Be Prepared Before You Go Photograph the Protests

Woman shouts Black lives matter in Atlanta protest as they sit in the middle of a major intersection. Circa 2016

Scroll to read

Protests are happening all over the United States, standing up against police brutality, systematic racism, and standing up for Black people that have endured it for centuries. As the days of protesting on the streets add up the world has joined us. This moment in time must be documented. Before you head out make sure you prepare as best as possible.

You have the right to take photos and record videos in a public space and that includes the police but also know your rights as a protester. After all, you are headed to a protest.

If it’s a planned protest that has a route, know that route. Make sure you also plan your exit and have several in mind.

What to Take?

Comfortable clothing and sneakers – Also pack an extra shirt you can change into or wear over your existing shirt should you need to.

Backpack – Not for your camera but for everything else.

Keep your camera gear light – Decide to shoot long like a 70-200mm or wide like a 17-40mm. A wide lens will require you are very close and deep in the action. A long lens will let you shoot at a slight distance.

Memory cards – Always carry extra cards and I suggest you load at least a 128 GB card to start with. You want to avoid having to change out your card in the middle of a protest.

Power bank To keep your phone charged.

Power Cable – Rapid charge your phone with a 3-in-1 power cable or let someone in need connect to it.

Phone – Keep in mind protests are surveilled heavily and you may be tracked. If that concerns you, a burner phone is an option. If you do take your phone there are some things you may want to do. FC has an article with some tips.

Mask or some kind of face-covering – We are still in a pandemic.

Hand sanitizer – Again… pandemic.

Water – Start hydrating the day before. It can also be used to flush your eyes if you get tear-gassed.

Snacks – Some kind of energy snacks like protein bars. You could be out there for a while.

Hat / Sunglasses – It’s protection from the sun and can help shield you from a variety of things, in addition to providing you some privacy should you want or need it.

ID – Perhaps. If you are detained and don’t have an ID, you could possibly be held longer until they verify your identity.

A friend – Go with a friend if you can. If not, at least let someone know where you are going.

Emergency contact – This person should know where you are headed to and willing to pick you up should you find yourself stranded or in a situation you need to get out of. Also, someone that can help with bail money if needed. Write your emergency contact number on your arm with a permanent marker in case your phone gets lost, stolen, or taken by police.

Cash – You never know what you may need it for.

Small first aid kit – It’s been documented that volunteer medic help have themselves found themselves under attack, so you may be your only resource at the moment if you get wounded.

Atlanta protesters sit in the middle of the road. Circa 2016

Use public transit or rideshare – Many cities have been known to tow cars during protests.

You don’t have to search deep to read about folks being harassed, beat-up, or locked up by police for documenting. Even journalists are experiencing it. So, please be cautious and aware of your surroundings while you are out there capturing the stories that need to be told.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: