Photographers' Blog

Occupy Happy Birthday

By Lucas Jackson

It has been one year since a group of protesters began sleeping on the ground in Zuccotti Park to protest growing income inequality, corporate influence on politics, climate change, and a number of other issues.

SLIDESHOW: RETURN OF OCCUPY

One year ago no-one had heard of Occupy Wall St. and it was fascinating to watch the excitement and size of the protest grow over time. What began as a rag tag group of people who came together to make a semi-permanent presence near Wall St. to spread their message in the heart of the New York financial district quickly grew. For those of us who live and work in New York it was a refreshing change to have a news story grow organically in a city where everything is always polished and shined to dullness in order to present to the media.

For the first time since living here there was a story that allowed you in to cover not only the unplanned demonstrations and actions but also the participants as they sat in Zuccotti dreaming and planning the direction of this movement. Most of the time demonstrators have to pre-approve everything they did with the NYPD and the city but Occupy was refreshingly obstinate in not pre-approving anything and took advantage of their constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate their displeasure with the direction of the country.

Ironically, throughout the movement it has been the police who are giving the movement it’s biggest boost on the national stage. First when a video captured an NYPD commander named Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying a number of protesters, followed by the NYPD arresting hundreds of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, and police in Oakland injuring an Iraqi veteran with a pepper spray canister.

Combined with their fight against income inequality and the link between money and politics the movement hit a chord as the story began to circulate through the media. The perception that banks and the people associated with them had swindled the public in the form of massive bailouts galvanized a large number of people, quickly spawning mirroring Occupy encampments in Washington D.C., Denver, Oakland, Los Angeles, and dozens of other cities. For those of us covering the growing demonstrations it seemed like a movement that would only grow especially as it began to turn the national discussion at the time to talk of the 99% and the concentration of income and wealth held by 1% of the population.

A voice of Occupy Wall Street

By Andrew Burton

When the Occupy Wall Street movement began their Spring Training sessions earlier this year, I realized I had focused much of my coverage throughout the fall of 2011 on the most sensationalistic events – large marches, mass arrests and sporadic violence. It dawned on me that I had seen very little photojournalistic work, from myself or other photographers, looking at Occupy Wall Street’s more mundane or personal aspects – essentially, who the protesters were beyond the demonstrations.

SLIDESHOW: LIFE OF AN OCCUPY ACTIVIST

I decided to approach Austin Guest to see if he’d be interested in allowing me to follow him as an individual. Guest is an organizer, videographer and creative-action planner in the movement. I had seen him lead marches, moderate group conversations and give speeches – in essence, I had been impressed at his ability to speak to groups and lead large rallies. Austin was open to the idea and over the past month I’ve tried to spend as much time with him as possible – before, during and after events, with friends, at the bar, eating dinner, shopping for supplies and training for future events.

What I found in Guest was a fascinating character – a Harvard-educated man who had been living in Brooklyn for the past seven years, working with Align, a community based organization focused on housing for low-income communities. Guest, who worked two blocks south of Zuccotti Park, was initially skeptical of the movement, but by mid-October, 2011, had been won over. He says a key moment was October 1, 2011 – a day in which over 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. On that day, Guest was on the pedestrian level of the bridge, watching hundreds of protesters getting arrested on the vehicle-level below him. He found himself simultaneously mic-checking the group (leading a conversation) about what the protesters should do, and filming the arrests. Later that day, he went and logged the footage for Occupy’s media team.

Chaos descends on Occupy Oakland

By Stephen Lam

It all started like a normal day covering Occupy Oakland. But little did I know it was going to be one of the most intense protests I’ve ever covered.

I arrived at Oakland City Hall around 1pm and there was already a sizable crowd gathered in preparation for the march. I was a bit surprised to see people carrying shields, but I didn’t think much of it and proceeded to photograph the protest as I normally would.

The march began as the group announced that they were headed towards their sound truck which was supposedly pulled over by the police. Sensing a bit of tension, I instinctively went back to the car to grab my gas mask and helmet.

Occupying Starbucks

By Paul Hackett

I left the Occupy protest camp at St Paul’s cathedral in London to go to Starbucks to file the pictures that I had taken. As I walked through the door I saw this man sitting there; of course it made me smile. I took a few images of him and then a member of staff put their hand over my lens. I knew that I had something, so it was fine. I sat close to him, got his name (Adam Murray) and sent the picture in. It was with the office a few minutes after I took it – I wish they were all that easy!