A few weeks ago a documentary photography workshop based around the UK general election caught my eye. Sadly I missed out on a place so when I heard about a cancellation this week I leapt at the opportunity. This morning six of us met with our tutor Brian Duckett, at the photographers’ café in Millbank, just yards from the election action in Westminster.
Brian talked us through the tasks a photojournalist would expect on a day like today. He also gave us our remit for the day, in the shape of particular aspects of the election story we needed to illustrate. These included aspects such as the proximity to Christmas, the division in the country over Brexit, the possible election results and the potential effect of the weather on the election turnout.
Before lunch we explored the area around Westminster, taking in one of the local polling stations, Downing Street, Conservative Party headquarters and College Green, usually a hive of activity for demonstrators and TV broadcasters alike. Oddly, the whole area was remarkably quiet, with an almost complete absence of demonstrators or political characters so we were going to have our work cut out to complete Brian’s brief!
After lunch we split into two groups and went out on our own to complete our brief. Within our trio of photographers we decided to focus on the weather and Christmas aspects of the brief, all the while looking for gestures and characters who could illustrate the possibility of a hung parliament. I had some success with my weather shots, coming up with a selection of people with umbrellas in various party colours. I also happened upon one Father Christmas crossing the road by Westminster Bridge!
Ultimately, I found the lack of interesting characters rather disappointing, but I still learnt a lot and it made me think much more about different ways of illustrating a story.
12 December 2019