As a New Yorker, I’m well acquainted with how overcrowded Union Square can get over the weekend due to the Farmer’s Market but what I wasn’t prepared for when I walked out the subway was the multitude of cops safeguarding the main plaza and the impressive amount of rally participants chanting “Money for Jobs, Not for War!”
The crowd wasn’t necessarily angry. In fact, quite the opposite. They were enthusiastic for participating in something they believed in and very friendly in taking their time to enlighten you on the purpose behind their strong voices.
If there was ever time where I felt absolutely no discomfort in photographing people, it was here. Generally speaking, protestors would most likely not object to you photographing them because after all, they wish to be seen and heard. Our job is to impartially capture what we see as best we can.
I loaded the 85mm on the Nikon and began getting quite involved photographing which ironically enough meant removing myself from the circumstances and focus completely on the people rather than the cause.
Broadly speaking I didn’t have a sense of what I wanted to capture other than knowing you can’t photograph everything because you’ll increase the likelihood of going crazy. With every genre in photography, you’re far better off capturing 1 or 2 viewpoints very well rather than 5 or 6 very poorly.
Sometimes the most you can expect when you have only one opportunity to capture something is to hope that you’ve at least seized a small aspect of its totality.
With situations like this, they’ll always be elements of unpredictability which to me is the part that makes it both difficult and rewarding.
The one factor I would say influenced the shots I took was the lens I used. As I managed to carefully navigate myself amidst the crowd, I kept contemplating how much more versatile my vision would be if I had a 24-70mm lens as oppose to resorting to the limits of a prime.
I’ll admit to having missed several shooting opportunities because they required a wide-angle perspective. I did have the 28mm f/2.8 with me but when you find yourself in a place where everything happens so quickly, the last thing on your mind is setting your camera down for more than 1 minute.
I wouldn’t say I photographed anything explicitly violent but I must say the excitement in believing that I did was exciting. With the large amount of attendants avidly photographing as much as I was, I’m sure they shared the same feeling.
Feel free to view the rest of the photographs from the rally at Union Square.