Arms Fair Die-In at Parliament

Pictures with flags blowing in the wind are always something of a challenge, and it took a little patience and luck to get this Bahraini flag blowing how I wanted it.  The picture was made during a photo-op at the Houses of Parliament organised by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) as a part of its week of actions against the DSEI arms fair that was taking place in East London.

I don’t much like such ‘photo-opportunites’ as they usually end up with a large group of photographers, often with some kneeling and others standing behind them taking a rather boring group photograph. Most of the pictures of course look rather similar, and it’s depressing that newspapers seem to like these predictable images. So I take at least one of them, but try to provide something more interesting, though too often it will be the posed one that sells.

But I’d gone to this one partly because I think about the last thing we want in London is an arms fair, but also because I expected CAAT to provide a more varied event than most to be photographed, and I was right.

Someone did suggest that I was either holding the flag or got someone else to hold it, but that wasn’t the case, though I have to admit I have occasionally done so in the past. But this was the second of five frames I made, and they show convincingly that it was blowing free.

I was using the Bahraini flag for several reasons. First for the same reason that it and the Bahraini protester on the ground at my feet and just out of the picture had brought it – that arms from deals made at earlier DSEi arms fairs sold to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had been used against peaceful protesters in Bahrain. But it was also for its graphic effect, and not least in an attempt to simplify the rather messy scene in front of me – which you can see in another image taken just a few seconds later.

Both images were with the 16-35mm on the D700 at 16mm, and at ISO 400 and exposures around 1/320 f8.

The red banner with the message ‘exporting conflict and repression’ is more or less at the centre or the top picture (though you can’t read the ‘UK’ at the start), with the red continuing into the jumper around the waist of the woman holding it and to the fake bloodstains in the ‘victim’ on the ground and also on the stripes on the ‘tear gas’ canisters.

I think it’s an image that would benefit from just a slight crop at right – not every image quite fits the 3:2 format, and I find the figure on the extreme right in a white shirt pulls my eye away a little. I suppose too that I would have rather have had a slightly more recognisable view of the Houses of Parliament as the backdrop, but you can’t see Big Ben from this part of Old Palace Yard.

Of course I took more pictures, and after the ‘photo-op’ there was also something more of a protest and a short rally, with Jeremy Corbyn coming out to talk to the protesters., and pose with them for a few pictures.

You can see more pictures at Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament.


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.

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