Spontaneous Images

I’ve little idea exactly how many protests I’ve photographed about the continuing shame of Guantanamo, and of the incarceration and torture there of innocent prisoners, particularly of London charity worker Shaker Aamer, held there since its early days over 13 years ago. At the moment we are hearing encouraging rumours about his possible release, but there have been hopes before that have come to nothing. Both US and UK security services are thought to be hoping he dies in captivity rather than emerges to give evidence that would severely embarrass them about his own torture and that of others, and he is still being subjected to regular beatings and other mistreatment.

The London Guantanamo campaign have been holding a monthly protest at the US Embassy for over 8 years, and although try to attend any special protests they and other groups arrange, I only cover these regular protests if I’m going to be in the area for other reasons. They are generally rather small events, just a handful of people, with perhaps one or two in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, with a few posters, but mainly that there is little to photograph that I haven’t already done and done again. It’s a very worthy cause, but one that it is hard to make news.

As you can see from the small set of pictures at Shut Guantánamo! I didn’t stay long at the April protest, and didn’t find a great deal to photograph. I do rather like the one at the top of this post, because it presents the major elements that were present – the Obama mask, the Obama quote ‘We tortured some fo..’ (I hope most people will supply the missing ‘lks‘) and another poster about rendition with images and text ‘No Impunity for Torturers‘, and I think it does so in a lively way, with an extra hand at right holding out a card and at first glance Obama almost looking convincing.

Of course it isn’t a great photograph. There are a few things I would like to have been just a little different (including that hand which obscures the ‘lks’). If I’d been directing a scene the second take would probably have had the messages on the cards visible too. But this has a spontaneity that would be lost in posing.

The second protest I was on my way to was a short walk away outside the offices of Annington Homes, the company that is evicting people from Sweets Way in North London. The company hopes to make millions from these ex-military properties it bought on the cheap by knocking them down and redeveloping the site. It’s something that is happening all over London, cheap housing, often social housing being redeveloped into ‘luxury’ flats, usually with little or no regard for the people who live there either from developers or the local councils.

The great shortage of housing in London has led to huge increases in house prices and market rents. We need a huge growth in council housing to house the people we need to keep London running who can no longer afford even the so-called ‘affordable’ rents, but instead what is getting built are expensive properties for the wealthy, including many who will not even live in them, but own them as investments, cashing in on the ever increasing prices.

Again this is a picture I like for its spontaneity. The gestures and expression of the man holding the banner (and of course the child at the other end.) The deliberate cutting off of the cyclist at left. Taken at 16mm I was very close to the bike. You can see at Sweets Way at Annington Homes a few of the series of pictures that led up to this one.

It was a protest I enjoyed photographing, with plenty of movement and different situations, although the street had enough traffic on it to make it difficult to always be at the right place without getting knocked down.

The pavements are fairly narrow, and most pictures that I took required me to be standing in the road. Fortunately in these fairly narrow streets the traffic was normally slow-moving, and I was in little danger.

This was a long and busy day for me, and I’ll perhaps write about some of the rest of it later, after I get back from taking some more pictures.


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 taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


One Response to “Spontaneous Images”

  1. >Re: PHOTO says:

    […] ‘Rays’ on Photography and Photographers « Spontaneous Images […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.