Maggie’s At City Hall

People who work in PR often seem to inhabit a different universe, one where bloggers such as myself would be interested in promoting new drink flavours, management services I can’t even understand, celebrities I haven’t heard of and the like. Although they send me messages which tell me how much they admire my blog, they very clearly have never actually read it or they would know that if it doesn’t have some clear link to photography or the kind of social and political causes I have an interest in I’m very unlikely to do more than curse them and press the delete key.

Of course I would welcome approaches from some that seem to never happen, particularly if they offered really useful free gifts.  Back when I wrote for it was company policy (but often rather elastically observed) that I must not accept anything worth more than $25 from any outside body, and I did turn down a couple of all expenses paid foreign trips. Of course when I did accept software or accessories or books for review I didn’t let it colour what I wrote – and got a few rather pained responses from some of the companies concerned to prove it.

But the e-mail from someone at cancer care charity Maggie’s Centres was different, firstly in that it was a very worthwhile cause but also because it came from someone who had clearly looked at my web site and they were organising an event which fitted generally into the kind of thing I like to cover for My London Diary, where you can finally see the story (published with fewer images on Demotix the day it happened) Maggie’s Charity Hugs London.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Maggie’s run centres for people suffering from cancer and their families, offering support from the time of diagnosis, during and after treatment, to recurrence, end of life or in bereavement. Their major London fund-raising event is an annual night hike which is also a special open house event, with those taking part paying a fee which includes refreshments and entertainment inside a number of London’s iconic buildings, specially opened for the event.

This year they began to enrol people for the event just as the London ‘riots’ began, and the numbers signing up were drastically down – even though the event was to take place in mid-September. So they decided to hold a demonstration and march in central London to try and get some more publicity and encourage people to sign up.

Photographically it wasn’t an exciting event. City Hall isn’t a great place to photograph – and if you get the building in, the people look too small.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

Of course Tower Bridge does provide a truly London background. There was not a great deal happening, a few people in green t-shirts, a few placards, some very mildly risqué. The charity had a photographer present who did try to set some things up (which I generally refuse to do), but there was still very little.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

It was perhaps interesting to be able to work there without any harassment from security – the last time I’d been on that spot was for a photographer’s protest against restrictions on photography in this area.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I followed the official photographer inside the entrance to City Hall to try and photograph from the inside the line of people hugging the building. The lighting was completely wrong, turning them into near silhouettes, but their shapes lacked the interest this might have had. Using flash on camera was out of the question as we were working directly through the glass. Given an hour or so, the odd lighting technician, a bunch of lights and a good choreographer we could have made something of it. I spent around an hour later in the day trying to dig detail out of the image with the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

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