G8 Protest Photography

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by joe_williams|3, May 15, 2012.

  1. The G8 summit is being held near me this weekend, and there are protests planned in the area. It will be easy for me to get to at least some of the protest venues, so there may be some interesting photo opportunities. I'm interested in hearing any experiences or recommendations you may have regarding equipment, technique, clothing, safety, or whatever else you think would be worth me knowing, especially if you have covered similar events previously.
    Camera-wise, I'm considering whether to take my dSLR with a 70-200 mm lens; not subtle, but the reach could be useful. I also have a Canon G10, which is much more portable, but not as flexible. Presently, I'm leaning towards carrying both, with spare batteries and cards. I plan to wear shorts, a shabby t-shirt, a floppy hat, and sturdy shoes. I'm going to carry a bit of water and sunscreen. What else should I be thinking about?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. I plan to wear shorts, a shabby t-shirt, a floppy hat, and sturdy shoes. I'm going to carry a bit of water and sunscreen. What else should I be thinking about?

  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    If you're going to be at the events, you should take something wider. Most of the great photos I've seen from these kinds of events are taken in or close to the crowd, and a 70-200 isn't going to let you do that. Also, you may not have a clear view with a long lens unless there's somewhere to be up high. I almost always shoot events with a 24-70.
  4. Id, bail money, business cards (so you can prove to the cops that you are a pro photographer)...
    +1 on the suggestion of a smaller lens - Although in some instances the 70 - 200 may be useful as a weapon - not that I'm advocating violence - merely defense.
  5. @Simon: my wife cackled when I told her about your post. ;-)
    @Jeff: The G10 goes pretty wide, about 24mm equivalent, if I recall correctly, which is why I was thinking both cameras might be a good choice. Alternatively, I could put a 24-105 on the dSLR, and carry that alone. It's certainly much less bulk and weight that the 70-200.
    @David: I'm not a pro, so I'll just have to fake it.
  6. Joe - Do you really mean the G8 summit this weekend at Camp David? (ie, up in the Catoctin Mountains of MD), or the NATO summit in Chicago?
    If you are talking about the G8, from what I hear on the local news, my understanding is that the protest events will likely be spread out and move from the local town, to the nearby park and Cunningham falls, and even to Frederick, MD, with likely extreme difficulty getting from venue to venue.
    Jeff's advice is still right on the mark, but the logistics of this is going to be very, very different from shooting a city protest.
    Tom M
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    so you can prove to the cops that you are a pro photographer​

    This is going to sound really stupid, but it works. Police (official) press passes are extremely hard to get here in San Francisco. The main reason they're hard to get is probably that you get to park anywhere and everyone is desperate for a way to get free parking. If I am going to any event that doesn't have sanctioned media passes, I take passes from other events. I wear a couple of them around my neck. Amazingly, people respect them, even, on one occasion, the police, who let me past a barricade I wasn't even trying to get past. Just don't make any claims that aren't true - if I get asked, I just say I'm an event shooter and grabbed the pass on the way out. I've even told people they were from a different event and had them let me by.
  8. It's expected that the G8 protests will attract a serious police presence. Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and other agencies will likely be involved as well. They've already moved this meeting from Chicago because of the "threat" of protester presence, and will not be playing games. Keep an eye on the NATO protests this week in Chicago, and take a look at youtube videos of the Democrat and Republican conventions in 2008 for a preview of what to expect.
    As a 8 month veteran photographer for Occupy LA. and a several years of similar protests, I'd suggest you get some eye protection. I have some safety glasses that look just like regular eyeglasses I keep with me. Those "less lethal" weapons the police have are pretty damned lethal to an eye if one gets hit.

    I'd also be prepared with some pepper spray antidote, like a fifty fifty mix of Maalox and water in a small bottle. I'd also suggest you rethink wearing shorts.
    If police declare an "unlawful assembly," you may be arrested if you remain. Make sure you have a back door out of there. You should know that police are regularly arresting anyone remaining in those areas, press or not. I know of several credentialed reporters, legal observers, and other non-protesters that have been arrested. I also sat in on some of their trials. Trust me, you do not want to get arrested.
    I'm definitely not saying don't go-- I'd be there if I could be-- but be prepared for the worst. I'm sure you'll have a great time.
  9. I'm going to be at events in Frederick, MD on Friday and Saturday. The venues are walking distance from my house, and
    I expect there could be things to see along the way.
    I very much appreciate the advice about precautions in the event things get ugly, and am adjusting some of my thinking
  10. There were over 400 arrests and many injuries about 2 years ago from the G20 summit protest in Toronto when it turned violent, so I would probably beef up the fashion to offer some protection.
    I would also skip the Canon G10 and stay with a wide lens on the DSLR, or strap the Canon G10 on your body to record continuous video if you don't have a camcorder.
  11. Legend has it Robert Frank "borrowed" a press pass from a strangers jacket in the coat check room during a political gathering; one that yielded one of the pictures in "The Americans". Jeff has a great idea using previous press passes, I never thought of that. I have a few laying around someplace, I may have to keep one in my glove box just in case. I know some folks who get together for flickr group meet ups who made laminated flickr badges to wear that may fool some people who don't bother to take a closer look. I have a friend who does volunteer work for the LAPD and he once gave me some odd looking security pass card. I never used it; I showed it to my boss and asked him if a stranger showed this card to him, would it fool him. He looked at it for a moment and said "not a chance."
    As for advice I cannot add anything that hasn't already been mentioned. However, I must also emphasize the use of wide angle lenses. Using long lenses which require one to back up to focus are a waste of time, since people will always walk into your shot. Use a wide lens, you'll be glad you did. One of the things people tell me after they look at my prints from Occupy LA is that the pictures give them a sense of actually being there.
  12. Yeah, like others say, go wide. I find that my 17-40 on a crop body works well. I'd use my 24-105 on a full frame body, but I prefer using my lighter and less expensive rig for that sort of thing. Oh, and whatever lens you take, I think everyone can forgive you for putting a protective filter on it!
    It looks like Damon and Jeff have some great advice for you! Good luck!
  13. dlw


    A gas mask might come in handy!
  14. As it turned out, it was pretty much a non-event in Frederick. There were never more than 100 people around. A friend who lives next to the park where today's events were held says that there is more going on on an ordinary Saturday. The ball fields nearby were unused, for example.
    Thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful responses.
  15. Too bad, Joe! I guess you can keep the Maalox around for heartburn.

Share This Page