Remembrance Sunday Photography 2020 in the Oxford Mail Newspaper
Remembrance Sunday Photography 2020
This Sunday past was ‘Remembrance Sunday‘ and with the Covid-19 pandemic there were intentionally no official ceremonies or meetings.
On the morning we decided to visit Oxford’s war memorial to pay our respects and discovered that we weren’t the only ones who had the same idea. There were a select few dignitaries and some members of the public gathering for 11am.
The bugle player at Oxford War Memorial
Precisely on time the Bugle player sounded the Last Post and we all stood for the 2 minutes silence, even cars driving through Oxford pulled over, after which wreaths were laid on the memorial itself and families planted crosses in front. The ceremony was naturally shorter than usual with fewer people but in no way reduced in its poignancy and meaning.
Remembrance Sunday photography of veterans
For the first time too, there were no barriers or large crowds, so we could approach the veterans for a portrait, and chat afterwards, in a much more informal way than previous ceremonies.
The stories of their times during various conflicts were as moving as they were extraordinary. Several bystanders had tales to tell too, one larger than life biker character described how his parents had met on Sword Beach on D-Day (his mother a nurse, and father a soldier). The biker still had his father’s slightly beaten up hip flask, filled suitably with Navy Rum, to toast his memory after the service.
Cameras and lenses for the photography
Photography of these type of events and PR is not always easy, a shorter focal length is preferable to a long zoom lens, contrary to what you’d imagine. A photographer with a large zoom lens can appear as a snooper, voyeur or paparazzi with generally negative connotations, whereas a small lens and camera that has to be close to get a good portrait is more honest in its approach. It’s obvious what you are doing and you are not hiding it – just ask permission (very rarely denied) and take a close up. The image itself is usually much stronger anyway with the direct approach and with the subjects’ direct gaze straight at the lens, there is the bonus too that you have the opportunity to hear a story and get to know someone new.
I used a 50mm Leica Summilux on my beaten-up older Leica M240 rangefinder body, again less ‘in your face’ than a large noisy SLR camera. I photographed the scene before the service, wider shots of the public, portraits that show the mood and process of a Remembrance Day service, making sure members of the public with a story were photographed.
Overview of 2020 ceremony during Lockdown 2.0
To hear the stories, observe the silence and take part in Remembrance Sunday made it a special morning. I dare say it will be all back to ‘normal’ next year, a wider more public service, many more people but without the intimacy that marked the 2020 service special.
The Oxford Mail local newspaper ran Piranha’s photographs on their website and printed newspaper.
2019 Coverage of Poppy collecting in City of London
In 2019 and for many years before I have photographed at TPICAP’s offices in the centre of London, where service men volunteer to spend a few hours in a day collecting for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy appeal.
In times gone by there were a mix of celebrities like in 2009. This encouraged staff to dig a little deeper in their wallets, but that isn’t always necessary. In recent years currently serving members of the armed forces have taken up the challenge of pacing the floors, they have a more direct and relevant appeal to collect for fallen comrades. Helpful too in that they can come right up to your desk and rattle the tin, they cleverly encourage the staff to use a touch credit card device that has fixed (generous) amounts, meaning that the sums raised grow every year. Everyone gives generously and the atmosphere is always convivial.
We thought we would share with you a few photographs taken over the last couple of years below –
Press article in The Oxford Times featuring Remembrance Sunday Photography by Piranha
- Store Photography – Primark in Birmingham Reopening Post Lockdowns - May 5, 2021
- Website Photography for Fertility Clinic in Wimpole Street, London - April 7, 2021
- Lockdown Photography Project – Oxford Bridge - April 7, 2021
To hear the stories, observe the silence and take part in Remembrance Sunday made it a special morning - Douglas, Photographer