Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Strike

I love me a good protest. A group of people that are pissed off enough to grab a sign, chant and  march through the streets usually make for a good photographic learning experience.

This post isn't about whether the protester's ire is justified or whether public employees should be allowed to strike, it's about me learning to take effective photos. Frankly I need the practice - I already know what I am going to focus on next time I get the opportunity. 

The SEIU local representing semi-professionals for the County of Riverside were just that upset last week and went on a one day walk-out. I just couldn't pass it up.

 I got there a little late, this is the crowd during a rally outside the County Admin Center. This was just after the had been booted from the Board of Supervisors meeting. I wish I had been here for that!

As with any good rally, speakers were present to get the troops fired up.

 One of the speakers was a candidate for State Senate. He used to be a State Assemblyman, back in the day. I don't know what he's been up to lately, but I do know that he was VERY pro fire service when he was in the assembly.

 After the rally, a picket line was formed in the parking area near the Administrative Center. It was basically a large circle and appeared to be designed to not interfere with people entering and exiting the building.

I sort of know this one, she can be trouble!

I spotted my buddy the fire marshal, patrolling the edge of the crowd. I heard that he had asked some protesters to leave the atrium area of the admin center earlier in the day, as they were blocking the exits. I don't know if it's true or not, I haven't had the chance to ask him. I snapped his picture from a couple of hundred feet away - I'll probably send it to him for his "I Love Me" wall.  

 After a break for lunch, it was time to take the show on the road. It seemed as the crowd grew for the march, I am unsure why. Maybe some workers who went into the office in the morning decided to walk at lunch, maybe some folks from other bargaining groups showed up late. I really don't know.

With a crowd that large, marching through the streets is going to impact traffic.

Being stuck in traffic rarely is an environment that wins friends. An orderly protest and an RPD presence helped ensure that everyone played nice and behaved themselves. Democracy in action.

 After the march, things kind of slowed down and I left. I met the Saint at the Salted Pig and we enjoyed an adult beverage or two. The number of people wearing purple shirts inside and the stack of signs at the door led to me believe that the Salted Pig was the end-game for many. Good pick.

What did I learn from all of this? I learned that I need to spend more time capturing the human element of the event and less time on the event itself. I saw some pictures that the SEIU had taken and I liked them much better. They showed the emotion of some of the participants displayed, something that I missed. I guess there is always next time. As this is the county seat, there is often some form of protest going on so there is always an opportunity to learn.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Some of the photos the SEIU takes are posed shots. Stills generally require a burst mode of some sort. The photo taken of the march using a high vantage point is good, but it might be better. I like the vantage point and the motorcycle cop next to the marchers. Of course oftentimes the good shots just do not materialize.

    You caught a good one of the fire marshal - he's displaying the correct attitude.

  2. Mad Jack - I liked the one of the Fire Marshal as well, though my favorite one of the lot (except, of course, the one of the troublemaker)was #3, the one of the woman speaker, taken "through" the crowd.

    Both were taken with a long lens, large aperture. I was experimenting with my new lens and a F2.8 stop. I like the shallow depth of field, maybe too much.

    Again, there was way more interesting stuff at the individual level, something I missed. I was still moderately happy with the results because I learned something and I got to plat with the long lens.

    Thanks for the comment, I enjoy critiquing photos.