Few things I learnt today as a documentary photographer in training:
Fake it till you make it.
A confident attitude, balls, and a PhotoBath membership card will help you get into the Press pit. I just walked up to the press area with an attitude of yes this is all normal for me, of course, I belong here and it worked. I then spent two hours waiting for Greta rubbing shoulders with photogs from all the major UK papers and camera crews from all the major stations. I just tried to look like I belonged – even though I had a Fuji mirrorless camera and they all had six-foot-long lenses.
Buy a more robust umbrella, my cheap, compact one did last but it’s pretty much dead now. Three hours of rain ready does soak you through so it’s needed kit in the UK.
Take more than one hat – luckily I did so when one was drenched I swapped to another
Maybe invest in some kind of rainproof jacket for my camera – Although weather sealed it didn’t like that much rain. Also, good clothes to wipe your camera down is an essential kit.
Maybe also take a small flask of coffee as you can be waiting a long time and it’s cold and wet most of the UK time.
For me personally, I found that if I really want to explore more serious documentary photography – then some events like this need a very decent zoom lens. My Fuji 18-55 was Ok, but a longer zoom would have gotten me very good close-up portraits.
Greta – The world is on fire…
What shocked me was just how small she was and how much weight everyone has put upon her shoulders. She walked up and spoke in front of an estimated 25,000 people in her young seventeen-year-old body, and she was so small that she was in part hidden by her microphone, which really irritated most of the pro photogs who had been waiting with me for nearly three hours to get their shot. Theirs of course is their bread and butter.
But yes she’s looked small, a person with the weight of the entire world heaped upon her shoulders as the figurehead of a rebellion, in real life, she’s way smaller than her growing legend, almost delicate.
The crowd was electric in anticipation for Greta, and after her speech they filed along the streets of Bristol chanting, partying, and promoting their message to all who would listen. I have covered many of the Extinction Rebellion marches and demos now, in Bath, Bristol, and London, and the growth and determination of these very young and passionate people is tbh, to an older man like me quite inspirational to witness.
Daz Smith, Feb 2020