Chinese New Year

London today celebrates the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, but I don’t feel any great need to go and take pictures, or indeed to go and join in the celebrations.

I’ve nothing against the Chinese, and I’ve been to the celebrations in London most years. The roads will be crowded for the parade and later in the day the streets of Soho’s Chinatown will be packed to the gunnels (or gunwales) with crowds trying to watch as the lion dancers and their teams of drummers visit the many shops and leap at the hanging greens above their doorways, or queue to eat in the many restaurants.

© 2008 Peter Marshall
Chinese New Year, Soho, London 2008

It’s certainly a spectacle worth seeing, but I’ve seen it before and photographed it many times and don’t feel a need to repeat the experience. Looking at the pictures from last year or earlier years

© 2006 Peter Marshall
Chinese New Year, Soho, London 2006

© 2005 Peter Marshall
Chinese New Year, Soho, London 2005

I feel I’m simply repeating myself (though of course I did take other pictures:)

© 2004 Peter Marshall
Chinese New Year, Trafalgar Square, London 2004

but perhaps the best are from earlier years where I shot mainly in black and white and concentrated on the people

© 2002 Peter Marshall
Firecrackers, Chinese New Year, Soho, London 2002

Of course it’s an event that brings out the Flickrati in droves (again I’ve nothing against them but don’t feel moved to join them, though I do have a free account with 97 pictures there) and where everyman and her dog has a camera and is pushing to get pictures – so, unlike some of the other events I photograph I don’t think my pictures will be missed.

And it’s actually much harder to work with amateurs than with a whole pack of pros.

Pros tend to be aware of other photographers and to “do as they would wish to be done by“, at least to some extent working together as a team and not deliberately impeding others; a certain unwritten etiquette applies (though TV crews sometimes think they are God and treat still photographers as dirt.)

© 2006 Peter Marshall
At the last second a hand appeared blocking my view

But holding a camera phone at arms length and concentrating on its small screen makes some people (mainly young and male and self-assured) completely oblivious to the presence of others as they happily walk right in front of me as I’m photographing or hold their phone right in front of my lens.

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