Public squares, airports, football stadiums, the halls of Congress. In 2017, they’re all just places to protest.
This year, demonstrations erupted in US airports in response to a ban on travelers from majority Muslim countries, and football players knelt in impromptu protest of racial inequality at games. Massive anti-government rallies filled avenues in Caracas and Barcelona, and women walked anatomical iconography through Washington, DC.
How do photographers document the magnitude of such mass protests, while also showing the emotion that inspires individuals to take to the street? It’s not enough to just document an event, says Pancho Bernasconi, editorial chief at Getty Images. Photographers need “a sense of empathy, visually” to show the dynamic underlying collective action.
“You don’t just want a photograph that is visual evidence that the photographer was there,” he explains “The best photographs have layers. Are there multiple people you can see, and feel their emotions?”
While some images of the past year’s protests stunned through sheer scale (the Women’s March in DC dwarfing Donald Trump’s inauguration), intimate close-ups proved more indelible than crowd shots this year. (Take, for example, the viral photo of two children of different faiths, protesting side-by-side at an airport with their fathers.)
The pictures below show the enduring power of collective demonstration in a particularly fractious moment. As media, community and entertainment are increasingly digitized, a real-life gathering of people can feel genuinely revolutionary. While 100,000 retweets and a digital petition might be easy to ignore, a mass of bodies is undeniable.