London solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

While some of my anarchist friends are always happy to be photographed, others fear being identified in pictures, and have very negative feelings towards photographers. I sometimes am told that I should blur all the faces in pictures that I publish showing anarchists and aniti-fascists, something that in general I am not prepared to do. Generally I reply that if people are in public and wish to hide their faces they should ‘mask up’. It usually makes my pictures more dramatic too.

We do have some control over our appearance in public, and many hide all or part of the time behind masks or other face coverings, make-up or even beards. But if we are in public we will be seen by others, and also photographed, if only by the many security cameras that litter our streets and public  and private buildings.

Many are particularly suspicious of being photographed by the press, feeling that any pictures will  be used in a way that discredits them. Clearly there are photographers working for some publications who have these as an aim, but I’m not one of them, and those who know me generally know they can trust me, although once a picture goes to an agency I will have little or no control over how it is used.   It’s certainly important to think carefully about what you do and don’t file.

Although I don’t believe their fears of being photographed have any real foundation (or sense), unless there seems to me a good public interest  reason to do so I will try to avoid taking pictures of people who clearly do not wish to be photographed.

Quite clearly at the rally in front of the Cable St mural to oppose racism, xenophobia, fascism and the upsurge of far-right populism and to show solidarity with Russian anti-fascists there were people who did not want to be photographed,  and both I and the videographer who was recording the event for the organisers were careful to avoid upsetting them. It did make for a slightly edgy situation, and there were a few times I would have liked to take a picture but did not. Except for the images of those speaking at the event, I think for all of the pictures which are dominated by a single person or small group I asked permission before making the picture. There were very few who said no, though one did hold the placard I was interested in up in front of his face.

There were half a dozen other freelance photographers who had come to photograph the event, but I think I was the only one who took pictures during the rally, with others waiting in the street outside the public park until people came out for the march – and all those who were camera-shy were appropriately masked up.It ws during the march, and particularly as it passed under the railway bridge that it became most dramatic. But although I like to make dramatic pictures when I can, the most important thing is to tell the story, and I wanted to include the pictures of the speakers and banners underneath the mural, as well as some of the rather short rally in Altab Ali park at the end of the march.

More pictures, text and captions: Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

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