The year began with the fantastic Mass Gathering, where thousand of photographers descended on Trafalgar Square to demonstrate their opposition to the targeting of photographers under s44 of the anti terrorism powers. Branch members have been key to the success of the I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign. January also saw the launch of the London Photographers’ Branch (LPB) with branch officers and committee elected.
In February we launched our branch website and had our first meeting, a panel discussion on The Future of Photography with Martin Argles, John Harris and Kelvin Bruce.
A team of us made and delivered mini PHNAT placards to every MP ahead of the Hostile Reconnaissance pre election Rally at Friends Meeting House. A high profile platform of lawyers, authors and campaigners discussed civil rights and press freedom. We also commissioned and showed a video by Jason Parkinson to document the campaign which has been seen in colleges, trades Councils and recently the Houses of Parliament.
The Chair and Jonathan Warren were invited to speak at Belfast Exposed. Following an excellent talk by Stuart Freedman,Trying to tell the story? Ethics and Photojournalism we set up an Ethics Sub-Committee to revise the NUJ Code of Conduct in relation to visual journalism. We also affiliated to the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and organised around the Guardian cuts in picture rates.
We discussed the Future of Copyright in April, with branch members Andrew Wiard, Guy Smallman, Freelance Organiser John Toner and celebrated the defeat of Clause 43 of the Digital Economy Bill. LPB Members were also central to campaigning around this.
In May members Andrew Wiard, David Hoffman and John Harris spoke at the National Photography Symposium in Derby.
June we had our First Aid Course, NUJ Regional Press Awards with the Chair and Andrew Wiard as judges. We also had a very informative meeting Convergence – Should we adapt and how? A panel discussion with photographer Edmond Terakopian and film editor Simon Ruben. Jason Parkinson and Marc Vallee won their legal case against Met Police for an incident at the Greek Embassy.
In July we organised a Victory Flash Mob outside New Scotland Yard after the suspension of the use of s44 following the successful campaign work and legal cases brought against the police including NUJ members in the European Court of Human Rights.
Party Conference season saw the threat of a photographer walkout (again), the Labour Party press office backed down from their plan to limit photographer numbers and select who they wanted to cover the leaders speech. The Branch Secretary also attended the Met police operational briefing for the Papal visit. We also had a victory in the James MacKay case a member who had his images deleted by the transport police.
We had a very intense month of campaigning in October with a fantastic branch meeting on the Future Of Street Photography with work from Grant Smith and Andrew Testa. Lawyers, Chez Cotton and Anna Mazzola, who have successfully represented many branch members were part of the debate alongside General Secretary Jeremy Dear.
The branch was also involved in the parliamentary meeting, Who’s afraid of photographers? – A seminar exploring society’s suspicions of cameras, with Jason N. Parkinson’s Hostile Reconnaissance film featuring in a session chaired by the LPB chair and David Hoffman giving a well received talk.
We also worked on a briefing for MP’s on the terrorism laws, as requested by the NUJ cross-party group of MP’s.
November the Chair and Branch Secretary gave a talk to photographers in Dublin. We had a great panel discussion on International Affairs, helpful tips and issues when shooting abroad, raising solidarity with photographers in the Palestine and the Philippines. The branch also setup a working group to discuss establishing or re-establishing NUJ agreements with national newspapers and news organisations for picture/video rates and commissions. We also had a report from a member involved in the successful collective action against the Tate Britain contract. After negotiations Jeremy Dear has agreed with LPB’s proposal to increase the budget (ring-fenced) for photography and web, a real success.
December saw a victory and large payout for David Hoffman in a case against the police for his assault at the G20. The Chair also had a very usefully timed response from the IPCC in her complaint about being stopped under s44 covering a traveller wedding.
Throughout the year we have represented and supported members under threat from the English Defence League. We have also helped members go through redundancy, claim compensation and raise complaints about the conduct of police officers and security guards. We have vigorously defended the UK Press Card and journalistic material, helped with welfare claims for injured photographers, sorted out membership enquiries, presented NUJ recruitment and ethics talks at universities.
We have held courses on, The Business of Photography, First Aid and plan a Photoshop/Workflow Course, Public Order/Self Defense, other affordable training courses and mentoring.
In the New Year we will be leading a campaign around private security and the privatisation of public space. We will also be producing an I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist pamphlet, charting its success. We will also be engaging with other organisations in discussions on the impact of the Freedom Bill, further attacks to copyright and building for an event around Press Freedom Day in May.
I would like to thank the NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear and all the departments at NUJ HQ who have helped the branch navigate through our first year. The representation from our legal friends. All the voluntary work done by individual committee members and the branch members for their continued support and involvement.