Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Being shouted at and crying in the same day

Another month of work has gone by and we are now in September, my favourite month! Its got nothing (much) to do with it being my birthday towards the end of it, but more to do with the fresh air coming in and the last-days-of-a-dying-summer feeling; although to be fair, in the UK, the summer never really sprung to life this year. But this is where September usually comes in and rescues things with some amazingly beautiful days of warm sunshine. Seasons aside, this was the day:

My first job was down at Brixton prison where fire departments from three different stations had been called out to. Six fire engines were standing around doing nothing. I chatted to a friendly fireman when I got there and he said it was just a suspect device that they were checking out inside the prison, probably nothing, the number of trucks was just standard procedure, etc.

I then went over to the cordon - which anybody can walk up to - and took a couple of snaps and was then approached by a jobsworth fireman. He politely asked me to 'get the fuck out' despite all the regular office workers being allowed to stand next to me and look (at a scene where nothing was going on, I might add).

When I asked him why he said it was his managers orders. Sadly, this upstanding fireman 'wasn't in a position to reveal his managers name', or to get said manager to come down and say it in person to me, and then he promptly said the POLICE will come if I don't move. I said that is fine, you can bring the police if you want, and you'll see that they cant move me either, unless you first extend your cordon and remove these 'civilians' as well.

In the end I just said 'I'll move' and did so after getting my frames, but why, oh why, are people in uniform hellbent on telling trained members of the press what to do, while at the same time letting people stand around with their camera phones and not moving them? Some battles are not worth fighting, and this was one of them, but dang, I thought firemen were professionals as well? Next time I'll just bring my (future tense) P6000.

Two minutes later the firemen were given the all clear and they rolled back home to their stations...

The place to get the latest on these developments is, as always, on photographer Marc Vallee's blog. Interesting to see how we have moved on since the 90's.

The last job of the day was a vigil for a murder victim who died in Camberwell in September last year*. Quite a large group of friends and family had come, including the victims mother. As always on these occasions, it takes a lot longer than planned, but it doesn't matter.

A priest led the prayers after which people were invited to say what they felt. A Rastafarian friend of the victim sung an amazing hymn on the spur of the moment, dedicated to his family, and then people, one after the other, voiced their love for this man.

In 2007, I'd been at this very place to photograph the crime scene. Tonight I couldn't see through my viewfinder as I was overcome by emotion, tears were going down my face. My thoughts go out with all of the people present.

*He will remain nameless out of respect and because of an ongoing trial, but for the record, we were the only media invited by the family and the only media present.

© Magnus Andersson

© Magnus Andersson

© Magnus Andersson

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