Warning – LONG post with WAY too many pictures.
If you’ve recently started following my blog you’ll probably be wondering why the URL is “StreetLifeEdinburgh” and the blog title is “Life, Edinburgh”.
It’s because when I started I primarily blogged about street photography and pretty much just that, but when my working pattern at the time rotated me out of the Edinburgh town centre I found myself being off the streets for around 6 months.
So I decided to rename it to just Life, Edinburgh and started documenting my burgeoning obsession with ‘vintage’ gear and processes.
Actual ‘standard’ street photography is still a rare thing for me as I’m permanently working outside the centre of Edinburgh so my pictures are quite different.
well, that was until a few months ago when I managed to get back into town and this is what I saw.
The ‘festival’, and I mean all of it, was in full swing that day but so was the SDL or ‘Scottish Defence League’.
It was chaos as always around that time of year. A massive influx of visitors means the streets are bulging and I think that most Edinburgh folk can’t stand it because it becomes unbearably busy and Edinburgh is actually a very small city with pretty small streets.
It’s when you go up the Royal Mile, aka ‘The High Street’, and see all those attention starved show off kids prancing about. It makes me worry about how I’m bringing up my own child.
That’s actually just a joke really. I quite enjoy seeing some of the performers doing their stupid stuff but it’s a magnet for the semi-serious semi-pro-tographer with their mega long lenses snapping loads of portraits of pretty young girls and a maybe couple of guys (probably not).
… loads of big DSLR camera guys …. absolutely loads.
The protest was a strange thing. I heard through Gareth from GreySkies there was going to be some sort of protest but I’d no idea against what or where. It turned out there was going to be an SDL/Anti-Nazi League shouting game.
Following a protest march is a weird experience, you could see bystanders looking noticeably shocked at the loud shouting and sloganeering. We met the Anti-Nazi’s but couldn’t find the Nazi’s.
The SDL are a strange bunch as they too sloganeer about their perception of the world but don’t actually like anyone other than their own community recording their ‘voice’. I recognised a few from a BNP march I saw within spitting distance of a fairly strong Asian community a few years ago.
We didn’t get anywhere near them thanks to the police and it was probably for the best. We did bump into a group of SDL guys a while after their ‘protest’ and a couple of us took a photo off a guy parading a flag of some kind singing songs. He asked me if I was part of some extremist alphabet group I’d never heard of but I said no and he was very displeased.
He wasn’t brave enough by himself to start anything so he walked away but I did something stupid, I followed him. As I, with the other two GreySkies members, their numbers grew and we were suddenly out-manned.
With this bravery-boost-in-numbers the SDL guys were able to be feel empowered and became aggressive and abusive.
We played it cool and walked away but they kept following us, yet telling us to “fuck off”, and threatening to ‘knock us the fuck out’ but it wasn’t particularly threatening to be honest. In fact it was actually quite comical, especially with the weird threat of ‘I’ll rip your faces off’.
They shouted at us to “go back to our Muslim whores” and that we were “lefty bastards”; not personally offensive at all.
They finally buggered off and it was all fine really. I did empathise and I understood their concerns.
Yes they have extreme views and although they march like every other kind of protester they are still seem to be trapped in a mentality that’s centred around violence as a positive. I was their enemy, they made a scene and that was all.
This bubble-lady was quite bizarre, she’s a street performer of sorts who creates amazing huge bubbles that sail beautifully through the air, I tried to photograph the massive bubble and get her head/shoulders in for context but she didn’t like it.
She immediately shouted “hey, let me see that photo!” or something like that. I apologised and said I can’t as it’s a film camera and I showed her the back of the camera then accidentally fired off the last shot down my arm! She conceded and said it was fine.
I told her I wanted to get a shot of the bubble over her head and she said “yeah, right” in a rather unpleasant way which was odd because seconds before and after this ‘discussion’ I witnessed a number of guys repeatedly photographing her and her bubbles unchallenged. It felt like she was accusing me of being a pervert.
I don’t normally have negative experiences photographing in Edinburgh but this was a weird one.
Bloody flash cord!
The Anti-Nazi guys were against the Israel state but were accompanied by Jews. They also shouted out support for the people affected from the Ferguson shooting.
Well, that’s it, that’s all the ‘street’ I’ve been up to over the past 3 months.
It’s been a long post but I’ve no idea when I’ll be in another generic ‘street photography’ situation. Although unlikely, hopefully I can come up with something new for next time, so until then …