Oxfam - end tax havens

So recently I have been seeking photography work. 

I felt that my ability as a photographer should not be confined within the narrow world of myself and my camera.  In this rather cramped world I was only interested in setting myself assignments.  Assignments set, completed and assessed by me.  There was no room for anyone else in this one man one camera existence.

So I decided to leave this self-inflicted solitary confinement and venture into the world of photography work.  Why spend time thinking up and setting myself assignments when there is a world of assignments already set by other people?  I turned to the great social hub that was Facebook and messaged a girl called Katie.  Katie was an avid activist who dedicates much of her time for the pursuit of good causes.  I had already met her on a video project called Love Over Fear, a short video / social exhibition showing 4 girls from different backgrounds holding hands in a public place.  I typed her a message hoping she would have some form of upcoming charitable event, an event that would benefit from a photographer.  Luckily she did and conveniently it was this Saturday in Manchester.  It was an event organised by Oxfam.

Oxfam were taking to the streets of Manchester this Saturday.  In wake of the recent Panama tax haven scandal Oxfam’s goal was to publicize how tax havens are detrimental to the poor.  I arrived at the office roughly on time and was given instructions to go upstairs via the somewhat rusty and battered intercom.  The Oxfam office was a modest affair with its plain white walls and budget pine office furniture.  Although this is what you would want and expect from an office where a charitable organisation was operating from.  A well lavished office would surely indicate that donations were being misused.

I was quickly introduced to the busy crowd of volunteers, the raised there heads up to greet me and then quickly returned to preparing their banners and costumes.  It was time for me to go to work.  I opened up my overladen camera bag, pulled out my camera and started to mill around the room taking photos.  My goal was to get some candid behind the scenes photos of the volunteers preparing, followed by a group photo before departure and the rest of them doing their campaigning on the streets.

After final preparations were complete and a group photo taken the Oxfam troops were dispatched and headed to the rendezvous point on Market Street in the centre of Manchester.  Market Street is a mecca for all things street related in Manchester.  Street artists, street fund raisers, street performers.  Some good, some bad and some damn right weird all congregate here in the epicentre of Manchester.

The Oxfam troops set up camp at the end of Market Street and began to do their campaign.  Their goal was to get as many people to sign a petition that would be delivered to the government requesting that they take further steps against tax havens, and my goal was to take at least one good photo of each campaigner doing the above mentioned. 

Watching each of the volunteers through the lens of my camera approach people reminded me of the days when I was a street fund raiser myself, a really bad one as well.  It was my first job when I decided to roll the dice on my life, up sticks and move to Australia.  I stayed in the job long enough to get over the initial approach anxiety but I lacked the ability to convince people that their money was better spent on other people that they would never meet.

Luckily today I was not required to approach randomers on the streets, I could hide away behind my camera and take photos in relative peace.  It took about an hour to get a decent photo of every campaigner.  Overall today was a good day.  The campaign was a good one, as are all of Oxfam’s, it was good for me as I got some practice and some photos for my ever growing portfolio, it was good for Oxfam as they have some promotional photos and it was good for the world as tax havens are bad.  So it is win-win all round and the world is fractionally better off.