Archivi categoria: protest

I Shot the Trump Inauguration Protests and Got More Than I Bargained For

Yesterday, I went out to photograph the protests in Washington, D.C. during Trump’s inauguration. I’m a professional freelance photographer, and I had never really taken a stab at photojournalism before, so this seemed like a good time to try.

I followed a group of protesters and they ended up leading me to a big intersection where people were dancing and a band was playing; it was a pretty peaceful group, and everyone was having fun. I got some great shots of that.

Maybe five or ten minutes later, a parade of protesters came through and absorbed that crowd — I tried to capture as much as I could and followed this new large group down the street. We came to an intersection and it was packed from corner to corner. The entire intersection was surrounded mostly by protesters with police forces in the middle — including a line of riot police decked out in full shields, masks, and mace guns. The protesters were chanting “let them go!” which I imagine was in reference to some people who had recently been arrested. Tensions were very high.

A stitched panorama of the protest scene

I couldn’t get a good shot, but there was a sign I was able to sit on that put me about 8 feet up. I took a few shots, and then a group of maybe four or five Trump supporters (all wearing the easily identifiable red hats) tried to cross through the crowd to get to the other street. They were met with boos, and suddenly one of the protesters beaned a Trump supporter with what looked like a large bean bag.

The man was hit in the face and looked to see who had done it. Suddenly someone took a swing and there was an eruption of chaos. The riot police immediately engaged the crowd, spraying out mace and firing tear gas.

It wouldn’t be easy for me to get down, and everyone was running and fighting beneath me so I didn’t move — thinking the police probably saw I was just taking photos and wouldn’t pay too much attention to me.

I was wrong.

They screamed “get down!” and I said “Okay, I’m coming down!” That statement was met with a large release of pepper spray directly into my eyes from about 2 to 3 feet away. I fell down to the ground hard, camera in hand. I angrily tried to stand and said “You c**ksuckers! I’m a photographer, not a protester!” before being slammed with a shield to the ground.

I heard protesters shouting “Save that guy! Someone save that guy!” and was grabbed and had someone holding my arm while I ran with him telling him I couldn’t see.

We stopped maybe fifty yards away and they tried to flush it out of my eyes. I was in immense pain, and just kept telling them I couldn’t see. People started running and the guy said the police were coming, and tried to get me out of there. I forced my eyes open for about ten seconds and ran as hard as I could before they wouldn’t stay open any longer.

I was moved to a bench and then an EMS team moved me to another area farther away shortly after. I couldn’t see for over an hour. The people — none of whom I could see — were all very nice. I remember that a Jen and a Katie stayed with me and offered water. A man named Jonah brought me some milk.

Here’s a selfie I took after finally being able to open my eyes.

It was quite an experience. I think there are some things I could have done to maybe avoid that situation, but I also don’t think I should have been attacked quite the way I was. I try to be empathetic to all sides.

Ultimately, the photos were worth it, and I even got a short video when I accidentally hit record on my camera:


About the author: Taylor Mickal is a professional freelance photographer based in Washington, D.C. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Image credits: All photographs by Taylor Mickal and used with permission

What It’s Like to Shoot the RNC and DNC… from Outside the Barricades

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Many people would agree that this year’s presidential contest is one of the most polarized and combative in living memory. For that reason, it felt particularly important to me this year to be in Cleveland and Philadelphia capturing the people and events that would surround the candidates and conventions.

I work as a freelance photographer, so I pitched a photo essay of each convention to publications I work for and got the green light, but no credentials to enter the actual conventions. My assignment, then, was to show what was happening outside the 8-foot perimeter fence.

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First up was the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where protests were widely anticipated and violence was thought to be a possibility. White supremacist groups and anarchists alike were claiming they would be there on the streets to make their voices heard. War photographers were flying in from the Middle East, anticipating a major event (many bringing gas masks and kevlar armor with them). I also thought it would be a significant event, not unlike Chicago in 1968.

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We were all wrong. Very few people showed up to protest. Those that did were surrounded by roughly 5,500 police officers from state and federal agencies as well as the National Guard.

The story from Cleveland quickly became the overabundance of press and police contrasted with the very small number of people who came out to protest. One image I captured (below) seemed to sum this up in my mind. I joked that if every journalist in Cleveland had been a protester, the RNC might really have gotten shut down.

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The Democratic Convention in Philadelphia proved to be very different. Many, many more people came out to march and protest, even forming temporary tent cities in FDR Park near the convention. It reminded me a lot of Occupy Wall Street.

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There were marches from City Hall all the way to the convention site (about four miles) and protests late into every night.

Demonstrators burned American flags and got into heated arguments with other protesters opposed to the burning. Some groups climbed the barricades, and at one point the security perimeter was breached when a gate was cut open. (It was quickly secured and people were arrested.) The protests also tended to run late into the night, so your long days often folded into even longer nights.

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One thing that struck me at both conventions was the very clear restraint demonstrated by the police.

In Cleveland, I witnessed multiple occasions where the Chief of Police Calvin Williams came out to talk to agitated protesters and help diffuse situations, using a relaxed and receptive demeanor. In Philadelphia I watched police officers gently preventing young protesters from climbing a low barricade around a Septa station saying “Please, don’t.”

The protesters who did get past the barricade were cuffed, but not arrested. Instead, they were given tickets and immediately released.

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All that was a massive change from my experience at the 2004 RNC in New York City. Normally, when I head out to cover protests you prepare yourself for encounters with the police and possible arrest. I did have some protective gear with me at both conventions, a skateboard helmet, gas mask, safety goggles, eye flush solution and gloves. In the end, the only thing I needed was a rain poncho.

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While the protective gear was unnecessary, a few things are essential for covering these conventions from the streets (besides your camera gear): good, comfortable shoes or boots, water, sunblock, sunglasses, general press ID, spare phone battery, bandana, and bandaids for blisters.

You tend to be out on the streets walking non-stop for at least 12 hours every day, and in this case under a blazing hot sun for most of it.

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The other aspect that is essential when trying to cover such a large event over an expansive area are sources for intel. You need to be able to find out where and when events are scheduled beforehand, and often within a moments notice. My main sources are social media and other colleagues. Facebook and Twitter can yield a lot of information, especially if you can do the research beforehand to line up sources to check throughout the event.

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I am also fortunate to know a handful of other photojournalists who often cover this sort of thing. Trading tips is a great way to pay things forward and get a lot in return.

While this is a competitive field, I believe you tend to get much more out of helping your colleagues than you do by building walls due to competition. Not to mention that being able to check in with other photographers to get live on-site reports can save you long unnecessary trips, or confirm you need to be headed to a location ASAP.

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We’re all in this together, trying to tell the story of these moments in history.


About the author: Tod Seelie is a documentary and fine art photographer based in New York City and Los Angeles. He recently published a book chronicling the unseen side of NYC’s underground culture, BRIGHT NIGHTS. The New York Times said “His images at times elevate mere weirdness to a more striking realm of visual intrigue… Strange, vivid, baffling and relentlessly unexplained, they leave their viewers transfixed.” You can find more of his work on his website, blog, and primarily his Instagram.

Photo Editors Weigh In on Jonathan Bachman’s Iconic Protest Photo

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Amidst a barrage of violent imagery in the past week graphically illustrating the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, Jonathan Bachman’s image of a protest in Baton Rouge has emerged as iconic.

It’s already being compared to some of the best civil protest images of the 20th century, and shows stoic defiance in the form of nurse Ieshia Evans clad in a flowing dress as she’s detained by a militarized police.

The image has been covered in Buzzfeed, Time, The Atlantic, and been reposted by numerous celebrities. Writer/Photographer Michael David Murphy penned a detailed analysis of the visual elements in the photo. To say it’s struck a chord would be an understatement.

One of Michael David Murphy's annotated break downs of Bachman's photo.
One of Michael David Murphy’s annotated break downs of Bachman’s photo.

The characteristics of the still image make it both successful and contextually ambiguous. As Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams stated, “Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation.”

From merely looking at the photo, we don’t know why she was being arrested (she was blocking a public road), why the police are in full riot gear (the protest was two days after the Dallas shooting), and whether she was forcibly detained and removed (she was not). But none of these details seem to alter the strength of the image as both a visual record, and an artful and defiant message.

I reached out to a number of veteran photo editors to get an insider’s take on what makes the image iconic. Below are their words:

Elizabeth Griffin

For storytelling to be considered great, one of the all-time best writers, Stephen King, says the story must contain two things: drama and empathy. I thought about that upon seeing Jonathan Bachman’s image from Baton Rouge. By its very nature, it’s a dramatic image — it’s a dramatic moment. But it’s also an image that captures so much human experience in one instant that it elicits an immediate emotional response.

Bachman’s picture delivers this experience in a few ways: First, the juxtaposition of Ieshia Evans’s graceful, almost ballerina like posture standing in a billowing summer dress with no armor and a calm expression and the heavily armed, military-like look and movement of the police in riot gear. It’s impossible not to feel moved by that contrast.

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Second, there’s incredible tension created between the two sides of the frame as well, with the left half of the frame weighted by the dark uniforms of the police and the right side of the frame light and relatively open.

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And third, it’s a very clean frame with the key action directly in the center…so we are drawn right to it, right into it.

There is so much in this photo for the viewer to connect with and to see meaning in, to see a metaphor in, to see a story and a dynamic that has been repeated for ages in, whether Bachman intended for that or not. It is a remarkable, respectful, sensitive capture of an extraordinary moment and one that has earned the ‘iconic’ label so many are assigning it.

Griffin is a former photo editor for Esquire.

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Guy V. Solimano

The riot-gear clad officers are seemingly taken aback by the lone woman, both beautiful and defiant at the same moment, halting them in their tracks. The phalanx of officers at the left of the frame amplify the apparent absurdity of over-reaction. Our nation is in turmoil over the recent shootings, we are inundated with the same protest images and photography that seems to take sides, not entirely true to the tenets of photojournalism.

Like the Tank man image of Tiananmen Square a generation ago, this image shows singular defiance to the authorities perceived as unjust. At The AP, we used to say, “send the one best image.” Jonathan Bachman nailed it.

Solimano is a creative consultant and former AP photo editor and photographer.

Donald R. Winslow

The body language says it all. They are combatants. She is femininity. They are prepared for brutality. She embodies serenity. She stands tall, dignified, composed and at peace, facing what could have been, but thankfully was not, a very physical encounter. She embodies the peaceful resistance of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi; she bears the stylish grace of a Raphael painting or a statue by Michelangelo. It is a contradiction of both time and space.

It has been said that history rhymes rather than repeats. This image speaks to our informed visual subconscious and draws upon so of the many of the works of art whose common themes come to mind. In our worst nightmares the barbarians at the gate have come for the women and children, and by their sheer numbers and overwhelming strength we are powerless to resist. Images such as this one speak to our fears and force us to contemplate how we could have allowed ourselves to come to this place. We have no good answer and are ashamed.

Winslow is the editor of News Photographer magazine, and former photo editor for Reuters.


Stella Kramer

The first thing we see is her stance—strong, solid, unblinking—firmly rooted to the ground. She owns the space around her. There is nothing to distract us from her. She faces the soldiers (because that is what they are) in a dress, vulnerable. They are fully covered in armor. The two who have approached her are off-kilter, as if the power of her has rocked them back on their heels.

To the left you see the wall of soldiers, adding to the sense that she is alone, that she waits for the inevitable arrest. She doesn’t move, offering herself without resistance. That makes it harder to understand why she is about to be arrested. She has done nothing.

I see the jagged crack in the asphalt dividing the line between them. Her and Them. She is the man in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, the woman alone facing the crowd of Neo-Nazis in Sweden.

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She makes us question ourselves and what we are prepared to do. Do we have the courage she has?

Someone called this photo “Princess Leia and the Stormtroopers.” That connection to our shared experience makes a cultural touchstone of this photo and makes it unforgettable.

Kramer is a creative consultant and Pulitzer Prize-winning former photo editor for The New York Times.


Whether or not Bachman’s image is elevated into the pantheon of truly historic images remains to be seen. It is, at the very least, an incredible record of a troubled moment in our country’s history of race relations, police distrust, and the power of still photography.


Author’s note: The responses in this article have been edited and condensed.


About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter, which regularly publishes resources for photographers. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article was also published here.