Occupy Miami Rally
November 17, 2011
November 17, 2011
I went to the Nov. 17 Occupy Miami rally and march looking for faces, and I found one face everywhere: Guy Fawkes, the “V for Vendetta” mask that has become a symbol of the 99% protests, was reproduced in several forms.
Some wore the pointed, smiling mask tipped back on their heads, leaving their own faces visible beneath it. The grin was also printed on cardboard with “We are the 99%” printed above its eyes in English and Spanish. One protester even had the image on the back of his smartphone, so it was visible every time he raised the device to take a picture.
I was interested in how the pointy, squinting shape of the Guy Fawkes mask played off the protesters’ real faces, and I wanted to see the protesters used the same image to make unique statements. For each protester that obscured his face with a mask, another stared boldly at the authorities and media around them as if to say that he, and not the image of a 17th century Englishman, was making a statement.
Apart from the mask, I focused on individual faces in the crowd of protesters, and in the groups of people who watched them march on Miami’s financial district. Two McDonald’s workers caught my eye as the march continued from Little Havana to Miami’s financial district. The pair huddled together in the drive-through window, and the man appeared interested and excited about the protest passing by. The woman frowned deeply, and the exaggerated expression was the upside-down version of the Guy Fawke mask’s broad smile.
I had a few problems to solve as I looked for faces in the crowd. To start with, I was using a new lens with a different depth of field than the 50mm wide-open lens I normally use. I worked on keeping my backgrounds clean so that each face stood out, but still appeared in the context of a a protest and not as a pedestrian in the street.