Refugees Welcome

Lee Jasper and Zita Holbourne lead the Black Lives Matter bloc

Every time we press the shutter release we are making choices, expressing a point of view. What we chose to photograph and how we decide to represent it. And later, which images we select from those we have taken and how we put them together to make a report, and the captions and other text we present with them. Covering events like the large march and rally against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism organised by Stand Up to Racism on March 19th perhaps makes those choices more evident than many other events.

Marcia Rigg fighting for justice over the killing of her brother Sean by Brixton police

Of course the great majority of the British people have an immense sympathy for the plight of families fleeing from the wars in Syria and elsewhere, or indeed from famine and extreme poverty elsewhere – even despite the efforts of our billionaire-owned press and Tory politicians to demonise them, and a government that has almost totally failed to step up to the challenge.

But this was an event which brought together a huge range of issues and although I tried hard to cover them all, of course my view is a personal bias. There were many people on the protest that I knew and had photographed at other protests, and there were also those who would be known to a wider public. Although I try not to concentrate on celebrities, pictures of them, particularly of those who spoke at the rally, are important both in terms of gaining publicity for the causes and also paying my bills, though I try no to be over-influenced by the latter thought, and as much as possible avoid the media scrums around well-known figures.

There is also the question of visual appeal. Some people are certainly more interesting visually than others, and as photographers we have to make pictures that people will want to look at. We dramatise events, picking those who stand out in some way to photograph, and doing so in a way that will engage others. Dramatic gestures, unusual placards are to photographers like a flaming candle to moths.

A very small group of protesters against the march who stood around the statue of Eros and shouted abuse, protected by several rows of police certainly attracted far more attention than they deserved – and I took a few photographs. They were a part of the story, but only a very small part.

One of the reasons for ‘My London Diary’ and this site is to enable me to present a much wider view of events such as this than is possible through the mainstream media. I think I posted far too many pictures from this event, but they do allow you to see that wider view, if very much from my perspective.

But though it’s obviously from my point of view, for me it’s vital to maintain a certain objectivity and distance from what I’m photographing. It’s important to me to be fair and not to misrepresent what I’m photographing, whether I agree or disagree , approve or hate. I often see pictures by some other photographers and think that had I taken that particular view – perhaps catching a picture of someone caught in a way that makes them look stupid – I would simply have deleted it, even if I don’t like them. If you ever see a picture by me that looks as if someone is making a Nazi salute it will be because I sure they were doing so and not just waving. Without integrity documentary is without value.

Refugees Welcome Rally
Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

Australians protest against their country’s racist immigration policy

I left shortly before the rally in Trafalgar Square came to an end to go to a much smaller event also taking place on UN Anti-racism Day. Another reason for My London Diary is that I knew this would get no coverage at all in the UK’s mainstream media – though the other photographer present was covering it for an Australian newspaper.

Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day


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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.

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