Photographing the protest at Downing St, Uphold LGBT Rights at Sochi, it was easy to concentrate on the more exotic elements of the scene, but it worried me slightly, and in particular I pondered over whether to use the above image with some of those in more unusual dress as the lead image to the story.

Of course the great majority of those at the protest were more normally dressed, though many had followed the ‘wear red’ dress code advised for the protest. And probably if they were holding up a placard or doing anything to distinguish themselves visually, if I noticed them I will have photographed them, and there is a chance their picture will have made the edit.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the picture. I was still working with the scene in my usual non-directive way when another photographer barged in and started getting people to stop acting naturally and look at her camera.  To me this is very much the kind of situation where it pays to let people do their own thing – of course they were very aware I was photographing them as I was using flash (it was in one of London’s darker corners.)

But in the end I chose it because it seemed to neatly present the event. At bottom left the name of the group ‘All Out’ that had organised the event, the guy in the Russian military hat with pink fluffy wings holding up a poster ‘Global LGBT Equality Now!’ A man in a white bikini and fur coat and another holding up an uncompromising anti-Putin placard in his red gloved hand. It has all the elements, though technically it isn’t one of my best flash images. And in some respects I think I had put things together a little better three frames previously, with the image below.

The key factor in my preferring the upper image for the purpose was simply the legibility of the ‘All Out’ and Putin placards.

Or perhaps I should have chosen something a little more serious looking, such as Peter Tatchell demonstrating the 6 finger salute – it was a protest involving Principle 6,  the Olympic non-discrimination principle.  He might well have preferred me to use a picture showing a mass of protesters rather than concentrating on him,  and I try not to be too concerned with the ‘celebrities’, although I know that such pictures are more likely to get printed.

Perhaps an image like this one, where he is more in the background. It worries me a little with the text in Russian on the t-shirt of the closest figure, Of course there is a good reason why, but it’s still something of a barrier to non-Russophones (or should that be Russolexes?) and I kick myself slightly for not seeing I’d obscured the ‘H’ of Homophobe.

I’ve obviously done some post-processing to even out the illumination across the image, but as almost always with the pictures I put on the web it could have been done a little better. That head at the bottom of the frame just right of centre for example is too bright. And looking at the image now I’m surprised I didn’t make the red star on Peter Tatchell’s cap more visible.

It shows up much better in this image, taken while he was being interviewed. There are three images from a similar viewpoint on the web page in Uphold LGBT Rights at Sochi and the first was without flash, using just the video light on the camera he is looking into. Here I’ve perhaps slightly overdone the flash or could have brought it down a little in post-processing, and perhaps the red star should be a little less bright. I rather like the green circle of a traffic light, but others might not.

Flash that had been working well earlier in the event rather let me down when I was trying to photograph the handover of the banner with the number of petition signatures on it to the UK Head of Communications for McDonalds, but the real problem was that there was a totally rigid block of photographers around the doorway, wedged shoulder to shoulder. I’d got there a few minutes before while there was still time to get a place, but couldn’t move. At the right you can see the edge of the picture is obscured by part of a TV camera. This was taken at 16mm, and after this people began edging in and I could no longer photograph the whole scene.


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

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