Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy LA

Although this is not a news blog, it's pretty hard to ignore it when something in your neighborhood becomes a national news item. The Occupy Wall Street movement is today's "big news" and has its counterpart here in Los Angeles at City Hall, just a few blocks from my apartment, so the other day I headed on over to to see what I would see.

As a former photojournalist, I am acutely aware of the use of photography as propaganda, but at the same time I'm aware that even such masters of the photographic essay as W. Eugene Smith struggled to "tell a story" through photographs. In a certain sense this campout on the City Hall lawn is what is called in the news biz "spot news";  for better or worse, it's treated as a kind of curiosity, akin to the cat stuck in a tree or a visitation from some traveling carnival, and not really a story as such. With no published agenda, it's fair to say that it can be perceived as somewhat incoherent.

As is the case at such events, the place was crawling with sightseers: people wielding cameras, from point-and-shoot pocket cameras to iPhones to some actual working news photographers wielding their Big Guns, everyone happily snapping away. But to what end - tourism or history - I can't say.

My years of chasing news lead me to conclude that there is rarely a photographic set of starting blocs for any given historical event and photojournalists are almost always late arrivals in any case. Sure enough, I arrived on Day 19. This on-going event has no particular end in sight or police confrontations scheduled, so I took my default fallback position and attempted to take a picture - any picture - that would cohere the incoherence, some sort of "framing of the narrative" of the proceedings thus far. Or at the very least, some modest proof that I was there when history was being made.

Image details: Nikon D1x w/Nikkor 18-55 f3.5 DX AF