Downing St Art Direction

Saturday at noon I was at Downing St to photograph a vigil. It marked 9 years than an innocent London resident has been tortured and kept, for most of the time in solitary confinement, at Guantanamo. Everyone who has looked at the case seems to come to the conclusion that despite what they may say, both US and UK governments do not want Shaker Aamer to be released where he could talk to the press and solicitors, give the evidence he has about how he was tortured – by Americans but with British secret service assistance – both at Bagram Air Base and in Guantanamo, and also how others there were treated.  His evidence would certainly be extremely embarrassing to both governments, but that cannot be an acceptable reason for keeping him incarcerated, and the governments need to be shamed into letting him free.

It wasn’t a big demonstration, and we had to wait until enough people arrived to take the picture that the event organisers wanted. It looked like this:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The message is clear enough, and it wasn’t too difficult to take, but it just isn’t very interesting visually, often a problem when organisations think up what they think will be great ideas for a photograph. Still at least this was easy to take, and with the 16-35mm I could even stay on the pavement to get it all in, although the other couple of people taking pictures had to dodge the buses in the middle of the road. Sometimes the ideas that certainly untrained art directors (are there any other sort) have involve that curious camera that is able to point in two directions at the same time or somehow levitates at 20 metres above the ground.

It looked a little better from one side, for example like this:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

At least now the interest in the picture isn’t confined to a narrow strip across it – less than a quarter of the image area in the upper picture. Or I could put it into a better overall picture like this:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

though I should have compromised my principles and moved the woman with the placard closer to the slogan, enabling me also to get rid of that foreground post by moving up to it to take the picture.

But my favourite image from the fairly small number I took didn’t use that long long line of text at all.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Although it doesn’t mention the 9 years, the rest of the message is pretty clear, and it shows the two figures at the vigil who might be recognisable to a wider public, Kate Hudson of CND amd London’s Green MP Jean Lambert, along with one of the organisers.

You can read more about the event and see the few other pictures that I took on My London Diary in Shaker Aamer – 9 Years in Guantanamo.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.