2012 – My Own Favourites – April

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Grattan Puxon speaking in the Holocaust Memorial Garden

Roma Nation Day is April 8, the date of the first World Roma Congress, held here in London in 1971, and Grattan Puxon was one of its organisers.  At least 500,000 Roma are thought to have been killed in the holocaust, and the German government formally recognised the Roma genocide in 1982. As well as holding a short ceremony at the memorial in Hyde Park, the group also went to protest outside the embassies or cultural centres of some other European nations where the Roma are still being discriminated against, including France, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary, and ending after I left them, at the offices of our own Department for Communities and Local Government. The Dale Farm evictions were, as Grattan Puxon said, “very much the tip of the iceberg” here.

There was quite a crowd of photographers and videographers at the event, but I’d got to the scene before most and had carefully chosen my position, with the memorial stone at the centre of the image. I couldn’t know exactly how people and things would arrange themselves around it, but things worked out well.  Using the zoom at 16mm Grattan almost exactly filled the frame vertically. It was a dull day and the memorial garden is surrounded by trees, and I used a little flash to make him stand out from the surroundings, and the low viewpoint gives him something of a heroic aspect.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Andy Greene of DPAC in a wheelchair chain blocking the road

Disabled Activists Block Trafalgar Square was the headline for my story, and this was a picture than for me encapsulated the determination and frustration of disabled people who are suffering so badly from the cuts in benefits and cruelly dismissive target-led tests by Atos, and also the dilemma of the police in dealing with their protests.  Again it shows how the wide view of the 16mm is really needed in the kind of media scrum that happens around these events.

It wasn’t easy to take pictures which really showed the chain that locked the wheelchairs in position across the roadway well, but what really makes this picture for me are the expressions, particularly that of Andy Greene in his wheelchair holding up the chain. Less obvious in the small reproduction is the look of concern on the face of the police officer, also holding up the chain, and the concentration of my colleague holding the video camera. The two still cameras at top left and right also help to add a feeling of urgency; usually I try to avoid other photographers in my pictures, but here it was unavoidable anyway and they have become important parts of the scene.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Pussy Riot protester opposite Russian Embassy

The protests over the imprisonment of members of Pussy Riot have produced some interesting pictures, and there are several in my Protest Supports ‘Pussy Riot’ that I might perhaps have chosen. What makes this one stand out for me is of course the face that this woman is making over me taking her picture – again from a close viewpoint although the 16-35mm was racked out to 30mm.  Hers is also a very stylish mask, with its gold edging – rather a contrast to the roughly cut balaclava at the left, and she is also wearing some very stylish knitwear and a fine large black ring. It was a dull day, and even at ISO 1000 and full aperture of f4 the shutter speed was only 1/30 second, and the only truly sharp part of the image are her eyelashes, but I think the slight blur of her lips as she puckers them adds to the image.

It wasn’t the picture I chose to head the story, either on My London Diary or on Demotix, as there were others that were more recognisably part of the Pussy Riot stereotype, but this was my favourite image, and one that somehow seems rather more Russian.

© 2012, Peter Marshall
Cyclists and dogs call for Safer Roads

The final picture of my April choice was taken in some of my least favourite working conditions, with many of my pictures being spoilt by rain on the lens filter despite my obsessive wiping. It’s also one of the few pictures that I’ve used significantly cropped – not just the little bits that sometimes need tidying where things have crept in unnoticed or invisible around the edges.

My favourite version of this image – seen above in full frame – crops off a little at the top and bottom and around a fifth of the image at the right -just removing that raised hand. Getting dogs to look the right way for a picture isn’t easy and I couldn’t get the framing right too.

Far too many cyclists get killed on London’s roads, and the Big Ride for Safe Cycling was an attempt to get the mayoral candidates to promise to improve things. And all the main candidates – including the winner – made promises, though so far little has happened. There are many ways in which the infrastructure could be improved, but what is really needed is a change in attitudes particularly by car and other vehicle drivers. But it was perhaps unfortunate that the ride didn’t strongly make the point that helmets are not an answer. Most of those who have been killed in London were wearing them and they offer very little if any protection while encouraging drivers not to give cyclists the room they need.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.