Advice for photographers covering demonstrations
Before covering any demonstration, time spent on preparation usually pays
off in keeping safe and getting good pictures.
Research & recce
- Check with the organisers of the demonstration its times and route.
- Are there feeder marches?
- What are the expected numbers?
- Are there expected problems, any counter demonstrations?
- Will it be marshalled?
- Check with police press office demonstration times, route, expected
numbers, any expected problems, any counter demonstrations, whether it
will be marshalled.
- Always carry a map so you can check alternative routes and exit points.
- Leave yourself time to drive the route to check for places for good
pictures, trouble spots, level of policing, exit routes.
- If you are parking a car, think carefully where you leave it, as you
might need to get out in a hurry.
- If you park too close to the demonstration your car could get damaged or
blocked if there is trouble.
- If you are a freelance on commission, are you insured by the media
- Wear strong walking boots.
- Wear strong, tight-fitting clothing which allows you to move about freely.
- Always remember the weather and dress accordingly.
- Carry only a small camera bag with the minimum amount of equipment so you
can move quickly if need be.
- Do not carry other equipment such as a step ladder.
- Have enough film or electronic memory in case it turns into a major
- Shin guards, kneepads, body armour, helmet - all or some may be worth
thinking about. [A bicycle helmet is less likely to attract trouble than
a Darth Vader jobbie - ed]
- Let someone know that you are covering the demonstration, what time you are
leaving and at what time to expect you back.
At the demonstration
- What's going on around you while you're taking pictures? There's a world
outside the viewfinder and trouble can come from behind as well as in
front of you.
- If you are working as a journalist you should not be taking part in a
demonstration. At all times you should be distinct from the protesters.
- You should not work alongside the police as the demonstrators may mistake
you for a police photographer.
- Always carry your press card in an accessible place and use it to
- Carry your cameras openly and act like a press photographer at all times.
- Keep an eye on fellow photographers in case they need help.
- Carry a copy of the NUJ's and Thompson solicitors emergency phone numbers
in case you need help.
- Always work in such a way that if something happens you can extract yourself.
Remember the tank commander in Kelly's Heroes:
"I always like to get out of trouble, as quickly as I got in to it."