The Photographer’s Perspective of the Women’s March on Washington

Photographers within our community were all photographing the same event, at the same time, all over the country, which I found to be extraordinary. Saturday evening as the photographers in our community started sharing their 2017 Women’s March photos, I was blown away watching photos pop up from cities all over our country.

I did not march. I had caught wind of the March on Washington, but had no idea just how big it was going to be. I was home in my little rural town in Michigan and frankly felt like I must be living under a rock NOT to know this march had grown into a nationwide event. Obviously, there was plenty of media coverage on its sheer size, photos galore, and even standout (many humorous) signage being curated by Ellen. Sitting at home, I wanted to know what it was like to be the photographer that day.

So we reached out to a handful of photographers within the Fearless and Framed community to submit their photos and tell their side of the story through a short series of questions:

  1. What most motivated you to go out and shoot this event?
  2. What did being at the march feel like (what was the atmosphere like, how did it feel emotionally)? And going further, how did photographing the event feel for you?
  3. How did you choose what pictures to make? Was there an underlying story you were trying to tell through your pictures?
  4. What has this experience taught you?
  5. What was happening in the photo(s) you submitted? What was on your mind as you created this one?

This blog post broke a record in size for our site, yet we’ve only curated photographer stories from a tiny fraction of the cities and photographers who participated in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. As you read the stories from this diverse group of moment-seekers, each on their own photographic mission, and from different locations, there was a shared heart.

From the reasons behind the decision to photograph the event to the accounts of fear and surprise over the willingness of strangers welcoming the camera, their stories have similarities. Hearing their stories is a divine reminder of how united and full of love for our families, voices, and craft we are as a photography community.

 

Washington D.C.

“The Crowds” This was when I got stuck in the crowd, I kept moving along to capture as much as possible. I shot this overhead to get a sense of the size of the march. I loved the pink hats in the crowd and the Capitol as a center. Grace Medina
“Generations” I wanted to show young and old that participated. I asked those 2 ladies if I can take a photo. They were glad to pose for one. They drew my attention because I loved the fact that they came, especially the lady with a cane. She could not walk but she was till there! Holding her message and being part of this movement. Grace Medina
“The girl with the Pig” Everyone around was really excited for the pig sign this girl carried. I loved her red hair and the colors. I wanted to capture at least one image to show how some people there feel about our new President. Grace Medina
“Compassion and Kindness” I love this photo, probably one of my favorites. I asked this couple who was standing in the street with their group of protesters if I can take the photo. By change the person with the sign “Compassion and Kindness” walked by and I just love how it all goes together. This is what we need in this world. More of the compassion for others and always always kindness. Grace Medina
“High 5” I walked by this truck and noticed that all women passing by were giving a high 5 to the soldiers. I loved the fact that the soldiers were kind and understanding and responded to the positive energy all around. I wanted to show the unity that was there, everyone being on the same page. Grace Medina
“3 Women” I loved those girls, they were walking with gusto and I just loved their energy. I asked for a photo and they struck that pose. I loved it. Grace Medina
“Resist” This was on my way back, people were still pouring into the mall. The trains were completely full and metro doors could not close. I walked by a couple trains and saw this door, I loved the story here, the different people, young and older from different background all standing there together to “RESIST”. This is another of my favorites. Grace Medina

 

Grace Medina

Website // Facebook // Washington DC

I had and still have very strong feelings about what is happening in our country. I wanted to be part of something positive and see other people who still believe in the values I believe in. I walked all the way from Roslyn, where I currently live, to the mall (which is about 6 miles). I saw so many women marching, everyone so positive and people were cheering us on.

It felt good, it felt like we can make change happen and not all is lost. I wanted to capture this moment and these feeling in my images. As I watched people and their signs, I looked for kindness and positive message. I wanted to show that the young as well as older generations participated and were equally passionate about their cause for marching. I’ve learned there is power in unity. I walked away from this march feeling uplifted and more positive about the future. I saw that so many people care and will step up to make positive change happen.

 

I first saw this woman with her friend and shot them both together. This woman smiled of my photo and then turned a little away and joined the crowd’s chanting. Her exuberance was radiant. I wanted to spend all day soaking in her joy! Katie Jett Walls
The building behind the women is the Newseum, a museum dedicated to telling the story of our American free press and why it’s so important. A few feet beyond this point there is a 4-story engraving of the words of the first Amendment which enshrines protection not only for speech and the press, but also for the right of the people peaceable to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. I’ve marched in other protests and I am always moved to march beneath those words, that protection of my right to make my voice heard. So this photo shows onlookers cheering the marchers on from a balcony, and women (in those now famous pink pussy hats) raising their signs and blocking a sign on the building that was hung for the Inauguration Parade welcoming the 45th president. To me, the layers of meaning in this photo tell the story of the day. Katie Jett Walls
There were so many babies with their moms! This little girl was a little older than other babies being carried, so she was really enjoying the morning. Just grinning at everyone who passed by, which obviously was contagious. On my mind: this mom is carrying her baby all these steps – I can definitely march all day too! Katie Jett Walls

 

Katie Jett Walls

Website // More Images // Washington DC

My motivation to shoot the event is rooted in my personal street photography work. I started shooting this style back in the summer and found that I loved it and it loved me. It’s my happy place. I began documenting different streets and neighborhoods in the District, and also shooting street work wherever I traveled. I’ve got work from Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans as well as my DC work. After the election, I knew I’d need to use my voice in this way to document what would unfold in my town. People don’t always realize D.C. is also just home for thousands of people, and what happens here is our “local news.”

So for me, photographing the Inauguration Parade, and the Women’s March the next day, were an outgrowth of my passion for documenting the city I love. My politics fall heavily on the side of the Women’s March, so being there was also a deeply moving personal experience.

I had really complicated feelings about being there. When I shoot street work I often feel simultaneously invisible and immersed in my environment. At the March I was with friends, so I had to stay a little more present. I found that it was hard sometimes to both participate and be an observer. I kind of went back and forth between giving myself to the surge of enthusiasm and empowerment that was all around me (it was WONDERFUL) and slipping back into artist/observer mode to find the moments, make good compositions, make important statements about the events unfolding in front of me.

Also, for me, photographing the Inaugural Parade the day before had been a really dark experience (the energy in my city was very dampened, supporters of the new president didn’t seem at ease in the city, and the protesters outnumbered supporters significantly, creating a lot of tension). The Women’s March was such a stark contrast of joy and camaraderie that it stretched me emotionally (more images to show this here).

Near the end of the day, photographing street bands playing and people dancing, I cried, just from being so invested and so fully spent by both events.

I definitely went into photographing the March with an idea of the story I wanted to uncover: I wanted to cover the range of ages of the attendees, and I wanted to capture as many diverse faces as I could find. I also wanted to capture evidence of the emotion of the day in the faces I photographed. So my eyes were tuned into age groups – babies, children, teens and young adults, parents, middle aged and elderly. Everyone was represented (even midwives and pregnant mothers – I think only the dead were not present!). I also trained my eyes to seek out as many different genders, skin tones, languages on signage, styles, etc.

Knowing that the March itself has been challenged by weakness in representing all women, intersectionality and embracing women of color, I wanted to push past any of my own biases to really see everyone and show what America really looks like. Even now I am aware that so many women whose rights are at stake don’t have the ability to spend a Saturday at a march. To the best of my ability, I sought to find the women who were there that represent those who could not be there. I scanned the crowd for expressions of emotion, too, and caught everything I could see. One more thing: being a DC resident, I was very attuned to our geography – so views showing how far down major streets the crowd stretched, including signs for intersections and landmarks that other DC residents would recognize in order to gauge the enormous scope of the crowd in attendance.

 

This was right as we were about to pass the White House. I turned around and the emotion in this women’s expression with the heart in the background moved me. She looks sad, but determined, and is framed by a symbol of which very much captured the day for me. There are also a few Pussyhats in this image and since I had spent the week distributing hundreds of hats I wanted at least a couple of images with hats! Jamie Davis Smith
The March was bigger than just those in the street! I know so many people who couldn’t make it down because the metro was so crowded. Some who live in downtown DC participated by hanging signs up in their windows or holding signs out of the window. My 24-70 lens couldn’t get most of them, but I did manage to get this group cheering on the March from their apartment window. Jamie Davis Smith
These four women in Hazmat suits had stopped at various points to be more visible at the March. However, I thought a photo of them walking away was more interesting! Jamie Davis Smith

 

Jamie Davis Smith

Website // More Photos // Washington DC

I attended the Women’s March first and foremost as a participant to stand up for my rights, the rights of my daughters, and the rights of all women who couldn’t attend themselves.  As a photographer and writer I knew I wanted to try to capture at least some of the March to create a visual record of my family’s experience and to be able to share with those who could not attend.  Once I saw how huge the March was I knew that I would have a different experience there as hundreds of thousands of other participants and I wanted even others who attended to see other parts of the protest.  My goal was to create photos that would take me back to this historic event and would allow others to feel as though they were there.

The atmosphere was mostly joyful.  Despite the fear and anxiety we all felt after the election, there was a great sense of hope found in the sheer number of people who turned out as well as the realization that now that Trump was in office we could get on with the work of opposing his polices in a more serious way.  Taking over the streets of DC, even those around the White House, was empowering as we chanted and knew with such numbers we could not be ignored.  As I was making pictures, I really felt as though I was photographing history.  Everyone I photographed was open and willing, ready and anxious to have their issue know and their presence documented.

Since I was at the March with my four young children I didn’t have the luxury of being focused on telling a specific story.  I was actually pushing a stroller while shooting most of the images I made during the March!  I did, however, try to keep my eyes open for interesting compositions and I looked for opportunities to make photos that showed the diversity of the event, both in terms of issues and population.  I had also photographed three other protests in the preceding three days as seen here.  Those were the Queer Mike Pence Dance Party at Mike Pence’s temporary home in my neighborhood, a show of support for Comet Pizza of the infamous Pizzagate conspiracy which is also in my neighborhood, and the Disrupt J20 Festival of Resistance on Inauguration Day.  In many ways, I wanted also to show that the Women’s March, as large as it was, was itself part of a larger protest movement. Although I missed out on many iconic photos, because I was focused on my family and participating in the March, I still think I achieved my goal.

In many ways, photographing these protests has reinforced the value of photography to me.  No one person’s experience at the March was the same as another’s and it is so valuable to have some many points of view of this historic event documented.  Because of my experience of not being able to focus solely on photography at the March, I also realized the importance of regular shooting so that you can get your settings right and recognize good composition and a deceive moment when you see it.  I’ve also learned I can handle my camera pretty well with one hand!

A young girl leans into her father who looks over the crowd. I love the look of awe on his face. She relies on him as a source of comfort, but I just love the example he is setting by bringing her to this march. As I took the photo I imagined the strong and independent woman she will grow up to be. Yasmina Cowan
a mother kisses her baby girl wearing a pink hat like her. I loved that this young mother brought her sweet baby and the challenges that come along with doing so in such a big crowd, because it was clearly so important for her to be there. I wish I could find this mother and give her this photo so that her daughter could see that from day 1 her mother was standing up for what was right and leading by example. Yasmina Cowan

 

Yasmina Cowan

Website// Facebook // Washington DC

I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. To march in solidarity with a diverse group of men and women and to stand up for the fundamental rights that should be a given for all of us, not just those among us most privileged. I wanted to stand up for love in the face of hate. And most importantly, I wanted to be an example to my children. That when our rights and the rights of those more marginalized are threatened, we stand up in the face of it.

It was a beautiful march. I was truly humbled to be a part of something symbolizing a movement of something so much bigger. As the tide shifts toward a very uncertain future, and with so many of our fellow Americans feeling scared, unheard and marginalized, it was truly uplifting to witness so many people fighting the good fight. It was packed and yet the tone at the march was of nothing, but love and respect. It was a beautiful thing to experience and I am grateful for it. I was humbled to have the opportunity to photograph something so impactful.

I came to the March very aware that I would meet people with so many different motivations for marching. Anger, fear, hope, solidarity. It was moving to me to find a common thread of love and respect between people regardless of motivation or background. My approach at the march was to look for stories and capture those. Embrace the diversity and capture all of the motivating stories that brought us all together to stand united in love not hate. I wanted to capture a wide array of people and their different stories.

It has taught me that, when we are united, we are capable of so much more than we even know. It was truly amazing to experience such a huge and diverse number of people come together so peacefully and treat each other with mutual respect. I feel that even though many of us feel that we have taken a step backwards as a country, it has given me hope that we will take legitimate steps forward. Many people have finally woken up from their apathy and are actively listening to their neighbor.

 

Hell hath no fury like five million women scorned! Caption created by my 21 year old daughter, Tess Bissell (5 million worldwide is the number in attendance at the marches, that the Women’s March organizers listed on a video of the march they just posted on FB). Melissa Bissell

 

Melissa Bissell

Website // Facebook // Washington DC

After the election was over, I felt a great amount of despair and a sense of hopelessness. When word of the Women’s March started spreading, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what yet, and this seemed like a good start. At the same time, the logistics of attending the march felt overwhelming.

Being the introvert that I am, the thought of jumping on a bus with 54 other people, many of whom I probably wouldn’t know, and spending 15-16 hours during a 24 hour period traveling in tight and uncomfortable quarters with them was not appealing and very much out of my comfort zone. I put on my big girl panties, contacted the organizer, who happened to be our State Rep, and wrote a check to hold my seat.  As the date of the march grew closer, and I started getting word from our organizers that the departure time would be 5am, no 4am, no 3am, nope, please arrive for the bus at 2:30am, I became more and more anxious. But two things kept me focused on the end result:

  1. I wanted to document this event with a passion! With daily news stories exclaiming the probability of the loss of many of our freedoms or at least tamping down on them, motivated me to use my talent and skill as a storytelling photographer and document this historic event.
  2. Two weeks prior to the Women’s March on Washington, I was asked to photograph a local march and rally in our small city.  Our march was called the 4 Freedoms, based on the 4 Freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. We marched in frigid temps with windchill reaching 15 below. It was a thrilling event to document and to be a part of. Two thousand people turned out from our county and beyond.  Culling and processing my photos after fueled my desire to get to Washington on Jan. 21.

Being at the march was just thrilling. Our bus arrived in MD at about 10:15 and then we had to take the metro into DC. The feeling of awe at the size of the event began long before we arrived in DC, when we stopped in Delaware for a driver change. The rest stop was full of buses that looked just like ours! Inside the rest area the lines of pink-pussy-hat-wearing-women were too long to get through. Once back on the highway we were sandwiched on all sides by buses heading to the march. Entering a packed metro in MD, we found more women and men with pink pussy hats, signs and huge smiles of joy and excitement on their faces. Our contingent from Pittsfield merged into the masses on the metro and many of us did not see each other again until we returned to the bus at 6:30pm.

A friend and I made a plan to stick with the buddy system and decided that she would be chief navigator and I would be chief documentarian. Arriving in DC, the atmosphere was one of high energy, joy and hope.  There was also a sense of confusion as people were trying to figure out where to go. I immediately tried to contact both my college-aged daughters who were already there, but due to spotty service and crowds of hundreds of thousands we never did connect (the one disappointment of the day for me).  I had assumed there would be security checkpoints, but we never found any. We didn’t even see many police. After the rioting and the arrests of the night before, I had expected there would be many.

I immediately felt safe within this community of like-minded people of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, women, and men. We never did make it into the main rally area – we tried but there were just too many people to get through. We did however participate in the march and made it all the way to the White House! Prior to the march, we primarily stayed on the outskirts. You will see from my photo above that there were still thousands upon thousands of people. Photographing the event was beyond exciting. Photographing history in the making, what could be better?!

In addition, people were excited to have their photograph taken.  In my experience people tend to shy away from cameras, but not at this event. It seemed like people either wanted their photos taken or were at least ok with it even if they were camera shy. Moms and dads even seemed excited to get their kids in photos. History in the making all the way around! I loved working from a purely photojournalistic vantage point. This is the kind of photography that I am most passionate about.  Capturing events in real time from my own perspective.

Going into the march, I wanted to show the scale of the event.  Even before Trump and his press secretary began disputing the numbers from the inauguration and the arguments over facts and “alternative facts,” I knew I wanted my images to reflect the true scope of the event.  I purposely chose to shoot with wide angle lenses. I brought only my iphone and my tiny Ricoh GR ii, which is a new camera to me. Using my Ricoh, I shot primarily at 28mm. The image displayed above was shot with my Ricoh.

With the carnival-feeling atmosphere instilling a sense of love, peace and hope, there was definitely an underlying current of seriousness, undertones of fear and anxiety over what would happen after January 21st.  Will our worst fears be recognized during the next 4 years?  I feel like the darkness and heaviness in my images is the counterbalance to the pink power of hope throughout, leaving the viewer with questions: How will the march impact our future? Will it bring change? What can I do to make change? What will our next 4 years be like? How will these next four years affect the future of our children? These are the things I thought about while capturing moments at the march and these are questions and thoughts I hope come to mind when people view my images?

I’ve learned that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone is healthy for me. It’s good to reach out to people, even if I am introverted. This experience was empowering and made me want to find a way to make a difference. It reinforced my passion for documentary photography and photojournalism, and I would like to find a way to give back through photography. It also taught me to be brave and turn around, to look behind me.  Some of my best images were moments captured when I quickly turned around and photographed a mass of people quickly approaching me.  People were so friendly and accomodating that they would just smile and walk around me.  After a while I stopped worrying about getting knocked over or swept away in the crowd.

In the photo above, I was going for a documentation of the scale of the event.  I think what makes this photo particularly powerful is that this crowd was not part of the rally or the march.  I was at the intersection of 4th  Street and C Street. I photographed the crowds on all 4 streets of the intersection and they were all equally large, so I can only imagine how big the crowd was at the rally itself. This was the overflow – people trying to get to the rally or out of the rally. At the advice of my friend I climbed up on a stack of fencing about 5 feet high.  I am only 5 foot 3 and I’m 49 years old, so it was not easy for me to get up there, but again, pushing out of my comfort zone paid off! When up high the sight was absolutely awe-inspiring! Women, men, children, babies, elderly, people in wheel chairs, all colors, all ethnicities, sizes and shapes, pink pussy hats, and signs. We were all there!  I hoped that the image would show what it is like to be engulfed in a sea of humanity!

 

New York

Sara Luckey
Sara Luckey
Sara Luckey

 

Sara Luckey

Website // More Images // New York

My sister-in-law was getting on a bus from Virginia to go march in Washington. I started thinking about the bigger picture, how women were organizing. She called me out on Facebook, saying if I’d go shoot, my photos would be fantastic. Her words were pushing me out of my comfort zone and this event was calling to me. I think we all need to bring something to the table if we want to see change. I knew there would be tons of iPhone photos, but approaching it as a self-assigned project gave me a focused purpose and would allow me to create some beautiful, meaningful images. I didn’t know I would be crying and laughing at the same time.

I was a little apprehensive about the crowds, security, etc., but the minute I got off the subway at Grand Central, the joy and fellowship of the event took over. I saw people from all walks of life, and I was very proud to be a part of this. There was a collective buzz of energy in the street that was absolutely contagious.

I spent the first 2+ hours photographing solo, then met up with my aunt and uncle, and marched with them and two of their friends for another 2-3 hours, photographing the whole time. I found a renewed boost of energy when I met up with them and it personalized the whole event. I enjoyed being both an observer and a participant.

I tried to spotlight the faces attached to the signs. Photographing the signs was fun, but it really became a complete picture when the marchers’ faces were included. I love telling stories through my work and I primarily shoot people, families, kids.. this event unfolded right in front of me, I just was there to capture it as honestly and beautifully as I could.

I really saw that every person there contributed to the greater good. Even if only one passionate person had shown up, it would have been a statement. But, for 400,000+ peaceful marchers to walk together (in NYC alone), well, that’s a beautiful statement that cannot be ignored. Every person counted in making this significant. And I think the same applies to calls, letters, dialogues with our representatives… every single bit of contact will help to enact the change we seek. The prospect might seem daunting solo, but collectively we are a strong force to be reckoned with.

From the photographer angle, I relished shooting an assignment with minimal gear. I took one camera, one lens. It was wonderful!  (Canon 5Dmk3 and 50mm, if you’re curious!)  I was happy to be light, mobile, and to not have to overthink things.

In the photos above, I was looking for strong women for good portraits. It was like fishing out of a bucket! These women were particularly fierce and hopeful and open.

 

Pride in a job well done. The grandmother feminist. The look on her face is priceless to me, she seemed proud and exhilarated to be with her family for this march. She marches with her daughter and granddaughter to protect the rights that she didn’t have when she was younger, rights they have never been without. My main goal photographing this march was to highlight the fact that people were marching in many ways to preserve and fight for the rights of their families. We have to teach our children that our voices matter in our country, and this women has succeeded in this and she knows it. Desiree Walters
Peaceful Power. The front of the march as it was approaching Grand Central station. The sheer enormity of the crowd is here, but I was really focusing on the police officers. They are happy, talking and laughing, hands in their pockets, not outwardly threatened or concerned about these hundreds of thousands of people who have descended on the city. Every police officer I encountered was just as I’d expect: friendly, respectful, and doing a damn good job controlling a nearly impossible thing to control. Desiree Walters

 

Desiree Walters

Website // Facebook // New York

I decided to attend the event before I committed to photograph it. I wanted to do my small part in making this enormous collective voice be heard. Since the election, I’ve thought about how I can contribute to making positive changes and how to use my photography for that. I decided to tell the positive and powerful story of this march, focusing on the peaceful, family-friendly, and amicable interactions with law enforcement. So much press focuses on the negative, it doesn’t tell the whole story and buries the important messages.

The atmosphere of the whole city was energized, but not frantic or chaotic. It felt safe, and the crowds seemed relieved to have the support of the thousands of their neighbors.  It was truly overwhelming, filled with hope and love, lots of humor, but also a sense of urgency and concern.  It was an adrenaline rush photographing the march.  I walked in the middle of the crowd against the stream to get the photos that make you feel like you were there.  No one cared that I was in their way, on the ground, bumping into them with my backpack. They wanted their photos taken, they wanted their message out there.

Leading up to the march I decided to tell the story of families marching peacefully to protect the rights of their families. I would not focus on the negative, avoid the anti-Trump rhetoric as much as possible, but rather tell the story of how all of these men and women came out to peacefully demonstrate that we will demand that they protect all of our citizens and all of the rights that we hold. I wanted to showcase the massive power of peaceful protests. We knew they would likely be peaceful, so many brought their children, to teach their children that they have a voice and their voice is important.  I was floored my the commitment of these families to teach their children what civic privileges and duties they possess in this great country, and by the police officers strength and patience to protect these rights.

I was amazed at how quickly I threw all caution and reservations out the door once I arrived. Walk on a vehicle-only bridge? Sure. Hang over this bridge with the press core that I raced to get the best shot I could? Absolutely. Take pictures of strangers and their children with reckless abandon? Why not?  I’ve never been comfortable shooting strangers or making myself stand out, but something about this energy made it all OK and I was somehow just as comfortable getting in my zone as I am in someone’s living room.

 

“This is MY America” A young mother marches proudly with her baby during The Women’s March on NYC on January 21st, 2017. I had moved along the barricade behind the stage down the the far end of 1 Dag Plaza to where many of the marchers were just beginning. Then I saw this determined young woman carrying her sleeping baby with an stars and stripes hat. She was so determined. It was fairly cold with just spots of sun at this time, but she kept moving through that crowd. Behind her was an older woman with a Planned Parenthood sign and I thought to myself what amazing symbolism. This young mother carrying her child, cradling him as she stood up for her rights and the generation behind her advocating for the very rights that gave her a choice to be a parent. Tracy Barbour
“Girls Are Still Special” A young girl looks up to her mother, while her grandmother holds on in solidarity during The Women’s March on NYC on January 21st, 2017. I saw this young girl with her sign and a photo on it which I can only assume is the three generations in her family. On one side was her mother and the other was her grandmother holding her arm. The way she looked at her mother was inspiring. THAT is love, THAT is unity, THAT is the generations before teaching this young girl to grow into a strong woman. Tracy Barbour

 

Tracy Barbour 

Website // More Images // New York

I originally was slated to attend The Women’s March on Washington DC. Having just moved to NYC and been embraced by this city (and being a NYC street photographer), I felt it was important that I stand in solidarity with my fellow New Yorkers.

My background is as a minority woman. I am Hispanic. My biological mother and her family were undocumented immigrants. I was raised from the age of 6 by white adoptive parents. Both of my parents dedicated their lives to public education, having just retired after 43 years of teaching. My adoptive mother and father both also dedicated their lives to those with disabilities and at risk youth. I am the only child left with aging parents who may lose their Medicare. I was taught from an early age that all people are equal, that we must show empathy and compassion, that we must give and give some more.

I often, if not always, document those subjects that are closest to what I know and to my heart. As you can see from my background, I have a lot at stake in the policies this new administration adopts.

The energy that was in the air was literally buzzing. So many faces and hearts hopeful, not heavy, leaning in on each other. Emotionally it was energizing yet overwhelming (in a good way) at the same time. People radiated hope, warmth, empathy, compassion, and a fighting spirit everywhere you went.

As I photographed, I absorbed all that energy. I absorbed the hope, the frustration, the love, and even the tears. There are people, despite the unity and the action who are still fearful. Those people came out despite that fear. I absorbed that fear as well. I can readily admit I went home after and reflected upon the day as I was processing the images.

There were photos I had to take for posterity. But then there were images that I took because I could see the energy pouring from the people I photographed. I think ultimately the underlying story was to show generations of women together supporting each other, men supporting women, and children being the next generation to move forward in hope for a better future.

This experience has taught me that we are not alone. If you ever think you are alone, think about the thousands and millions marching all across the globe. There is hope, there is unity, and there is action. Every image I shot shows that. I was honored to be a part of this movement and contribute to the documentation of human history.

Philadelphia

Danielle Snyderman Miller
Danielle Snyderman Miller

 

Danielle Snyderman Miller

Instagram // Facebook // Philadelphia

I had never been to a rally but as this election unfolded, I vowed to stand up to social injustice in whatever way I could.  At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out of fear of crowd size and safety concerns, but if there is one thing I have learned from this election, it is that things won’t change unless we all lean into our discomfort.

As a geriatrician who has had the privilege of being trusted to walk with families during the most difficult and vulnerable times in their lives, I’ve always been impressed with their resilience and ability to make new beautiful memories even in the darkest of times. I find myself taking mental photographs of the way people look at each other, the gentle stroking of a loved one’s arm, or the mix of laughter with tears streaming down faces. My interest in photography mirrors my interest in medicine. To feel and capture the humanity in people as they face transitions in their lives….an engagement, a wedding, a new baby, a family conquering illness. And now a nation facing new challenges and increasing divide.

On Saturday I made the choice to stand with women I care about and for the things I believe. I marched for peace and democracy. I marched for my grandparents who were Holocaust survivors. I marched for my parents who modeled “we belong to each other” before that was even vogue. I marched for my brother with special needs.  I marched for my HUCM medical school classmates who taught me that white privilege is real and to always stand up, I marched for my patients to advocate for access to the care they need. I marched for my LGBTQ friends, because I strongly believe that everyone should feel the depths of love without limits. I marched for my in-laws who embraced this Jewish girl into their Christian family with nothing but acceptance. I marched for my husband because behind this strong woman is a wonderful man who encourages me to be all that I am. And I march for my daughters because they embody kindness, empathy, and hope and because I believe they and their generation can embrace the responsibility and gift of caring for all humans.

From a place of privilege, I stood with humanity.  With my camera, I set out to capture these moments, to tell those stories. Their faces told stories of struggle, fear, grit, resolve, and promise. The atmosphere was strikingly peaceful.  Despite 50,000 voices, it wasn’t particularly loud. It mirrored the calm of a snowstorm; a phenomenon that is organized and forceful, yet calm in its resolve. And with that came power.  I witnessed love and kindness and I felt hope.

 

In Lancaster we were not able to march, so it was a stationary gathering in the square. There was a musician playing and everyone was singing along. She kept holding up this sign and I honestly just waited for it to be in the right spot and so I could get the sign and her emotion in the photo as well. Erin Berry

Erin Berry

Website// More Images // Lancaster

Other than my love of photojournalism and street photography, the issues hit home for me. I am a woman. I am bisexual. I am in the minority that feels scared for the future. I wanted to join in the rally and document an event that I felt connected to in a strong way. An event I know will be in the history books and I can tell my two boys, ‘Mom was there. I made a difference.’

There was undoubtedly a feeling of hope and pride there. So many people together for the same reason. Men and women. I didn’t feel much different in the moment photographing the event, but afterwards when all the news outlets were reporting how many people showed up and marched, that’s when it hit me. I photographed history in the making. I am still swimming in the thought that these images out there are going to be talked about for a very long time.

I was mainly focused on shooting two things. I knew I wanted to capture the signs and the different reasons we were there, but the main thing I looked for was the emotion. I wanted to capture how we were feeling in the moment. The laughter, the pride, the fear, all of it.

My biggest lesson… to go for it. My biggest hang up in street photography is the fear of getting scolded or asked not to take their picture. If I really want to document history, I need to suck it up and go for it. It’s not going to come to me.

 

Colorado Springs

I did not grow up in a time were coat hanger abortions were something that happened. Seeing this signage takes me back to perhaps when she was young and it was a real fear. Her sign shows that yes, coat hanger abortions were real and she is afraid that given the current political climate, women will have no other option again. It is really symbolic. Both of these ladies hold signs that can take us back years because these things happened! They are speaking out because they have been there and can feel the fear in their bones even today. Sandy Fales
The head of the March photo is probably one of my favorites. When we left the park the police told everyone via a microphone speaker that we were to stay on the sidewalks. As you can see, we didn’t. We filled Tejon Street in Downtown Colorado Springs and this photo is evidence of that. The numbers were great and you can tangibly see that here. The ladies leading this march were brave. Sandy Fales
The urban punk image was so striking to me, because here is this person who is against government completely (as is apparent with his decorated flag) and he is marching with these women for their rights. Honestly, he risked himself and his wellbeing displaying such a flag but, he did it anyway. Support from men in this fight is often overlooked. Here, we can see that yes, even those who maybe on the outside put up a tough front, really do care about their fellow human and they stick their neck out to show it. Sandy Fales

Sandy Fales

Website // Facebook // Colorado Springs

My motivation to go out and shoot this event was not just stemmed from an assignment at my college paper. The assignment was created, because I pitched the idea and wanted it to be covered. It was a historical event. Something that perhaps my grandchildren will read about one day in their history books. Then they can come to me and tell me and I can pull out these photos and be proud because I WAS THERE. I honestly documented that day. I kept it real. Images are probably the most powerful thing one can produce. I really wanted to capture the heartfelt concerns and issues of these times and present them to the public in hopes that even one person is moved.

When I was on my way to the march, I had to drive past Acacia Park in order to find a place to park my vehicle. As I approached the park an hour ahead of the March’s scheduled start, it was already filled with signs and supporters. I began to cry. I knew in that moment that this was something that I was proud and thankful to be a part of. This was going to bring people together instead of tear them apart.

It moved me to see so many come together for a collective cause. When I walked over to the park there were words of encouragement written in chalk all the way there. I was parked 5 blocks away. The march was nothing but smiles and love and peace and support. The Colorado Springs Police Department was courteous and simply lovely. We even got a few high fives.

I had not one person tell me that I could not take their picture. When I ran in front of the entire march snapping away, weaving in and out of the crowd, no one gave me a dirty stare. It was like they welcomed me, even not knowing who I was, because they knew I had a purpose. They knew that I was there to help show the world what we have done.

I wanted to tell the true story of the event. I started taking photos even before I arrived in the park and continued through the speakers and the march. The photos I took during the event were ones that I knew would speak to others. Clever signage, children whose parents are helping them understand what they are fighting for and photos of people just doing their thing. Connection is huge in photos. If you can connect with what the photo shows, even in some small way, it’s more likely to stick with you. Real people doing real things. That is what is the set of images is about.

This experience has taught me that if you want to document something in your life, even if it is scary and you might not know what to expect, you should still do it and do it 100%. I could have gotten kicked out or badmouthed or someone could have try to break my camera or take it. But it didn’t happen. Our fears are much larger than reality most times. If we look at our fears as something that we can overcome, just a small road block, instead of something that holds us back, we can make some epic discoveries about our world and ourselves.

 

North Carolina

I took this photo from several angels. After I reviewed them I wanted one that showed her sash with “for women.” I thought it helped tell the story. This lady was in the middle of a large crowd. I managed to get to the center where she was and get low and watched it play out. She was leading the crowd in a chant, “This is what democracy is.” It just told the story in one frame to me: The megaphone and the sash and the passion on her face, surrounded by downtown buildings. It was a great moment. Tammy Smith
I walked with a group of girls playing drums and chanting. They were leading the march. As I walked with them I took all the pictures I could. They were alive and on fire with passion. I was drawn to this girl with the drum. She embodied the emotion of the moment that day. Tammy Smith

Tammy Smith

Website // More Images // North Carolina

The march was history and it was real! I am a documentary family photographer, so an opportunity to document an event in such a real and raw way was an inviting opportunity. Regardless of your political views or opinions we all live in America and freedom is one of the highest rights we hold. So many times we take that right for granted and begrudge it of each other. It does not matter whether you believe in the opinions expressed yesterday . Respect for fellow citizens is what matters. A respect for the voice given to us, by so many who sacrificed to give that voice to us and keep it for us.

Our country guarantees that each member can voice their opinions, protest in peace and stand up for what they individually believe. THAT, my friends, is what makes America great.

I was honored to see our country at its best yesterday. No rioting. No hate. Just Americans standing together for their personal opinions with their children showing them what it means to stand for beliefs in a peaceful, but powerful way. Freedom is a highest privilege and one that we should all honor and respect even if the exercising that freedom to not voice the opinion you individually hold. To criticize it would be to criticize the very foundation of this country.

When I first arrived I was nervous, anxious and excited. I had never really done street photography and certainly not a protest. Within minutes, I felt comfortable. I felt like I was in awe. It was surreal to see history taking place before my eyes. I was so proud to be an American. I was so grateful for the freedom we all have to have opinions and express it. I was filled with hope to see women, men and children standing beside each other exercising their democratic rights. To me it didn’t matter what you believed or what your opinion was, you had to love seeing the freedom our country is founded upon playing out.

I wasn’t trying to tell a particular story other than documenting the event itself. I wanted it to be a story of the people there, not a story of the signs or the anger. I wanted it to be a story of unity and the beauty of citizens raising their voices in the most basic exercise of freedom. I concentrated on capturing moments: the passion in attendees faces, the children being taught to have their voice heard, the men supporting the women. I wanted to take pictures that made viewers feel like they were there.

I’m now in love with this type of photography and will now make every effort to document these pieces of history. I didn’t take my two young sons to this march, but in the future I’d like to bring them so they can see the history. Then, we can start open communication about what is happening.

What I most learned is to get close without fear. After about an hour, I started to feel comfortable getting really close. I realized the people there were not going to say no. These were people that wanted their story told and their voices heard.

 

Denver

We had just finished the 1.3 mile march. The beginning and end are just a half block apart in Denver so as we spilled into Civic Center Park, people were crowded up to try to begin the march. The crowd was shoulder to shoulder and intense. Then suddenly I turn around to a small clearing and see these two ladies. I barely had time to read the sign, think, ‘God I love you!’ and snap a photo before the crowd swept us in different directions. I wish I’d had time to talk more with them! Rachel Weaver

Rachel Weaver

Website // Facebook // Denver

I’ve never marched for anything before, but this somehow felt different. I felt like I needed to be there to take a stand for something and quit hiding behind Facebook. It’s a no brainer that my camera always comes with. It wasn’t until the night before, that I felt that photographing it was going to be really important.

The energy was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.  The massive number of people and the positive energy was awe inspiring.  Everyone was photographing their experience, but for me it became about finding the ‘why’ for me. Why was I marching? Why did I feel the need to be here?

Almost immediately I noticed the elderly women marching with walkers and in wheel chairs. If anyone had an excuse not to be there, it was them. And yet they came. Their story fascinated me.

I’ve learned I need to be a better steward of democracy. I cared, but I didn’t see what others go through or have fought for. I have a duty to make a better world for my daughter and to honor the women warriors before me.

 

Florida

Scenes from the crowd. Mia Paolini
No words needed. South Florida women unite in solidarity with the Women’s March on DC and the sister events happening in cities across the globe. Mia Paolini
It’s not about who’s right or wrong, but coming together and being Kind to one another again. Mia Paolini

 

Mia Paolini

Website // More Images

We had a beautiful day for the Women’s March – Palm Beach, FL. When a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to the March I knew I couldn’t stay home, even if three soccer games were going on that day. Women’s rights, rally, photography and spreading kindness with my wonderful friend were all the reasons I needed to head out. The weather was perfect, the energy was high, positivity was everywhere and there was a beautiful calm about everybody. Spending the day with 1000’s of people peacefully coming together was more powerful than I ever could have imagined and I’m thankful I was there to document this historical event.

Everybody was proud to have their photos taken. Proud of their solidarity, proud of their signs, proud to be themselves and have that documented. I’m already looking ahead to my next street photography shooting. I feel like I’ve shed a few layers when it comes to shooting strangers.

 

Washington State

Kayleigh Stefanko
Kayleigh Stefanko
Kayleigh Stefanko
Kayleigh Stefanko
These two women brought their 1 month-old child to the march because they felt their rights as a married lesbian couple and the rights of their daughter were at risk. We bonded as we marched over the idea that our children held the key to ending the need to march. I have MANY powerful images from the day but this one speaks to me louder than any of the others. Kayleigh Stefanko
I wanted a self portrait to show the reason I marched… for my daughter’s future. This is my daughter, holding her very first protest sign. I NEEDED to show her that she was a part of this movement and has influence, no matter what her age. Kayleigh Stefanko

 

Kayleigh Stefanko

Instagram // Facebook // Olympia

I decided to participate in this march, long before I even thought about photographing it. All my life I have been raised to stand up for my right as a woman, against racism and homophobia, and to advocate for those who don’t have the chance to themselves. But beyond my own self interests, I knew this was a chance to introduce my 19 month-old daughter into the world she’s being raised in, one of sisterhood and power. My disabled husband came to join us to support his rights and the women in his family (we were joined by his mother and his sister) and he knew we were marching for his rights as well. I’ll be honest, I was scared to go the day of.

I felt the bubble of the unknown creep up my throat. The rioting around the country around Trump’s inauguration made me pause and consider my safety, my child’s safety and that of my husband as well (a disabled man). I pushed it down as far as I could with each piece of clothing I put on for the march. We drove to the march and parked and I paused, looked at my husband and said “I’m really nervous, are you?” He said, “No, I’m just really excited for you.”

I realized then that this is how my friends of color feel everyday to simply go out and live their life. I realized that this is how a woman who is abused feels every morning she wakes up to the same hell. So I swallowed down that lump of fear and began to walk with my fellow marchers to the meeting spot, I started to get energized.

Thrilled, HOPEFUL! When we got into the thick of the crowd, I was beyond ready to march, all fear washed away. I still felt the weight of the day, due in large part to the carrying of my child on my back for miles and up steep inclines. Every movement she made hurt my back and shoulders but I pushed on because things in life are difficult and painful. For my fellow Americans, a lot of their day is this way, so a few hours would teach me some humility. The crowd was diverse, full of children, families, people of color, all kinds of accessibility, and there was not an ounce of anti-trump rhetoric beyond signage. I LOVED that. This march is spurred by him, but wasn’t about him.

I was trying to tell the story of a mother IN the march, on the ground. I didn’t stop once to ‘get the shot,’ I just kept walking within it. I wanted to maintain journalistic integrity and tell the story of any counter protest, but there simply wasn’t one to be found. Not one clash.

I learned this country isn’t taking this shit quietly. I don’t know how else to say it. That there is hope when since November all I’ve felt is despair and anger. It also forced me to again assess my white privilege, something that is always difficult to do.

Whew.

Marie here. I mean, wow, right?

Did you photograph the 2017 Women’s March? Drop your link below and tell us about your experience as a photographer and human!

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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  • This is so absolutely beautiful to see what each of these women saw and to read what they felt and experienced. I marched with family members in my city. I made the very hard decision to go sans-camera because I wanted to fully participate in the march, carry my signs and be present for the children marching with us. Throughout the march it was hard not to wish I had my camera to capture the incredible moments we witnessed. Every color, gender and age represented. Signs ranging in theme from female empowerment to environmental protection to healthcare to education to LGBTQIA to family-oriented to science. Thank you so much for publishing this and allowing us a little glimpse into the experiences of cities all over.