So April 2016 bought with it a rainy day in London when the homeless march took place. It started on the main road outside of 10 Downing Street, (no one could actually stand directly outside 10 Downing Street; it was well protected with huge wrought black iron gates and a couple of security guards, to keep the commoners out of course). People were standing around, some looking miserable, others waiting and anticipating, a few preparing their signs and banners. The march was taking place in protest of the spikes that had been put up in places around London where homeless people slept to discourage them from sleeping there. There was also a new law that had come into effect which allowed the police to fine homeless people for sleeping rough. How the homeless were going to pay off the fine when they didn’t have a home was beyond me.
I had wanted to shoot some kind of a live social action campaign in black and white with just my 50mm lens for a while now. This was the perfect opportunity. Although the 50mm doesn’t allow zooming in and out, it takes really good pictures. They’re sharp and clear and I can get a really nice shallow depth of field, making the pictures look beautiful photographically. I also think it’s good to restrict yourself sometimes and see how creative you can be with it. Sometimes restricting yourself gives you better results as having no restrictions can leave you a little clueless about where to start and can even be a little overwhelming at times.
The crowd grew bigger over time. More and more people joined and in the end, there were at least a few hundred people. They started walking down the main road towards Oxford Circus. I loved the rain, it was perfect. The roads gleamed with wetness, evoking a sense of loneliness in a big city full of people and lights which the homeless people must feel and I thought the various black umbrellas that popped up here and there were so ironically British. Someone wore a Guy Fawkes mask and I thought to myself, ‘How symbolic and powerful, I must at least get a good mid shot of this guy’ and discreetly followed him around until I did.
Usually, I always shoot in colour and decide whether I want the photos to remain coloured or to convert them into black and white in post. It’s safer that way. However for this event, I decided I wanted to shoot it all to be in black and white. Partly because I wanted to shoot differently and partly because I felt the monotone reflected the story perfectly. And also I knew it would look good, because let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with black and white. It’s a timeless look. I felt like I was reporting the event and although my photos weren’t going to be used in the newspaper, I was still recording and reporting an event in history. I guess I was influenced by the old black and white images I’d seen in history text books of the war and fancied having my photos used as a source of reference at some point in the future.