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Emma S. Mackinnon ’05 grabbed a no-name disposable camera as she left Harvard for New York City last Saturday. Matthew A. Hartzell ’05 packed a digital camera that he takes almost everywhere.
Several hours and many shutter-clicks later, these two had compiled photographic accounts of their experiences at last Saturday’s massive anti-war protest in New York City.
For Hartzell, who takes pictures around campus and on trips to upload to his Web site, “the protest was just one more ‘photo-essay’ among many,” a means of keeping friends and family up-to-date. But this time, he says, his focus was more political than personal. He used his camera to express his feelings on the possibility of war with Iraq.
“I try to paint the anti-war cause in a positive light when I take pictures,” he says.
The photos on his Web site range from wide-angle crowd shots to a close-up of a life-size Elmo holding a sign mocking President George Bush. One memorable photo shows a simple “No War in Iraq” placard in front of Grand Central Station. Others show a police officer in riot gear blocking crowds and riding on horseback.
Other images document what Hartzell says was poor treatment of protesters by the police.
“Whenever I saw police doing something I didn’t think was right, I took pictures,” Hartzell says. “Someone warned me that police have been known to take cameras away from people who do that, but I guess I was lucky.”
One caption on the Web site for a photo of police on horseback reads, “They also used the horses for violence.”
Hartzell says he took some planned shots, but most pictures were designed as candid in-the-moment snapshots.
“Sometimes I would simply raise my camera in the air and take pictures without knowing what they would look like, because that was the only way to see above the crowd,” he says.
Hartzell says he wishes his camera could convey the size of crowds which some say numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
“I would have really loved to portray how many people were really there, but to do so was impossible, because the protest was so spread out on the different avenues and streets,” he says. “I just have to assume that there were dozens more intersections just like the crowded one I found myself stuck in.”
While Hartzell planned to upload his pictures to the Internet, Mackinnon, who is also a Crimson editor, originally brought her camera to take pictures for her own collection.
Her camera documented an arrest in Times Square, police barricades and horses herding crowds. But she says she found crowd shots difficult to take properly, “particularly when you’re short,” she jokes.
A Brooklyn resident, Mackinnon said that the protest made her view her native city with a new perspective.
“I’m used to seeing it as city full of cars and commerce,” she says. “Seeing everyone who is usually up in the buildings in the streets was really powerful.”
Mackinnon says she hopes her photos convey what a protest is like to those who have never been at one.
“I tried writing about it at first, but a lot of it was visual imagery that nothing else could capture,” she says. “I wanted to show the perspective not as news camera from above but as an individual among 400,000.”
—Staff writer Kristi L. Jobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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