Seasonal Greetings: Bells not Bombs

Apologies to those readers who have already received a Christmas Card from me, either physically or by e-mails, but finding one picture that was recent, appropriate and visually literate was the best I could do, so you will already have seen this.

Festive demonstration outside London offices of one of the three companies that make the UK’s nuclear warheads at Aldermaston, Dec 2008

 Glory to God in the highest,  and

on earth peace,  good will toward men


Someone did ask me whether I had arranged this group for the photograph, (or rather they accused me of doing so)  but as usual I was able to reply that all I had done was to be in the right position at the right time and keep thinking and shooting as things developed.  It’s a picture in which body language was very important, and the only one in a short sequence where the guy in the ‘radiation suit’ at left has a strange lean away from centre. I also shot a similar image without flash:

Two frames and 10 seconds earlier without flash

but I think this doesn’t for me work quite as well, partly because my eye goes to the two very bored looking security men on the door.  I also like the picture with flash partly for the way it picks out the foreground slightly, and especially the figure lying on the ground (a deliberate reference by the demonstrators to the outlines of bodies etched on pavements by the atomic bombs dropped on Japan) but also to the ‘fault’ of the reflection on the shiny black door of the bomb-makers offices – which the remaining security guy seems to be regarding with concern.  It appears to me like there is an explosion taking place inside and this flash is escaping through the door.

People often ask photographers if they ‘saw’ certain things in their pictures when they were making them.  Well, I certainly don’t stop and write things down – and the pictures are the best record of how I was thinking. In some ways it helps not to have too set ideas of what I’m trying to do which would stop me trying to push things further and make things less open to chance.

Minor White had a lot to say about photography.

every photograph a celebration

every moment of understanding a birthday


So enjoy and celebrate.

Background Information

Picture shows the North-London based group of Trident Ploughshares, the ‘Muriel Lesters’, in festive protest on 12 Dec 2008 outside the London offices of the leading company behind nuclear bomb production at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.

US company Lockheed Martin leads the group making warheads for the Trident replacement and is the makers of ‘bunker buster’ and ‘cluster’ bombs, the worlds largest exporter of weapons.

The UK’s Trident replacement program is an illegal breach of the UK’s obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Around a week after I took this picture it was announced that the one-third stake in the UK bomb-making programme previously owned by British Nuclear Group (BNG) has been sold off to another US firm Jacobs Eng, outside whose offices the Muriel Lesters also demonstrated.

The group of protesters takes its name from Muriel Lester, (1883–1968), born in Leytonstone, was a leading Christian peace campaigner and writer. Among many other things she founded Kingsley Hall in Bow, was a friend of Ghandi, Travelling Secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and was detained for ten weeks in Trinidad and then several days in Holloway Prison for her activities during the Second World War.

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