but I was also thinking of them as a way of communicating a message (though as I don’t read Arabic, it was less clear to me exactly what this was), as to was the giant TV screen, although the people here were peering to see the speaker on the stage out of picture to the right.  The prayer caps ( taqiyah or kufi) is an important symbol worn by men to show adherence to Islam (although the form of these differs in different countries.)  I also wanted to show that the protest was taking place outside Parliament.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Muslims protest outside Google against anti-Islam film

Later in the month, Muslims protested outside Google (or at least male Muslims did – the womens’ protest was  a block away down the street) callling for an End to the Vilification of Islam and I made another picture which I think shows some of the fervour of their protests.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Protest in Whitehall calls for green electricity by 2030

The event calling on the government to move to clean energy by 2030 was perhaps more of a media event than a protest, and was an attempt to try and recreate the iconic ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ Tory election poster, but with people wearing green hard hats and the message ‘Green IS Working.’  I have to say my heart sank when I read the press release explaining this as it will have been obvious to anyone with some visual sense that the idea was just not going to work – and it didn’t.  Though the green hard hats did add some interest. I was certainly very glad I wasn’t the ‘official’  photographer whose job it was to produce the picture – though if approached I would have told those who had come up with the idea why it wouldn’t work and turned the job down unless they had changed their plan.

After the attempt to produce this on the Treasure steps facing St James’s Park (and the photographer should have got some usable pictures if not that ‘Saatchi’ image) the crowd walked around to Parliament St and stood around for a while. I asked the person who appeared to be in charge if they intended to protest at Downing St – which seemed the obvious thing to do – but was told that wasn’t at all the kind of thing they would do as it might upset people.

I’ve known the woman holding the embroidered placard ‘Save Our Green Earth’ for years, since my wife worked with her in the 1970s, and have photographed her and her various banners at many protests, and she certainly attracts photographers. But on its own with her banner she didn’t seem to make a powerful image; in this picture it is the closer woman, mouth slightly open and looking up at her flag outside the image as if looking up to heaven, along of course with the other people in green hard hats and banners around that make things work, while the embroidered placard adds its message.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Police grab protester in protest over evictions of travellers

A year after the evictions at Dale Farm – and with more expected – the  Traveller Solidarity Network staged a protest, Fight for Sites, that went to serve an eviction notice on minister Eric Pickles at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which ended in the pouring rain with scuffles in front of the building and a group of protesters occupying a low roof over the entrance.

One senior woman police officer in particular made the job of photographing the protest difficult by continually shouting out that of course we had a right to photograph while practically denying us the chance by forcing us out of the places we needed to be if we were to take pictures.  I was fortunate enough to evade her for  minute or two while she was hounding press on the other side of the protest and was pleased to have the 16-35mm back on my camera to take this image at 16mm. I was of course being careful not to get in the way of the police, but that didn’t need me to stand very far away. If anything I was getting in the way of protesters who might otherwise – as the closest man appears to –  be moving in to try and rescue another protester who has been grabbed by police.

Part of the reason this picture works is my closeness to the action and the steep perspective that this gives, exaggerating the hand of the officer at the left as he grasps the wrist of the protester.  It gave me too the strong diagonal of the protester’s arm from the hand of the officer up to the protesters head and the head of the second officer, with his shoulder and arm leading the eye back into the action.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
USDAW marchers pass Parliament in TUC march for ‘A Future that Works’

The TUC A Future That Works March on Oct 20 was a large event, even if the numbers weren’t quite as large as in the big TUC march the previous year.   This was one of the pictures I thought worked well, with women in USDAW aprons, and USDAW flag and balloon in front of the Houses of Parliament.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Protester, police and manager in protest at hotel using unpaid workfare staff

From the TUC march I went on to follow Boycott Workfare in their protests around Oxford St against businesses  replacing paid workers with unemployed people who have the choice to work for nothing or lose their benefits – Against Workfare and Tax Cheats. Their first call was to a hotel in Great Marlborough St, where I went inside with them.

Police followed in shortly afterwards, and as well as one of the protesters in a devil mask holding a placard ‘Police are Plebs’ the picture shows one of them explaining to the manager that she has to come and tell the protesters they must leave before the police can take action. She seems rather reluctant, but finally did so as you can see in another picture in the story

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Bereaved members of United Families & Friends Campaign at Downing St

There have been a truly remarkable number of deaths in custody under suspicious circumstances over the years, including many where the only possible explanations are that the deaths were a result of deliberate acts by police or prison officers as well as others involving culpable neglect, but not a single one of the perpetrators of these offences has been brought to justice.

The United Families & Friends Campaign has campaigned powerfully for truth and justice in these cases, and has also been remarkable for the support which the families affected by these crimes have given each other. This picture, on the road outside Downing St, seemed to me to illustrate this, with Marcia Rigg, sister of SeanRigg, killed in Brixton Police station holding Demetre Fraser’s mother as she speaks. At the right of the picture is Carole Duggan, whose nephew Mark Duggan was shot by police last year, precipitating the riots, and behind, holding a placard is Kadisha Brown-Burrell, the sister of Kingsley Burrell (and the woman almost hidden is the mother of Anthony Grainger.)  But there are several other images from No More Police Killings, Time For Justice, my report of the annual UFFC march which I also find powerfully emotional.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Zombie Police win second prize in Halloween crawl around London

I try to be objective and detached about the police, who I come into contact (usually not physically) regularly in my work. Many of them are polite and helpful and recognise that I have a job to do just as I realise that about them. I often feel they are being ordered to do the wrong things by their political masters, and at times that they do things badly, and that it’s part of my job to record and sometimes comment on this, but I try to treat them fairly.

But on the Saturday before Halloween on the Zombie Crawl of the Dead I found myself with some rather different police. I first met them in a dimly-lit bar and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they were the real thing or not, though this was soon sorted out when one of them showed me his warrant card. They were the well-deserved winners of the second prize awarded by the organisers of the event. I just hope the police had enough of a sense of humour not to arrest these guys for impersonating police officers, although they seem to reserve this offence for those making a political protest.


2012 – My Own Favourites – September

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

On September 1 the EDL tried to march to a rally in Walthamstow and the people of Walthamstow turned out in force to say they were not welcome. Although I was happy with the pictures I took, there was perhaps no single image that stood out or somehow summed up the event. Today I chose this one of people sitting in the road on the route the EDL intended to take to their rally, I think mainly because of the mix of ‘ordinary people’, citizens of London that it shows, united in their determination that the EDL will not pass. But another day I might chose a different picture, perhaps  of the road filled with people marching behind a banner, or of a brave couple on their own on the march route standing with a placard – and with two police standing on the same street corner.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Walthamstow sits down on the road to stop the EDL

The EDL were in some ways easier to photography, simply because they were far fewer in number, although practically it was much harder as they were surrounded by police and at times rather unfriendly, with several swearing at me or threatening me for taking their pictures.

I wasn’t prepared for the confrontation that looking back on it was inevitable. Trying to be too clever I’d gone down the side street which the EDL march was about to be diverted down by police away from the protest against them, and was a couple of hundred yards away when I heard fireworks being thrown and a lot of shouting as the EDL and their opposition both tried to break through the police lines and get at each other. By the time I managed to get back to the corner most of the actual action was over, though I still got a few pictures including several of one particular confrontation, taking pictures over the heads of police with the 28-105mm at or near its extreme end. I couldn’t get any closer, though that was perhaps just as well. Almost all of the fighting that I saw – and all I  managed to photograph – was between the EDL and police

I was annoyed with myself – it had been a stupid decision to go on ahead, and it bugged me for the rest of the day, though I continued to follow the EDL march until it was held in a side street by the police who judged it unsafe for them to continue. I went on to photograph the small group of EDL leadership who had come by van and set up the PA system for their rally and were now facing a large hostile crowd held back by police. They got the police to tell me to leave their area before I could take any pictures, and along with other photographers I was then in the area between the two groups of protesters. After photographing ‘Tommy Robinson’ picking up a half brick that had landed not far from him and carrying it across to police I decided it wasn’t a healthy place to be, as I refuse to work in a helmet. Already I’d been hit or had near misses from pieces of wood and card from placards; things seemed to have reached an impasse, with police blocking the roads and kettling the EDL and I decided it was time to leave. The EDL had clearly been defeated by the people of Walthamstow, though it only became clearer later exactly how much of a rout it had been – and how the police had really rubbed it in.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
EDL marchers try to get though police line

I was busy with other things during the month, not least preparing for my first one-person show for a while, which although relatively small with around 25 pictures, did occupy quite a few days work printing, framing, writing text and captions, delivering and hanging. And I also had a few days up in Yorkshire, a short break in which I walked and photographed a little scenery and a large family event. So I had rather fewer opportunities to take pictures than in most months.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
‘Rape Survivor’ protests ahead of ‘Slutwalk’

One of the events I was sorry to miss because I was up north was the Slutwalk. But I was able to take a few pictures at a media event called to publicise it and the cause a few days earlier, with a small group of women posing and speaking in their underwear opposite Downing St with appropriate placards and messages on their bodies.

At the end of a month I was interested to photograph a protest for women’s reproductive rights, opposing the recent attempts by militant right wing ‘Christian’ groups to harass women going to abortion clinics and attempts in Parliament to reduce the time limit on abortion, as well as supporting women in Ireland who suffer under strict anti-abortion laws, leading to at least one high-profile death in recent months, as well as considerable difficulties and suffering for many others.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
‘Our bodies are still battlegrounds’ after Barbara Kruger

One particular placard caught my attention, with its message ‘Our bodies are still battlegrounds’ in white text on red background strips across a split positive and negative black and white image of a woman’s face, a slight revision of feminist artist Barbara Kruger‘s 1989 ‘Your body is a battleground‘. It remains a powerful image. I’ve long appreciated Kruger’s work, while continuing to remind people that she isn’t a photographer!

In my earlier review of the month (with different pictures to those in this post) after I’d finished putting the work on line I came to the conclusion:

September I took quite a lot of pictures that I liked, but probably none that will ever end up in my portfolio. Lots of good workmanlike stuff, and things that some of those I photographed liked, but little of the magic that we all need to make something special.