15 November 11
Posted at 9:26
Since starting back on my degree in September I have been spending most of my time working as Picture Editor for Arts London News. ALN is the weekly newspaper operated by journalism, photojournalism and sports journalism students. at the London College of Communications Finding any time to get out shooting has been a massive challenge as I normally stay in the newsroom until around 7pm trying to ensure that when I arrive the next morning, the world hasn't ended. It's a fantastic learning experience, and I've had endless fun bossing around the team of photographers.
One of my first opportunities to escape the newsroom came at the beginning of October, with a UK uncut demonstration against proposed NHS reforms on Westminster bridge.
The idea was for thousands of protesters to suddenly play dead on Westminster bridge, blocking traffic, and highlighting their cause. Unfortunately for them the Police deprived them of the pleasure of blocking the bridge by closing it themselves, lining the Westminster side with a small army of officers prepared to hold back any attempts to get closer to the Houses of Parliament. The day was a photographic washout with seemingly more phtoographers than police and protesters combined covering the demo, all in all, it was one of the dullest afternoons I've had in a long while, with the only saving grace being selling the shot below to the Daily Telegraph and the i.
Just as some other photographers and I were planning our escape, somebody noticed a lovely cat leaning out of the Palace of Westminster, spying on the protesters below. This of course provided minutes of quality entertainment for us photographers. After some investigating I have learnt that the cat belongs to none other than John Bercow, who has a flat in the Palace.
Next up on my list of fun days out was the Occupy London Stock Exchange demonstration, designed as a sister campaign to the 'Occupy Wall Street' demonstration in New York. After another few hours running around the streets of the city trying to find an entrance into Paternoster Square the protesters shacked up outside St Pauls.
Not expecting the protesters to make it a full night outside St Pauls I waited for the impending police eviction, which after several hours of kettling almost came to fruition when around fifty TSG officers fought their way kicking and punching onto the steps of St Pauls, citing that they needed to protect the Cathedral. The police let them stay the night, and they have continued to occupy the square since then.
Moving forward to the end of the month I decided that on Halloween rather than follow the regular student tradition of dressing up like a scary drunk (or in my case last year, a drunk smurf) I would go out and photograph the fun. After strolling around for a couple of hours I quickly realised why more people didn't try it, and I made my way towards Charing Cross where I was confronted by streams of Police vans full of officers speeding down Whitehall. Now despite my wishes to catch my train and fall asleep quickly, I felt compelled to investigate.
As I approached Parliament I knew something odd was happening as hundreds of officers guarded the front of Parliament (slightly more than usual for 11pm on a Monday), I soon discovered there was a protest happening opposite Parliament, near College Green.
I investigated and discovered it was a demonstration against the proposed change to squatters rights. Around 200 people had arrived, catching everyone else unaware. When I approached one protester and asked why they were protesting here, when they knew that protesting outside Parliament without permission is an arrestable offence, I was greeted with the stock response of, "This is where it all happens, tomorrow the government will potentially destroy this democratic right". I understood why you'd protest outside Parliament, I just couldn't grasp why 11.30pm on a Monday night was their chosen timing.
Unsurprisingly I was the first member of the press on the scene and with only my 7D and plastic fantastic (50mm 1.8) I was challenged to try and get something worthwhile.
Long story short, the police warned the protesters that if they didn't leave they'd be arrested, many left, some didn't, the rest were arrested. Then I went home, through a combination of nightbus and taxi arriving in at 4.30, and filing before catching a glorious three hours sleep before my next full day in the newsroom.
Finally for this entry, I shot my first gig this year recently, Switchfoot at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire last week. I'd forgotten how easy it is to shoot ridiculous amounts of images in such a short amount of time (An overly generous 4 songs). It also made me really want to get a hold of some more primes, next on my shopping list is the 35mm f2, which unfortunately, nobody seem to have, so if you have one and want to sell it, let me know!