Tips & trick for photographing riots, demonstrations and Civil disobedience?

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#1
So there may be some opportunities to document rioting etc on the streets of the UK in the coming months, has anyone any tips on getting that perfect anarchic shot without becoming part of the tableau ?
 
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Hi Ho Silver away !
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#3
So there may be some opportunities to document rioting etc on the streets of the UK in the coming months, has anyone any tips on getting that perfect anarchic shot without becoming part of the tableau ?
Make sure you have a long zoom lens and make sure you keep your distance while taking images, or be safe and watch it on the news.
 
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#4
Is this one of those "be careful what you wish for........"

We now live in an oh so connected world and with any mass gathering situation there are those that crave exposure and those that avoid it there will be many taking photographs.......and a few/many participants who might see 'you' as a target.

From the fortunately few such episodes in our UK history all that happened was destruction and negative impact on all concerned.

Clearly two approaches ~ longer lens and not connected or try the Robert Capa approach and use a short prime and go in 'up close & personal' ;)
 
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#5
Let's hope that you don't get the opportunity.
Totally agree gramps - however - if there are the above problems I would like to document them for the sake of a balanced account, which I have to honestly say, is lacking in main stream journalism at the moment.
 
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Tommy
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#7
Used to photograph this sort of stuff regularly a few years ago during the flag protests in Northern Ireland and a few other things.

Get to know the ringleaders, explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. Get yourself a hard hat to avoid getting a brick on the head. Try to protect your gear as best as you can. I used to use an old beat up D700 for stuff like this that I didn't mind losing. If you get hit by a water cannon no amount of weather proofing will save your gear no matter how well weather proofed it is.

Be aware that you might react differently than you think if it really kicks off, some people freeze or panic and if it gets too bad get away as soon as possible. Park your car far away as well just in case. A few years ago I seen another photographer have his car taken of him and set on fire.

I seen other photographers getting a hard time but as I knew most of the people involved never had any issues except with the police who where less than impressed and tried some very underhanded tactics, but I won't get into that here. Worth researching what your rights are as someone with a camera will always be a target for the police especially if you don't have a press pass. Try and make friends with the press guys they will have a lot more info than you about where the hot spots will be and safe areas to work from.

Don't imagine if there is any issues that it will be like it is here. You guys don't know what a real riot is.
 
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Graham
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#8
So there may be some opportunities to document rioting etc on the streets of the UK in the coming months, has anyone any tips on getting that perfect anarchic shot without becoming part of the tableau ?
I would make sure you know your rights under GDPR, as I am fairly confident this may well be thrown at you by people objecting to you taking photographs. A starting point, if you aren't already up to speed with it would be my two posts in street photography forum, but as should be obvious I am not Lawyer, so take the post for what they are, but there are also some links.

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/t...5-guidance-is-currently-being-written.685659/

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/t...t-photography-any-up-to-date-guidance.684843/
 
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#10
All this 'know your rights' stuff is very well and good, but in the heat of the moment when the bricks, glass and petrol bombs are flying, crowds are running and the looters are looking for their next target, I doubt anyone will have the time or inclination to enter into a philosophical debate about documentary photography! Put it this way, if it's a full-on riot I think there's probably more chance of you getting a Darwin Award than a Pulitzer Prize!
 
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#11
All this 'know your rights' stuff is very well and good, but in the heat of the moment when the bricks, glass and petrol bombs are flying, crowds are running and the looters are looking for their next target, I doubt anyone will have the time or inclination to enter into a philosophical debate about documentary photography! Put it this way, if it's a full-on riot I think there's probably more chance of you getting a Darwin Award than a Pulitzer Prize!
Yes, (I assume this was aimed at me) I obviously don't disagree with that, but there is the period leading up to, and after, the event when knowing about these things could be extremely useful.
 
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#13
Looks like demos on five London bridges today ... Sky News shows almost as many photographers as protesters!
You can usually tell when only a few people have turned up as the camera angles are usually very low, taken at chest height or lower, so you can't see that there's no-one there behind the first two or three rows. Now you'll all be looking for that when you watch the news! ;)
 
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Lindsay
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#15
Avoid unless you really have to be there. My dad was nearly killed by rioting Red Guards (Chinese communists fanatically supporting Mao's wife's faction) in 1966 in Hong Kong, because he was photographing a fairly peaceful but ultimately not demonstration.
 
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#16
I'll probably use my phone as its easier to run with lol :)
 
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Mark
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#17
So there may be some opportunities to document rioting etc on the streets of the UK in the coming months, has anyone any tips on getting that perfect anarchic shot without becoming part of the tableau ?
Tips? Yes. If you've got no experience of public order situations, stay out of the way, preferably at home.

The change from protest to public disorder ('riot' is a legal term and very rarely occurs) can happen in seconds. You need to be incredibly spatially aware, know who is going to cause the problem and most importantly now how to interact with the police.

If you don't know what you are doing there's a serious risk of having your kit damaged, destroyed or stolen or sustaining physical injury.

It's not a playground or an 'opportunity'.



... I would like to document them for the sake of a balanced account, which I have to honestly say, is lacking in main stream journalism at the moment.
We've got it thanks. The coverage of public order incidents in this country in 2010-2012 (the worst for decades) was world class and thoroughly balanced.
 
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#19
You guys don't know what a real riot is.
Whilst NI has a different intensity, the third day of 2011 protests in London had a ferocity that I haven't seen on the mainland since 1981.

I had to drive a fellow photographer across London from Peckham to the North East after midnight and it was like traveling through the film set of The Warriors.

It's the first time I've actually been scared in that environment, mainly due to the sheer lawlessness of the situation. For all NI's violence, you know that someone somewhere is always in charge and running things (on both sides).
 
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Steve
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#20
Looks like demos on five London bridges today ... Sky News shows almost as many photographers as protesters!
I arrived late to photograph the Westminster Bridge protest. Was very well supported, bridge packed solid, perhaps not so at the other bridges. While I was there it was very peaceful, no one dragged away. The livelier events photographed in recent months was the last FLA march and counter march/protest, and a fracking protest as transport left the fracking site, got my shin accidentally kicked while getting in close.
 
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#21
Tips? Yes. If you've got no experience of public order situations, stay out of the way, preferably at home.

How do you see the truth about what is happening sitting at home ?

The change from protest to public disorder ('riot' is a legal term and very rarely occurs) can happen in seconds. You need to be incredibly spatially aware, know who is going to cause the problem and most importantly now how to interact with the police.

I like the police, theres two of them in my family

If you don't know what you are doing there's a serious risk of having your kit damaged, destroyed or stolen or sustaining physical injury.

Don't take what your not prepared to lose.


It's not a playground or an 'opportunity'.

Exciting though if you survive!

We've got it thanks. The coverage of public order incidents in this country in 2010-2012 (the worst for decades) was world class and thoroughly balanced.

That's not been my experience over the last few years, nor any of my friends & at least two family members.
 
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Andy
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#22
Have a UK Press Card so when the police kettle the mob you can get out and get some food (McDs!) for your buddies who are still stuck inside (personal experience).
 
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GC
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#23
Your Third Party Awareness is critical, an innocent protest can turn in seconds.

Don't worry about the big timers at the front, running their mouths at the LEO's, be aware of the shifty characters lurking at the back: nervous, furtive glances are dead give aways. Trust your gut, if it looks hinky it probably is!

Don't stick out like "a spare pr*ck at a party", blend in, the much talked about "grey man" approach.

Some may say it's fantasy but if things do go to Hell in a Hand Cart, have some basic IFAK with you and know how to use it. At a bare minimum carry a decent tourniquet, an Israeli type bandage (FFD for any old squaddies:cool:) and some Celox gauze. If there are food shortages etc come next March, the folks that haven't prepared might become restless.

If it ain't for you then stay at home, if it is then hope for the best but train for the worst. YMMV!

GC
 
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Andrew
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#24
Rule number one - never get into a situation you don’t know how to get out of. If you are going to do this then make sure you have an escape route - as you move and the protest moves make sure you know how to get to the nearest tube station and how you can get to some safe ground. Have pages from an A to Z photocopied and in your pocket. Carry a camera you don’t mind losing or getting smashed. Use a wrist strap, Don’t sling it around your neck where the strap could be tightened against you. Those out to cause trouble won’t want to be photographed so they will treat you with the same contempt they treat the Police with. You will need a bump camp (looks like a baseball cap but hardened) for head protection, a cycle helmet is another option. Take minimal kit, have cash and your keys in a neck wallet under your clothes. Spatial and third party awareness is critical. When the bricks start flying some of them will be heading your way. Remember that....
 
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Fraser White
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#31
I really wouldn't advise being caught up in major public disorder incidents TBH; they are extremely frightening.

Photograph disputes but as soon as it turns ugly get out of there!
 
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