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Friday, October 15, 2010

Remembering John Lennon

When crowds of people publicly display their emotions, it can provide very powerful photo opportunities.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to mourn slain Beatle John Lennon during a 10-minute silent vigil in New York’s Central Park, while some also surrounded Lennon’s home, the Dakota, where he had been shot by an alleged fan (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
Like many people, I first heard about John Lennon’s death when ABC Monday Night Football broadcaster Howard Cossell interrupted a game to inform football viewers. When a 10 minute silent vigil was held the following Sunday in New York City’s Central Park, journalists had to canvass the entire Central Park and adjacent areas to capture the expected outpouring of emotion because the best, most moving photos could conceivably be found anywhere. Starting at the Dakota where Lennon was slain, I encountered an enormous crowd of mourners surrounding it, (didn’t they know they were supposed to be in Central Park?) and it took quite awhile to wade through the people and realize the most compelling photo there was the immense crowd surrounding his famous residence. Proceeding to Central Park, I slowly walked through the masses looking for images and people to convey the day’s feeling of sadness. At the front of the crowd, it’s easier to find close-up, emotion pictures in such a mass of humanity. I discovered people with touching signs (“Imagine John Lennon Lives”), but the strongest pictures came when the official 10 minute silent vigil started, and people in front began sobbing and consoling one other. It can be difficult to find great photos in the midst of a large crowd, so I was fortunate the best pix were right up front without any obstruction. At this type of event, look for all three types of photos -- overalls (the large crowds near Lennon’s Dakota residence), mediums (mourners holding up signs), and close-ups (fans weeping and consoling each other).

3 Tips:
1) Photograph the three major types of photos – overalls, mediums, and close-ups – at crowded public rallies, to get a wide variety of pictures.
2) Canvass the whole area because you can find strong photos almost anywhere.
3) The most reliable place to look for emotional photos is at the front of a large crowd because your view is unobstructed and the most passionate attendees usually push to the front.

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