Free Tibet

 © 2011, Peter Marshall

The first event I photographed last Saturday was the annual Free Tibet March, held every year in London around the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.  I can’t remember when I first attended this, certainly in the older thematic index for My London Diary (covering 1999-2007)  I find these entries:

and in the newer month by month index, I was there in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

So certainly since 2000, possibly the first year I photographed it, the only year I’ve missed is 2004.

So the main problem for me is trying to take pictures without just repeating myself from earlier years, and if possible to do something better. Of course it is different each year – different people taking part and to some extent different activities, but the number of people wearing Tibetan colours, yellow, blue and red and carrying or wearing Free Tibetan flags does make for a certain visual uniformity.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

This was one picture where I just missed, by having the wrong camera in my hand when it happened. I was using the D300 and the wide end of the 18-105mm just wasn’t wide enough – it would have been a better picture with the dog’s rear feet visible, but there wasn’t time to pick up the D700 with the 16-35mm attached.

I could have gone in to Downing Street with the group that was delivering a letter, but I find that kind of thing too boring – and will only do it if I’m getting paid for that very purpose – which doesn’t happen often. Photographers normally get penned on the opposite site of the road from that well-known black door, and it’s a long lens job with little chance to get different pictures.

Before the group went through the security gates with the letter they posed for pictures, and I took one, though it isn’t great:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I was a little to one side and it was hard to get everyone’s face in the picture and I ended up with a rather diverse set of expressions, which was one thing that made it slightly more interesting to me than many set up pictures of people holding a letter. The other thing that lifts it a little is the back lighting. But while I quite liked this, the handful of other photographers photographing the group saw it as a problem, and got the group to turn around 180 degrees and photographed them in rather flat frontal sunlight. I did take one but it was too boring to keep.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Had I been the photographer working for the organisation, I would have done it differently in any case, perhaps getting the group together in front of the march rather than by that  rather bland wall. I’d taken a few as they were getting ready to present the letter – like this one, but it was a shame that no one was actually holding the letter in them.

While the deputation and most of the photographers where inside Downing Street I was able to work with rather fewer others getting in picture as I photographed the crowd who were getting on with making their protest known. One of the pictures I took is at the top of this post, but perhaps that below is my favourite:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

You can read more about the event – which I left at Downing St although it was continuing through London to a rally at the Chinese embassy – and see more pictures on My London Diary.

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