There was a day not too long ago (May 11, but the days feel like years here) in which I felt like a full fledged journalist for the first time. All it took was around seven different groups of anarchists, communists and soap makers, a stray dog and an amazing group of talented journalists beside me.
To make most of that clearer, here is the not-so-brief retelling of how I went on my first photo assignment that turned into my first full-fledged reporting piece.
Originally, I had volunteered to accompany my friends and fellow reporters, David and Bradley, on their first reporting assignment. The idea was to cover protest culture and in Greece there are apparently daily protests. Thinking I would just be standing on the sidelines and taking a few pictures when/if we stumbled across a rally, I packed my camera and a notebook for work and then a book to read in the down time I assumed I had.
We eventually found a protest at 6 p.m. at the Arch of Galerius in the city and from there, my story gets wild.
In the city square, I was expecting to find a few dozen people to be holding protest signs and possibly a black-inflatable tube @DivestNU. We decided to be punctual and showed up at 5:59 for the 6:00 show, but we were surprisingly early, as only a few signs (like the one above) were taped up and not a lot of people were there.
Slowly, the area began to fill with people, each horde of around 20 carrying a different red, black and white sign. (What’s black and white and red/read all over? A group of Greek anarchists.)
Back in the states, anarchists and communists are viewed with a certain distaste, being associated with chaos and wrongdoings. And so I walked up to them and started chatting. We met some amazing people, and most of them were willing to talk, some sans a first name and even one with a pseudonym (and who also threw me shade, I’m not upset, it’s fine, whatever).
My favorite anarchist of the bunch is pictured below. Amidst the first part of the gathering, this pup was fast asleep on the ground in the dead center of the square. Little did we know, the dog picked his nap spot to be right in the middle of the action on purpose, as we later found out that even the strays in Greece are politically active.
After the weirdest gathering of anarchists, communists, anti-capitalists and a cool couple of German tourists petered out, they took to the streets and as journalists do, we followed…or at least we all tried to.
I had never photographed a protest before, as most of my main photo concerns are usually figuring out stage lighting and not getting sweat on by up-close performers at shows. Shooting a march was a whole other animal, but luckily I had my faithful animal right beside me the whole time. As I ran at full speed, camera bag swinging and probably looking ridiculous (thoughts David/Cody?) the dog followed us as I weaved in and out down the street and even crossed in front of the march at some points.
After walking what felt like the entire world, but most likely the length of the city, we made it to the end. The end being a weird and frankly ironic benefit concert type gathering. The anarchists formed a line to get in and the anti-capitalists reached into their wallets for the three euro admittance charge. Felling strange about going in, both the journalists and the stray took that as our cue to leave. That and the presence of riot police, but only as a courtesy to them (can’t scare me in Greece, po po, I’ll call Rebecca Fong.)
In all seriousness, being able to talk to anyone and everyone with the confidence of a real journalist was one of the biggest takeaways for me. I know I usually joke that I am “just a little freshie” and can be hard on myself, but in this moment, I jumped in and was reporting with the best of ’em. Behind the camera or out with my reporter’s notebook, I think I’ve found something worth doing that in turn makes me feel worth it too.
RIP Doggo. He didn’t die, I just miss him.