Updated: Jan 20, 2020
My experience photographing the marchers and their opposing forces along the mile-long route towards LA's City Hall.
The morning of Saturday, January 18, 2020 started like any other morning... I woke up to the sound of my alarm (titled Birdsong, which I selected in order to drown out the sound of traffic outside of my apartment building), checked my cellphone's notifications, briefly scrolled through my social media apps to see if anything either catastrophic or intriguing occurred while I slept, etc., etc. Then, I went to the bathroom and began to get to ready. This morning was a bit different though. I felt a bit of nervousness but excitement at the thought of attending my first Women's March. I'd been eager to attend ever since the first organized march on Washington D.C. occurred during the turmoil of 2017. But, with Washington D.C. a bit out of my reach, I figured this year's Sister March in Los Angeles would be the next best thing.
I had already prepped my camera bag the night before... charging my Canon EOS M3 and Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II batteries, formatting their memory cards, packing my telephoto lens and GoPro just in case, gloves, chapstick, oh, and plenty of fuel. Fuel for the body, that is: snacks and water.
After reading the guides on the Women's March website, I figured the Metro would be the best, hassle-free way to get there and back. Since I hadn't rode the Metro in a while, I had to dig out my Metro cards and ended up unearthing four that I'd accumulated over the past three years of forgetting to bring any of them with me when I used to ride. After loading a day pass for $7 onto one of the cards, I hopped on the next Metro towards Pershing Square.
Upon arriving at my desired Metro Station, I got my first glimpse of women dressed for the occasion in their pink beanies and Women's March t-shirts. I opted for my 2018 International Women's Day t-shirt with the quote "Yes She Can" stamped on the front and a pastel pink button-up shirt worn unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up. As these ladies and I snaked up the escalator and stairs, emerging from the underground into daylight, we played follow-the-leader and joined the foot-traffic on the sidewalk that was heading towards the march's beginning rally point.
The closer we got, the louder the cheering and sound of the speakers echoing became. The anticipation was rising in me as I turned the final corner and saw a crowd of mixed sexes, races, and ages. Some with signs and some even dressed in costumes of influential and powerful figures: Eve from the garden, Captain America, Susan B. Anthony, etc. I wasn't sure what to photograph first.
After surveying the sights in front of me, I reminded myself that the photographs I wanted to take should capture the essence of what the event was. Therefore, I positioned myself in front of the main banner and awaited the start of the march...
As I was standing, waiting, I noticed that there was a rising amount of photographers that began to show up and I had decided to turn my lens towards them. Behold, a group of photographers (five shown) doing what I was there to do myself: capture the moment...
I knew that I needed to challenge myself and use the resources and environment around me to take the best and most meaningful pictures that I could possibly take. So, I looked towards the mural positioned directly above the participants marching for indigenous people's rights (the section of people located at the far-right of the image) and used the child's face to my advantage...
I'm not going to state what the interpretation of this photo should be because I believe that a photo is meant to be interpreted by the viewer themselves. However, I will state what my interpretation of this photo is... the child in the mural seems to be looking ahead, into the future perhaps, possibly at the crowd of hundreds and thousands of participants marching and, one day, he/she is going to have to decide whether to march with them, or against them. The women and men at the bottom of the image are setting an example for standing up for their beliefs. Hopefully, the child in the mural will one day do the same.
Speaking of children, there were several moments where I noticed parents leading as examples and I felt the need to capture it...
A mother with her daughters.
A father with his daughters.
Once the march began, the mile-long route seemed to pass by in a flash. Along the way, chants were shouted, songs were sung, signs were held, and there was certainly no stopping this women-led wave as it flooded the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. The wave finally came to a halt at the City Hall building where a stage had been built, outdoor booths ready to educate the public about voting rights, equal housing, etc. were set-up, and a giant, inflated, baby in a diaper balloon (resembling Donald Trump) was floating in the air above the crowd that was now seeping into the open space.
The speakers at the end rally point spoke of politics, abortion, racism, inclusion, etc. and their speeches were met with applause, sign-waving, and cheering. These were some signs that had caught my eye...
Referencing The Powerpuff Girls (1998).
Referencing a mix of powerful women from the media and/or entertainment industry.
People not only brought signs in support of their voices, but they also chose to express their voices through their clothing. These were some fashion statements that caught my eye...
Girl Power Socks. (Purchase Here)
Wonder Woman Cape. (Available at Six Flags Theme Parks)
There's always at least two opinions/sides on any given topic/issue and on this morning, there was a group of people who were using their religious beliefs in order to spread their pro-life and "repent your sins" message. With their fairly large signs displaying religiously charged statements including words such as, "Jesus Christ," "Sinners," "Repent," etc. their presence was noticeably seen. But, they were only seen after they were heard since they had headsets and speakers of their own in order to compete with the event's speakers. One man from their group decided to walk through the crowd that was congregated near the stage with his black and white sign, headset, and speaker, proclaiming his beliefs every step of the way. As you can imagine, his abrupt presence was not welcomed by anyone in the vicinity. Many people attempted to face him head-on by shouting their own beliefs back at him, whereas, the majority of other people in the crowd, located behind him, began to chant, "Lower your sign! Lower your sign! Lower your sign!" since he was blocking their view. A courageous couple (man and wife) who were standing right beside me, decided to take action and borrowed the largest signs in the area and attempted to block his sign with feminist and pro-human rights signs of their own...
The woman holding the pro-women's march sign was one of the first to take action in covering his sign.
A facial view of the woman holding the sign. Standing between a woman wearing a beret and a woman wearing a white hat.
To their action, the crowed cheered in support. A small victory in the face of opposition.
Surprisingly, this man still stood unwavered by these attempts to "shut him down." After the crowd's attempt to coerce him out of the area by chanting, "Move! Move! Move! Move!" he began to shove his body into the backs of several women in response. This provoked a young woman, who looked to be in her twenties, to take action and use her body to push him all the way back through the crowd, back to where he came from. Following her, were several other women with locked arms, helping her push. Interestingly, her choice to use her body instead of her hands allows for the following statements to be made: she didn't lay a hand on him and she, literally, hip-checked him across the crowd. On her journey back through the crowd, she was greeted with high-fives, cheers, and thumbs ups. Where there's a will, there's a way.
(I didn't see or hear from him again for the rest of the time that I was standing in the crowd.)
As the speakers on stage continued their rotations and 1:30 p.m. was approaching, I decided that I had probably experienced enough excitement for the day and began to head out of the crowd, towards the Metro station that I had arrived at earlier in the day. There was a pretty constant flow of people on the sidewalk that were either leaving or arriving to the end rally point. Interestingly enough, the walk back to the beginning rally point seemed to take a lot longer than the march towards the end rally point that we had been on only a couple of hour earlier. Normally, it's the drive/ride/walk back or away from a location that goes by quicker, but, I suppose that since the excitement had worn off and the fact that I had been on my feet for the past four hours at that point, had altered my perception of distance and time.
After arriving at the station, getting onto the Metro, and arriving back at my apartment, I imported my images and clips from the day, edited them the way I saw fit for each image, and took a nice long nap. My experience from my first Woman's March in Los Angeles (2020) provided me with an interesting outlook on how people express their beliefs, how far people are willing to go in order to have their voices be heard, and how I should continue learning to roll with the punches (figuratively) when capturing moments during events like this where intensity can spike and random things can occur unexpectedly.
If interested, I made individual posts on my Instagram Account about the Women's March:
I'll also be uploading a Visualizer for the event onto my YouTube channel:
Also, here's a photo of a pigeon taking a bath in a puddle outside of Pershing Square...