Two images of the miners' strike, an instant apart: so which is the classic?


These days, it’s not unusual to see dozens of amateur photographers all pointing their smartphones in the same direction in a scramble to capture variations of the same shot. But scrums of professional photographers are an old and familiar phenomenon, with competing versions thus existing of many famous images. So what helps one picture stand out from the crowd?

One of photographer Martin Jenkinson’s best-known pictures shows a protesting miner, wearing a toy policeman’s helmet, squaring up to a line of police officers. The black and white image holds both a playful humour and tension in its frame, pitting the lone protester in his parodic outfit against the dark block of officers facing him, one of whom looks directly at the lens. The image was taken at the Battle of Orgreave, a pivotal 1984 miners’ protest in which the police outnumbered demonstrators. Some officers, many argue, used excessive force.

The Guardian sent its own photographer, Don McPhee, to cover the event on the same day, and one of the images he came back with is very similar to Jenkinson’s. The framing is tighter and the protester looks directly into the eyes of the policeman facing him, lending a clearer air of confrontation to the image: Jenkinson and McPhee must have been standing only a few feet away from each other when these near-simultaneous photos were taken.

Read the rest of the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 06/12/18]