Pride 2011

I was in two minds over whether to photograph the Pride Parade in London this year. But in the end I did, and ended up with rather similar pictures to those I took last year, and the year before that… But there were just a few that were different, and perhaps this was my favourite:

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I find something very satisfying about this circular group of three young women, close together with the differences in their body language (and bodies) and gesture but somehow fused into a single entity, and having a good time waiting for the parade to start.

I first photographed Pride in 1993, and looking back at the contact sheets I find they are titled ‘Gay Rights’, and it was then still very much a political event as well as a personal one for those taking part.  Now it is very much a festival and a parade, and a celebration of what the gay community has achieved and has a very different feel, and though there are still reminders of battles that still have to be fought they are rather marginalised.

It is still an interesting event, but I hope my pictures – taken as a whole – still reflect something of the agenda and not just the carnival.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Pride is one of the few events I cover where I bother to get accreditation; although it happens in public space it is fairly heavily stewarded, and difficult to work in parts without a press pass.  In parts the stewards make it difficult to work even with one, and the press, myself included, got pretty fed up with the lack of access to the celebrities at the front of the parade, where stewards most of the time kept us well away and stood between them and us. I managed to grab the image of Peter Tatchell and Ken Livingstone, but  was soon pushed away.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I was perhaps less upset than most other photographers, partly because I was happy with that picture, but mainly because I had little interest in the rest of the group at the front, not having the slightest idea of who any of them were. For me that’s just one of the advantages of never watching TV!

I kept on walking in front of the march to Piccadilly Circus, then stopped to cover the parade more seriously. I chose to stop there because it would give some at least of my images a recognisable background, and the curve of Regent Street where it comes in to there is also elegant if apparently always marred by scaffolding.  The parade moves in fits and starts through this area,  usually giving plenty of time to take photographs, and the streets there are wide enough to give plenty of light.

There was also a useful area by the street side around the closed Underground  entrances where I could stand and work without getting in the way of any of the spectators who had been waiting behind the barriers to see and photograph the event. I know how annoying it can be when a  photographer comes and stands in front of you at some critical moment, and although we have a job to do it’s nice to be able to do it inconveniencing the public as little as possible.  Of course some of those crowds watching are also interesting to photograph, and I particularly liked one gay dog watching.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Probably it would be more interesting not to photograph the parade but to concentrate on the other events around Pride, particularly in Soho a little later in the day. As it was I felt too tired to continue working after around five hours of the preparations for the parade and the parade itself.  I suspect next year’s London WorldPride Parade on Saturday 7th July 2012 might be a good time to think about something different.

More pictures from this year at Pride Parade on My London Diary.

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