As LGBT History Month approaches, Deputy Head Boy Will Mellor reflects on his experience as a photographer for last year’s Pride event in Birmingham and urges us all to push ourselves out of our comfort zones so we can learn more about ourselves – and other people.
As we all know the Covid pandemic has affected each one of us in different ways. For me the lockdowns and restrictions has driven me to push myself out of my comfort zone and begin to explore other avenues within my passion of media. For me in September I had the privilege of being an event photographer for Birmingham Pride event. This festival is one of the biggest and most important within the UK, attracting over 75,000 people to the streets of Birmingham to celebrate LGBTQ+ achievements and to promote a safe space where our community can express themselves without fear or prejudice.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous on the train heading into Birmingham. I had personally never been to a Pride event. Neither had I had much experience with street photography. As an amateur photographer, I am always looking for ways to tell a story through the images I capture and, from the second I stepped off the train, there was an array of colours lining Grand Central and hundreds of people on the platforms heading to the celebration. There were many things that amazed me this day but the community feeling was what stood out to me the most: there was a overall feeling of joy and happiness that seemed to be infectious. You couldn’t help but smile at all the people around you. This immediately put me at ease and my real enjoyment of the day started here. From Grand Central I joined the many brightly-clothed people heading to the parade route.
Upon reaching the route I set about finding a vantage point to best capture the parade. This proved challenging as I wanted to capture multiple angles and views. As I was at one of my positions another photographer joined me. We chatted about our backgrounds and as I confessed that I was only an amateur he decided to take me under his wing. This was because he was one of the professional event photographers coving the parade for a newspaper. Throughout the day he showed me around the parade route and many ways of looking at the event through a camera lens. I was successfully able to capture thousands of photos, each portraying their own story.
I came away from the parade with a much greater appreciation and understanding of photography. I also have a better understanding of how a community can pull together to celebrate and support each other. The skills and emotions I experienced on this day will live with me forever and contribute to my development both as an artist and as a member of society. I would fully encourage people to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and continue to be “stronger together” (2021’s Pride theme).
Below are some great links where you can read more about the Pride festival and more about the local LGBTQ+ community.