Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's March on Washington

The day after the inauguration of Trump, there was a rally in Washington DC - the Women's March on Washington.

Normally I take photos of nature, animals, and occasionally friends and family. But I have lived near Washington DC for almost 20 years, and I have never photographed any significant or historic events in the area.

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

Recently I have been open to trying new things, as I did with my trip a couple weeks ago to Jackson Wyoming.  Attending a crowded rally in DC, planning for the logistics of shooting there and the uncontrolled/unknowable aspects of being on foot during such a busy time has in the past made me decide to do other things.  But not this time.

So I got up at around 5am, and made to a parking area off Ohio drive behind the Jefferson Memorial around 6:15am and then waited.  I was unsure what to expect even with this small aspect of the day, where and when to park.  But when I got there the lot was nearly empty, heck it was an hour before sunrise - nothing new with regards to planning and traveling for wildlife and sunrise - but the lot could have been closed, the road access could have been closed or diverted, a ton of things could have made this first step a problem  But luckily it worked out.

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

I got to the lot and then rested a bit, and was reassured by this first step working out.  Then I walked to the Jefferson, and was the only one there - an odd and eerie thing.  The capital would be over run with people in the hours to come but this was the calm before the so called storm.  I tried to use the facilities there but they were accessible but closed for repairs.

As dawn approached I walked over towards the Washington Monument, it was foggy and damp out.  And there were a few others also getting a jump on the long day ahead (not pictured in this shot).

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

On Friday I called the park service to see about the march, routes, access and restrictions.  What I learned was that there would be restrictions and security for those inside the protected area (whatever that actually meant).  But that throughout the rest of Washington D.C. it would be just like any other day and there would not be blockades, or checkpoints, or heightened security.  So I took a backpack that was too large for the restricted areas never intending to go inside a restricted area.

As I got closer and the morning progressed, I realized that there would people everywhere and I would be able to see "the event" from all over the place.  I walked down the Mall and then south on 4th street (I think).

During the entire day I took about 2,700 photos, and walked 10 miles.

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

For the most part I managed to remain on the edges of the crowds and assembling marchers.  However a few times I had to "retreat" to get to less crowded areas.  One time a couple of guys took the baracades along 7th street and made an opening so that the people in the street could easily move to the sidewalks and grassy areas.  Most people continued to move towards the Rally area, but within a short time the area was nearly packed with those that didn't want to move closer and wanted a spot to rest.

Another time at roughly 7th and Independence I stopped to shoot the crowd from in front of a jumbo-tron type display.  There was space in front of the display because the angle from right in front of it was too oblique to be able to see the screen.  However even that spot filled in as more people moved in to the area and gathered.  I managed to shoot a handful of images facing the crowd from this spot and it worked well.  I also got up a couple feet by standing on something to get a better angle on the crowd - though it was an awkward spot and eventually after I had move off a person asked those nearby not to stand there (on it) anymore.

And later when the intersection of Independence and 15th street was in the preparing stages of the actual march proper, I managed to I guess look like a press photographer and stayed IN the intersection along with organizers, police and actual press photographers.  I took the time to shoot photos and talked to everyone there. It felt like one of those act like you belong moments and it worked out.  Everyone was friendly and I even chatted it up a bit with a particular press photographer from New York city.  He seemed like a seasoned veteran of the trade and was nice and had some interesting quips about the day that I appreciated - such as some background on the "American flag hijab" thing, which he said started in NYC.

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

This type of photography is new to me, and I have been trying to find a way to show meaningful moments from the day.  I realize that I could post photos from throughout the day and that various messages marchers had would be seen via their signs and actions, and the images would invoke various responses.  I don't usually try to express my own political leanings through my photography, and I am mindful of which images I choose to share.

With that, here are a couple of images that are a start to my selecting and sharing meaningful images:

Grandma @ Women's March in Washington DC.

WMW 2017

With that, I will add images to this post as I process and share more images.

update 1 - 2 new images

I took a lot of portraits of those at the rally, there were some really interesting looking people.  I used to setups while at the rally, D500 w/ 70-200mm f/2.8 and D810 w/ 17-35mm f/2.8 (I swapped lenses between those 2 bodies a couple times).

Faces in the Crowd @ Women's March on Washington

Portrait @ Women's March on Washington

update 2 - A couple more photos...

@Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington

Update 3
Two more images from the march, there was a genuine positive attitude at the march.  People were excited to express themselves and to get their message out there.  Everyone wanted to be seen and to have their voices heard.