Vaisakhi Reading 2018

Sunday was the day that the Reading Sikh community celebrated Vaisakhi. This procession knocks the other local religious processions out of the park. It is reverent, colourful and inclusive.

The Sikh community, process round a long route which takes them from the Cumberland Road Gudwara to the London Road Gudwara on the A4 via Earley. When my kids were small they used to follow the procession as the participants gave out sweets and the Sikh shop keeps on the route used to give out sweets for free.

Whether they do that now I know not, but the procession remains a colourful and photographable event that is worth an early start for.

I wanted to concentrate on shooting portraits of the participants and trying to record the faces of those taking part. Here are my pics:

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If you want to see the full set, please click on the bus:

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Do pictures lie?

In politics they have a concept called optics, it means that it is not only the message or project that has to be right, it has to look right as well.

Look at this image, of my former Church celebrating Palm Sunday this morning.

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The worshippers are all facing the speaker and their backs are faced away from the road, away from the general public.

What does this say to the outside world? What do the optics say?

If I was copywriter looking for a headline I might caption the picture:

Church turns its back on the world

or perhaps

Wycliffe Rejects Reading

I know that many of the people in this photo, who’s faces you can’t see because they are turned away from the road are some of the most outgoing and fab people I know. But, this is the power of photography, sometimes it can tell us something else about what is going on.

Sometimes it can show us a connection that the subject or even the photographer could not have told on his or her own.

Sometimes photos do lie, but sometimes they tell us an uncomfortable truth that we cannot see without the mirror of a photograph.

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How would you caption this pic? What has it said to you about Wycliffe and its message, proclaimed on the banner….

Anti-Conservative/DUP Coalition demo London

I spent a very hot Saturday outside Downing Street photographing the Anti-Tory/DUP Coalition demo. The crowd of a couple of thousand, gathered on the Ministry of Defence side of Whitehall to express their anger at the Conservative/DUP coalition, the Grenfell Fire and the state of the nation.
No To DUP Coalition Protest

The demo was led by the left’s poster boy, Owen Jones, captured in the image on the right, and was addressed by a selection of Labour politicians and community leaders. Each leader denounced the agreement by the Conservative government, under weak and wobbly PM Theresa May, and the DUP.

The crowd, while relatively small in comparison with other demos I have seen, was united in its opposition to the agreement. My abiding memory of the event was that it was very very very hot. This heat, however, probably dampened down the atmosphere as it was too hot for rioting and mayhem.

No To DUP Coalition Protest

As usual with any UK demo the main outlet for anger was the myriad of different homemade banners that was on display. You can see the full set of banners and my photos from the site by clicking on the picture below. The first picture, is of a set of traffic lights that I saw at Trafalgar Square and thought worth photographing. It is a reminder of how far the UK has come in the last couple of decades and perhaps shows why people are so angry with the Tories, cosying up with the DUP.

No To DUP Coalition Protest

Demonstration in Frankfurt

I have just come back from a grey day in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I was there for a photoshoot with one of my Burlesque friends, more of in a later post. But as I arrived at the station, which was a short walk to my hotel, I was greeted with this site:

Kurdish Demo In Franfurt

Something was obviously about to happen.

There was….

This….

Kurdish Demo In Franfurt

As you can see not everyone was happy to be photographed, in fact someone demanded that I present some sort of credentials before I carried on. They accused me of being a member of the Turkish Secret Service, which I thought was a little far fetched until I heard on the radio yesterday that the Turkish Secret Service was definitely monitoring dissidents in Deutschland.

Obviously not everyone was unhappy at being photographed

Kurdish Demo In Franfurt

The demo trundled by with many more serious faces and fewer home made banners than you normally see in a UK demo.

If you click on this link you will be able to see all the pics I took.

Strangely enough as I walked up the road, I bumped into a number of Turkish demonstrators. Kurds and Turks are not famous for being friends so the close connection of the demonstrations was interesting. Whereas the Kurds were demonstrating against the Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish Demonstrators where demonstrating against Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Frankfurt in the Spring

I think this demo, or perhaps more of a Happening, was trying to get Frankfurt’s Turkish population to vote against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming referendum about taking more powers to himself – At least I think thats what they were demonstrating about.

Frankfurt in the Spring

And just when you thought that one smallish town had had enough demos for one day, in the same street as the Turkish demo I came across as small demo by Frankfurt’s Iraqi community.

Frankfurt in the Spring

These guys were gamely trying to highlight the suffering of their fellow Iraqis at the hands of so called Islamic State.

All this happened before I even had chance to go to the cabaret show I had come for and before the photo shoot I had planned.

While standing in a grey Frankfurt street trying to set the Middle East to rights seemed a tadge pointless, you can but admire the strength of character of the demonstrators and the determination of them to have their say.

Reading Stands With Orlando

I was very honoured to be asked to be the team photographer for Reading Pride’s vigil – “Reading Stands with Orlando”.

This somber and dignified occasion saw Reading’s LGBT+ community come together to stand with the victims of Orlando and their families. The names of the victims were read out and speeches were given by Chair of ReadingPride, Andrew Adams, Tania Ellwood representing MyUmbrella’s speech, Patrons Sarah Hacker and Kirsten Bayes and Jamie Wake. The speeches were marked by musics Thames Valley Gay Choir and a choir from a local school.

It was moving to see the Mayor, Councillors, the Police and people from all over Reading stand in silence and to remember that Hate Crime against the LGBT+ community is still a terrible fact of life.

You can see my pictures here:

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Praise the Lord!

I spent Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter with Wycliffe Baptist Church who celebrated Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The church process around Newtown and  the surrounding area. I have shot the procession before but this year was wet as wet can be. You can see the full collection here but I thought I would post couple of pics here.

 

Giving Voice to the Voiceless

Today I was fortunate enough to see a talk given by Don McCullin the renowned photographer who began his career taking pictures of street life in London in the 1950’s and then moved to conflict photography. He was asked why he took pictures and why he concentrated on wars. He spoke for over an hour, eloquent and engaging, however he summed up the reason for photographers to take photos as being to give voice to the voiceless and to allow those who cannot defend themselves to be recorded and defended.

He was an inspiration.

Demonstration

While working in London I came across a demonstration outside the Benneton Shop in Oxford Circus. The demonstrators, about three in number, were standing outside the store and using their megaphones to bellow in to the store and protest about the use of fur. I am not sure what effect they had but they were very loud and the great British public dealt with it by ignoring them. You can see a couple of the pictures below and see more of my demo/riot work by clicking on the link here

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