Crossing point. A modern blockade
Recently whilst working in London for a client I’ve had the opportunity to cover (and attend) a number of protests which for a photographer is a really exhilarating experience, heads rolling up the road for as far as the eyes can see, placards waving with the beat of thousands of feet and the sounds of drums, trumpets, kids shouting with their parents all in one chant. It’s a real human experience which you have to tap into but not yield to it. putting your own views aside so you can capture or at least try to, the beat of the march, eyes everywhere searching for that moment, that flash of brilliance that shines a beacon over the rest and feeling the mood (is it still friendly has the anger turned to aggression?) it’s a rush of the senses to try and take it all in as quickly as you can, choose your spot (that you be at for 10 seconds or half an hour) and start to scan the crowds and then dive it lens first and capture it.
So after I’d finished work on a beautiful day in London, I left Somerset house knowing that Extinction rebellion were protesting in Trafalgar square and I had a few hours before the train so off I went striding down the strand getting mentally prepared, having the camera out and on with spare batteries in my pocket, a super wide on the body and a 50mm in the other pocket taking test shots as I go so my eyes fully adjust to being outside and get a base meter reading. The closer I get I start to see flyers and the streets started filling up and the London head kicked in and the great capital weaving walk begins, darting through the crowd like a novice seamstress to get to a vantage point, but there was no distant noise, no cheers being carried by the wind just the usual city noise. A sense of dread kicked in “I’ve missed it” I thought, well I was completely wrong about that.
When I got to Trafalgar it was like nothing I had ever seen before a very different experience a sense of quite of calm. I entered the square from the top of the stairs by the NPG. passing the street
artists (and a guy dressed as Pikachu but holding the head part and just walking about saying hello in a high pitch voice) I came across a vicar at the top of the stairs giving a sermon about the great dangers are world is facing whilst behind him people are sat silent in circles holding up various signs, it was the opposite of what I was expecting, I turned around and looked down into the square at Nelsons column it had been transformed into some sort of small settlement, so in I went.
The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming sense of community a weird sense of safety and calm, a man showed up next to me with a massive beer cooler preceded to open the lid and offered everyone stew an orderly queue formed and the man started dishing it out, next to him about 4 makeshift huts had been erected and meetings, discussions and talks were happening in each.
Walking round this Extinction Village I heard a piano playing and pinned it down quickly and found this lad playing the cornfield chase from interstellar and playing it amazingly. It was something I’ll always remember and I’m so glad I captured it. I know I could have got better but sometimes I just want to experience the moment. And when he finished his piece he got on his bike and disappeared.
I turned around to go back into the village and I was taken aback by these beautiful creatures walking around the Square and indeed central London in silent movement “this is fucking brilliant” I screamed in my mind a real highlight for any photographer and there where many of us in the square all trying to capture that moment and I’m sure we all did. As I left the Square to head home, I went through the camp site (the protesters had even made pathways through for pedestrians and cyclists which in my opinion is a lovely thing as consideration for others should always be part of all of us.