Sunday, April 5, 2009

More street photography for the timid: Demonstrations

In 2004, when Bush paid a visit to the French, he was not greeted with the kind of fanfare he would have encountered in Texas or Utah.

Never one to miss a good public uprising, I ventured out to the anti-Bush demonstration with my camera. Now, before I offend anyone, let me say that this has nothing to do politics and everything to do with a good journalistic-style photo op. Back in the 2002 during the French presidential elections, I attended the right-wing rallies in the morning (although I have to admit that the giant image of Jean-Marie Le Pen on a big-brother-sized screen in front of L'Opéra gave me a sick feeling and I had to leave) and then the massive anti-Le Pen demonstrations in the afternoon. I took video that day rather than stills, but I am glad I have the first-hand footage.

The anti-Bush demonstrations of 2004 were relatively mild. My favorite photo is the one of two "Americans against Bush" looking around for like-minded protesters. To be fair, Bush's approval ratings had already taken a nose-dive (46%) in America. But the image makes me laugh, nonetheless.

I wish I had taken more photos of the anti-McDonald's/Americanization protest performance during which students fell to their knees in mock-praise the golden arches.

I treated the images in a sort of low-grade Holga manner in homage to William Klein's grainy May 1968 photos. The vignetting seemed especially effective in isolating the two Americans in the first photo.

Practical lessons for street photography
  • Get journalistic. Whatever your political point of view, a demonstration makes a great opportunity to practice your street photography.
  • Plenty of people will be taking photos at a public demonstration, so there is no need to feel timid.
  • Your photos of political/social events have more personal value than a newspaper photo. I certainly would love to have photos of the events witnessed by my grandparents.
Have you ever had the opportunity to photograph a public event such as a demonstration? I realize that they may not happen as much in your city as they do in Paris, but when/if they do, you might want to get out your camera.


willam said...

Street photography generally refers to photographs taken from the public places like streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other same places

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