The Year in Pictures

It’s that time of year when every publication is pushing out it’s version of the year in pictures (and while last year one of my pictures featured in at least one of them, I don’t anticipate it happening again.) But looking at one of the better examples of such reviews my mind went back to a picture taken on 12 May 1937 by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Judging from the New York Times, the ‘milestone’ of the year in Britain in 2011 was a royal wedding (though they also have a fine picture by Facundo Arrizabalaga of the riot police in Croydon) , and the wedding image, while well-timed and perfectly exposed is frankly rather boring and anodyne – just like almost all the rest that the press used from the event. Cartier-Bresson was photographing a coronation rather than a wedding, but a very similar royal event, and managed to make a picture that has a great deal more to say.

I tried hard not to photograph this year’s wedding, but literally had to step over the people camping out in Westminster as I went to photograph a protest on International Workers Memorial Day, so I did take a few pictures of them which you can see in Waiting For Will & Kate.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

On the day itself I kept well away, though I did take a few pictures at Republic’s Not the Royal Wedding Party and just one or two on my way home through Soho, where the event was certainly seen as a good excuse for a party.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
Of course you can see my own record of the year at great length on My London Diary, although so far it only goes more or less to the end of November (which I’ll say more about when I’ve given it a final check.)

It is of course events in London not shown in the New York Times or My London Diary or elsewhere in photographs that are having a great effect on the world economy, but people clicking mice or working on a keyboard generally make for boring stock rather than news photos. If you want to understand more about how banks and financial organisations working in the City of London, largely unregulated since the Thatcher-inspired Big Bang (and, yes it was them and not Gordon Brown, David Cameron, George Osborne or us spending recklessly on credit cards or even dodgy mortgages) have destroyed the UK economy and threatened the world, there is a graph of G10 Debt Distribution which deserves to be featured in every review of the year, produced by  Morgan Stanley. It shows the UK’s financial sector with a debt of over 600% of our GDP, dwarfing the relatively small government and household debt.

There is a section in the NYT year about the Occupy movement, which has raised many of the issues (or, as the politicians and press like to say, doesn’t seem to know what it wants), but good as some of the photography is, it is also an illustration that it is the moments of conflict and drama that attract us as visual people, while for me the Cartier-Bresson image with which my thoughts started perhaps leads us to think more deeply about the issues. But I doubt if it would make the papers today.

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