It was October 14, 2011. The Occupy Wall Street movement was growing and starting to capture attention. I was inspired by the mainstream media coverage: finally, people standing up to the unrestrained greed of Wall Street. I started following the news stories, and I learned about the birth of the Occupy Detroit movement on Facebook. I knew that the public outrage over the greed of the 1% wasn’t going to reach a dead end at Wall Street. It was headed for Woodward Avenue as well.
The opportunity to photograph the first march from Hart Plaza to Grand Circus Park was compelling, but that’s not why I decided to go. As a child, I’d watched protests on my parents’ black and white TV, but I wasn’t old enough to comprehend their meaning. As I grew up, I watched the fall of the middle class even as I struggled to “do better than my parents.” I experienced the devastating effects of so-called “trickle down” economics, recession, underemployment, and reduced access to health care coverage — to name just a few. Corporations were getting richer; I was getting poorer.
So I rushed home from work to meet my fiancé, and we were quickly off to downtown Detroit. I was excited as we walked from the parking lot up to Hart Plaza, and even more so when I saw masses of people carrying protest signs and shouting loudly.
I began taking photos of police, people, protestors, and the messages emblazoned across protest signs. As the crowd formed to prepare for the march to Grand Circus Park, a young man with a megaphone began leading chants. I put the camera to my eye and zoomed in to frame the moment. The megaphone came up to his face. He shouted into the grey horn and threw a fist of rebellion into the air. Click, I hit the shutter, but I didn’t think much about it.
When I finally got home, I quickly uploaded the photos onto my computer. I noticed the shot of the young man with the megaphone, and I immediately went to it. I made a few adjustments and converted it to black and white. A few more minor tweaks, and there it was, the photo that, for me, captured the call to the 99%. Ever since, I’ve been photographing the Occupy Detroit movement and constantly learning how to hone my skills as a photojournalist.
On the days that I’m not so happy with my work, I look at this photograph. I’m sure it’s not going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but it’s Pulitzer material to me.
If photography, writing or video has captured your attention as a result of the Occupy movement, the Occupied Detroit Free Press is for you. Please share your passion in this forum of free expression.
Terry F. Hall
Citizen Photojournalist for the 99%