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2022 — in 10 pictures

From scenes of jubilation to national mourning, peaceful protest to controversial vandalism, I took around 25,000 photos this year. So selecting a top 10 isn’t easy.  

But I’ve tried.

Below are ten of my personal favourites from the past year and a few words about the contexts, stories and people behind each one.


Labour of Love

Where and when? 

Whitehall, London, 2 July

What’s going on?

Labour Leader Keir Starmer, Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and London Mayor Sadiq Khan led (briefly) the Labour Party block at the annual Pride March in London. MPs Anneliese Dodds and Emily Thornberry can also (just about) be seen in the image. I loved the energy here, which seemed genuine despite the very obvious photo op.

It was estimated that over 1.5 million people took part in Pride in London this year, making it the biggest ever. It was something a bit different from my usual and a super fun event to shoot. The day was filled with joy and positivity and many were keen to have their picture taken, which is always nice.


Window Washer

Where and when? 

Barclays Bank, Southgate, Bath, 14 November

What’s going on?

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Dirty Scrubbers’ performance group targeted the Barclays Bank with a spot of cleaning. It was to draw attention to Barclays as “the UK’s and Europe’s biggest fossil fuel investor.” 100+ branches across the UK were ‘cleaned up’ in a coordinated action by XR groups.

This action took place during the COP27 climate talks in Sharm El-Sheikh. With their colourful garms, heavy makeup and crowd-capturing songs, the ‘Dirty Scrubbers’ are always a joy to photograph. I also captured their cleaning capers at the G7 Summit in St Ives last year and at various other protests.


Aftermath

Where and when? 

Park Lane, Mayfair, London, 16 October

What’s going on?

An activist with ‘Just Stop Oil’ is arrested after spraying orange paint across the front of an Aston Martin dealership. Others were glued-on to the road just out of frame.

Though separate, it happened during Extinction Rebellion’s Festival of Resistance weekend.

I was photographing the main XR activity (chanting, samba bands, etc.) in neighbouring Hyde Park when I saw a convoy of police vans speed down Park Lane. Then several more. Then half a dozen motorbikes. Heads started to turn. You would have thought there had been a major terror incident. At this point I overheard two XR activists talking quietly about Just Stop Oil. One of them said something about “paint” and then “a car dealership” and I took off towards the blue lights.

This was one of a series of orange paint attacks by the XR splinter group Just Stop Oil in the autumn, targeting luxury retail brands, energy companies and government buildings. The group uses militant and highly controversial tactics to gain media attention for their pressuring of government to halt new gas and oil contracts. The name ‘Just Stop Oil’ is often misconstrued — accidentally or otherwise — as a demand to stop all fossil fuel use immediately, but their true aim is more pragmatic.

Their infamous daily protests on the M25 motorway caused ferocious public debate during the autumn and the paint-throwing escapades also got people riled up. Which was, of course, the goal.


Decrim Now

Where and when? 

Bristol, 3 July 2022

What’s going on?

On Friday 24 June, the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in US law was overturned by the Supreme Court there. It caused international shock, paving the way for the re-criminalisation of abortion.

Protests led by women erupted in cities across America. It wasn’t long before women took to the streets here in the UK too. In Bristol, a city with a proud history of standing up for civil liberties and human rights, young women marched through the streets in solidarity with their American sisters and to highlight the lesser, but significant, limitations on abortion here at home.

This image shows the beginning of that march, near College Green, the regular meeting point for protest action in the city. The leader at the front had given a speech to the assembled crowd, tearing open her top to reveal the surprise message: DECRIM NOW. It was a reference to the fact that — unless passing a very specific medical approval process — abortion remains a crime in the UK.


Double Take

Where and when? 

Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, 12 September

What’s going on?

A notice on the windows of Fortnum and Mason Department Store catches the eye of a passer-by. Taken three days after the Queen’s death, the windows were blacked out and a message written: 

As a mark of our respect for the extraordinary life and reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our windows will be covered until further notice. Thank you.

Like many photographers, with news of the Queen’s death on Thursday 8 September, I headed to London the very next morning and spent five days documenting what I could of that historic week.

Ironically, I stood for ten minutes or so hoping for a clean shot of this sign between the bustling crowds. But caught this person turning to look and it certainly made a more interesting frame.

I had a hard time picking just one image from this period. Two runners-up: here and here.


Blue and Yellow

Where and when? 

Outside Downing Street, London, 12 March

What’s going on?

Throughout 2022, following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a regular protest rally was held several times a week on the grass on the east side of Whitehall, opposite Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. Anytime I was in London, I tried to drop by for an hour or so and capture something of it.

Though some allies joined, most in attendance were British-Ukrainians fearful for their homeland. Here, a child reaches for a balloon flower in the Ukrainian colours. I was able to capture this fleeting moment before her mother picked her up again. The symbolism was quite striking.

I documented Ukraine demonstrations whenever I could throughout the year in several UK cities, as well as in Kraków, Poland. Listening to speeches and testimony from Ukrainian people was always incredibly eye-opening and humbling.


Bristol Girl

Where and when? 

Colston Avenue, Bristol, 15 January

What’s going on?

A young woman stands in front of a police van during a continuation of 2021’s ‘Kill the Bill’ protests against the authoritarian anti-protest bill introduced by Priti Patel (remember her?).

The Home Office’s controversial bill sought to severely restrict peaceful protest by imposing tight conditions, particularly in certain areas of London. The highly authoritarian step went largely unnoticed by the general public but was fought against hard by the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest movement. Anger at the government spilled into anger at the police at times, particularly in March 2021

This particular event was loud, aggravated, but thankfully peaceful. 

The picture looks staged, but it wasn’t. I just spotted her, loved her style and her pose, and fired off the shot. She reacted with a laugh, the beginning of which is just showing in the image. I liked the slight blur of the hand. It was a chaotic day. Nothing was still.


No New Oil + Gas

Where and when? 

Near Trafalgar Square, London, 5 November

What’s going on?

Remember, Remember… A large rally took place in London on Guy Fawkes Night, calling for an election to settle the chaotic state of UK government after three Prime Ministers in a matter of weeks.

During the rally, a group of ‘Just Stop Oil’ activists began to march around the roundabout on the south side of Trafalgar Square, slowing traffic but not actually blocking it. Eventually they took a seat in the roadway on the east side. After a long standoff, several were arrested.

While a police officer negotiated with this man and asked him to move out of the road or face arrest, he looked right down the barrel of my camera, which always makes for a striking shot. I’m not sure if he got out of the road or not, as I moved on to capture others who were already being taken away.


Romans 1:27

Where and when? 

Piccadilly, London, 2 July

What’s going on?

Another from Pride in London. Here, a small group of Christian fundamentalist picketers had been contained by police in a cordoned area but were demonstrating directly next to the route of the Pride march. Inevitably, this was going to lead to some photos. I hung around the area for a minute.

This colourful person — taking part in the march — stopped to pose for a picture with the preachers behind the fence. Hate and love, misery and joy, collided. Photo made.

As a photographer friend later pointed out, what really makes the image is the contrast in the clothing and expressions. The drab grey and forlorn look of the preacher says more than any banner.

At this same spot a little later, the cast of Netflix’s gay teen drama Heartbreaker — who were taking part in the march — also stopped to respond to the haters. I captured some chaotic shots of star Sebastian Croft dancing and singing at the barriers, which took off on Twitter. There also a video.

As ever, love wins.


Rebel For Life

Where and when? 

Hammersmith & City Line, London Underground, 15 September

What’s going on?

On the weekend of 14–16 September, Extinction Rebellion descended on London for a ‘Festival of Resistance.’ Postponed from earlier in the year due to the Queen’s death, it was a weekend of music, talks, protest and of course direct action across the capital.

On the Saturday night, hundreds took to the tube and bus networks for ‘Cover the Capital’ — a coordinated campaign to replace adverts with messages of hope and warning for the climate. I tagged along with one group to document the action, on the agreement that their identity was protected since some of the action was technically illegal. In this photo, an activist puts a poster in place on an Underground carriage.

I was really struck by the public response to this protest action. I guess I expected some heckling and possibly even aggression. In reality, most tube passengers sat and watched with a mix of interest and amusement as the activists covered TfL’s adverts with their own. Many voluntarily moved out of their seats to allows access to the high-up boards. Only one man that I saw confronted the group and his grievance was only that they could use the blank spaces rather than covering adverts.

The participants had lots of constructive, open dialogue with members of the public, which was a large part of the point of this protest from the outset. For me, the positive response demonstrated how skewed our perception of protest actions can be when seen through the media, social media and other lenses with their own agendas. 

The ‘Cover the Capital’ action also features in a short film I put together about the Weekend of Resistance — available on YouTube.


Thanks for following my photography this year if you did. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

If my images did anything for you in 2022 and you’d like to pay something forward, you could buy me a coffee. This always means a great deal.

Otherwise, sharing this page on your social networks would be very much appreciated. I’m @jamiebellinger on Instagram and @jamie@masto.ai on Mastodon.

Stay tuned for more in 2023.

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