Visual Stories

A Glimpse Into The Global Movement: Black Lives Matter Protests Captured At Street Level

By EyeEm Team - 6 min read

Eight EyeEm photographers share with us a glimpse into the commendable action of individuals all over the globe as the #BlackLivesMatter movement continues the erupt the streets with the call for change.

Earlier this week we shared a list of resources that have been useful for us as a brand operating in the creative and corporate space. Yet, it’s the individuals of our creative community and their commitment to picking up their camera that helps us to play our part in sharing the stories that need to be told.

We acknowledge that what we are about to share is just a fraction of the stories being told around the world at this critical point in history. Our team will always do all we can to ensure that our platform remains a stage for visual stories that drive conversations and commentaries that matter most.

We want to thank photographers all around the world choosing to turn their lenses away from their everyday projects or tasks and onto the streets in solidarity of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Today, eight different photographers share their visual stories from protests in different parts of the world, along with their unfiltered, personal self-reflections.

If you have images of the actions and initiatives taken place in your local neighbourhood in support of the Black Lives Matter movement then upload your photos with the tag #BlackLivesMatter now.

Thiago Dezan, Washington DC

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

We, as a planet, as one, urgently need to learn how to listen better. And through listening, develop empathy. When I leave my house for these protests, I’m going out to learn, it doesn’t matter how many protests you’ve been before, or in how many places. I always want to understand something better, be it a context, a person, a group, a culture.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

From the first moment, I understood that making photos was not only to register or document passively something that was happening, but also an act of making a statement. Not only selecting a moment in time and space, but bending it as you wish to tell a story the way you want. This was the moment I understood that my role as a photographer, or as a storyteller, was driven by a personal will to be present, being in places, taking sides, and trying to find platforms for the voice of the people around me to be louder. So I don’t think much like ‘my photographs’ as a result of a task, but more like a process of making photos. I have to question myself how can I make this process fulfill my artistic needs, say the messages that I want to say, and at the same time represent the voices of the people being photographed.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

I try to talk to people before and while making work. I think this can allow you to see things from different perspectives and it will be easier to discover what to do or don’t. Also gather feedback, honest feedback. Don’t expect people to always like your work, but be respectful while doing it as that will save you from a lot of trouble.

Amir Hamja, NYC

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

I think it’s a very important time, and the current protests are unprecendented in US history. After years and years, racism and police brutality hasn’t stopped. It should be addressed not only in the US but also globally as I believe these protest against racism will create a wave around the world.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

Photographs have always been a powerful medium to inspire others. As a photographer my only tool to protest against any injustice or show solidarity is through my camera, not only do I want to document the historical moment, but also show the truth what’s going on the field.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

In situations like protest or crisis zones, I will always tell the truth and straight - what is happening at that moment. My job is to pass the message and resonate the moment exactly how it unfolded.

Josiah Kelevra, Hampton, Virginia

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

I truly feel that there is a veil over society’s eyes as if these protest are not important or called for. I want people to know what we’re fighting for and using our voices for, I want people to see how the police force is responding and treating us even when we are peaceful , I want them to understand that we’re not doing this without reason.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

I want to spread awareness and inspire those who have that fire in their belly. I feel like I have accomplished something if black people see what I have created and it makes them feel inspired to do what they as a creative. I know so many people see the world the way I do and I want them to document it, preserve it. We made history, all of us together.

Aiyush Pachnanda, London

GROUP OF PEOPLE IN FRONT OF BUILDINGS
REAR VIEW OF PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET
LOW ANGLE VIEW OF BUILDINGS AGAINST SKY IN CITY
GROUP OF PEOPLE IN FRONT OF BUILDING AGAINST SKY
LOW ANGLE VIEW OF INFORMATION SIGN BOARD AGAINST SKY
GROUP OF PEOPLE IN FRONT OF BUILDINGS IN CITY

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

In these uncertain times, we need photographers, videographers and journalists on the ground documenting real-life actions. Whether it’s a livestream or someone shooting on a phone we need people to show the world real-time what is happening. It can not only inform people in real-time but can also teach people.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

It’s the idea of documenting a movement. We are at a tipping point in history and being at the front of it documenting the scene feels very powerful; images and videos are changing the world.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

As a photojournalist, I want to be honest with my work. At the same time, I don’t want to show anyone in a bad light because as someone who feels strongly about the cause at hand there is inevitably to be presence of personal bias. In that case, I have to take a step back and choose to observe what’s going on, how my photos could potentially affect someone’s life, and how my images could inform and persuade other peoples thought processes.

Patrick Walsh, Los Angeles

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

Images are important and can impact change. It’s critical that we see the world we live in and not look away.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

I want to amplify the voices around me. I want to learn and share what I’ve learned.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

I become more aware of potential biases by not looking away, by observing and acknowledging. A good action is to practice kindness - kindness costs nothing.

Henri Calderon, London

HIGH ANGLE VIEW OF PEOPLE SITTING ON STAGE
GROUP OF PEOPLE STANDING AGAINST THE SKY
PEOPLE PHOTOGRAPHING
GROUP OF PEOPLE WALKING ON ROAD
MAN AND WOMAN PHOTOGRAPHING CAR
PEOPLE IN FRONT OF BUILDINGS IN CITY
PEOPLE STANDING ON STREET AGAINST SKY
GROUP OF PEOPLE IN FRONT OF BUILDINGS
GROUP OF PEOPLE ON THE STREET
GROUP OF PEOPLE PHOTOGRAPHING BUILDING

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

I think it’s important that the public realise how pertinent these issues are, and how many people care. The UK often views its race relations as ‘not as bad’ as the USA however, issues of race are far more insidious than individual acts of violence and prejudice, and I think people are starting to outwardly protest that on a much larger scale. In taking these pictures, perhaps people can look at them and reevaluate their views on race and actions that they can take for a fairer future.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

In doing these photos, I’ve been aiming to get my personal perspective on all of this. Through capturing angles not usually taken and also a lot closer into the action, it’s my hope that those who view these stills will see a more human side to these protests. A lot of coverage on the protests have been focused on acts of violence and unrest rather than the unity of protestors, and their side of the argument. In placing myself and my camera at street level, it’s my hope that audiences will take the time to challenge the prevailing media narratives and think for themselves.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

Bias is a constant issue in whatever you do. However, I was fortunate enough to study ‘race and class relations’ in the UK at university which gave me more sensitivity on the subject than I previously had. In photography this commitment to challenge bias comes in making extra effort to capture a representative scene on the ground, which is making a balanced assessment of a scene before you shoot. It’s asking yourself, ‘am I shooting the right thing here, am I representing what’s going on fairly?.’

If you have a range of races at a protest, capture that. If people are peacefully protesting, capture that. I think it’s important to be honest when you shoot, rather than looking for shots that may be incendiary but not exactly representative. The media and issues of race often have a terrible relationship, for example; the publishing of a picture of Mark Duggan that had been cropped to make him look threatening, when he was actually at his daughter’s grave. I think to be on the side of reality rather than stereotypical fantasy is critical to responsible stills with as little bias, and the most integrity, as possible

Andrew Soria, Los Angeles

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

What’s happening right now affects all of us. If we don’t pay attention, then we are willfully choosing ignorance and in doing so becoming part of the problem. Black Americans here and all over the world are screaming to be heard. We need to address the problem, no matter how uncomfortable the situation is.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

I want to document this moment in history through a lens of compassion. People are angry, and rightfully so, but we often see a skewed portrayal of just the anger and chaos. I wanted to show the other side, one of unity and love where protestors are seen standing together, clapping, laughing, and hugging one another.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

I believe thinking critically is the best way to combat inherent biases. It is difficult to learn the facts of complex situations. We can break down potential bias through actively educating each other. While media is helpful in providing general factual information, it is the voice of the people and the sharing of stories of injustice through social media that provide more complete understandings of what is truly happening.

Alfie White, London

Why do you feel that it’s critical for people to see what’s going on?

In terms of seeing what’s going on through my lens and work, I don’t feel that it’s critical. I wouldn’t offer my photos of the protests as some objective, complete documentation, but more as just my personal account as a supporter before anything else. To better answer the question though, I feel that it might be beneficial for people to see through my scope a more intimate insight into what’s going on. And hopefully, through my photos, catching a glimpse of the many emotions and reasons which fuel these protests, in contrast to the reductionist coverage they have generally received by the main media publications.

What are you trying to achieve with your photographs?

If I’m honest, right now? To just create a further incentive for people to donate money to the protests funds, as I’m offering darkroom handprints of my protests photos to those who donate $20. I haven’t considered the impact of the photos themselves yet, if there is or will be any.

How do you face or become more aware of potential bias? What actions do you take to avoid it?

Generally and politically speaking, I don’t avoid bias, beyond the potential of negative individual misrepresentation. My work is largely a reflection of myself and by extension, the things I’m passionate about, so I’m confident in my intentions to represent who I photograph fairly and within reason, contextually and generally. I disagree with any notion of ‘objective’ photography or photojournalism—by just deciding to be there, you’ve already taken a stance, and vice versa. In a climate like this especially, with one of the main sentiments being as simple as Black Lives Matter, what bias is there, really? You either agree, or you don’t. You’re either against racism and police brutality, or you’re not. Silence itself is a statement.

Our team is committed to sharing more work by black photographers across our channels through our #EyeEmSpotlight series. If you’re a professional photographer or you know other creatives that have a projects then send us and overview of your project to stories@eyeem.com

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