The Freedom Manifestation, 22nd January 2022

I had found out that The Freedom Movement was, once again, going to hold a demonstration against the Swedish governments coronavirus restriction policy, specifically against the use of coronavirus vaccine passports. Their previous demonstrations were deemed illegal but this one had been granted permission from the Swedish Police Authority and because of this was projected to be larger than their past demonstrations. As I am always looking for opportunities to hone my photographic skills I decided to attend.

Because of the seasons freezing temperatures I chose to bring my Minolta XD5, paired with a 50mm lens, in-place of my rangefinder. I didn’t want to risk my primary camera breaking and so chose one that I could afford to lose.

I arrived at about 14:30 at Norrmalmstorg, the demonstration had already started to move up Hamngatan and so I moved along side it and up on the bridge overlooking the street to get a better vantage point. There were a lot of people. Previous demonstration held by The Freedom Movement drew only a couple of hundred people but this time the crowd measured in the thousands.

As the demonstrators spread out over Sergels torg I moved down to try to get a place at the overhang. The place was packed and I made several attempts at getting closer to the railing but to no avail. I walked around and tried going down to the square by the large staircase besides the metro entrance but there were just too much people. Resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t get any closer I walked around the crowd searching for photographic opportunities.

At 16:00 the darkness had settled, I watched from the bridge over Hamngatan as the demonstrators were singing and lighting flares. After watching them for a little while I decided to call it quits.

I must say that I am quite pleased by my behaviour during this demonstration. I was calm and collected and didn’t do anything that attracted unwanted attention. This was also the first time I used a notepad during an event to jot down important happenings. It worked well and is something I will be doing more often from now on.

After thinking the event through I noticed some things I could have done better. I should have used Kulturhuset as a vantage point to photograph the crowd down on Sergels torg and it’s lower entrance to get direct access to the square for some shots on the speakers. There is a staircase on Sergelgatan that also could have been used to access the square. I don’t know why I completely forgot about these places during the demonstration but that doesn’t matter now. What is important is that I gained experience and learned from my mistakes.

By Skoge Farman

I am a street photographer based north of Stockholm.

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