What role should photographers play at protests?

Jeremy Jeffs has spent years capturing a huge variety of protests, and he believes photographers are critical to documenting the changing state of democracy and holding power to account

Pro-Brexit, anti-Brexit, Black Lives Matter (BLM), climate change, anti-vax – you name the movement, and photographer Jeremy Jeffs has probably photographed one of its protests. “I’d started during Brexit, and shot a project based entirely in Parliament Square just looking at the identity of a huge variety of different protests happening,” Jeffs tells CR, of his long-standing fascination with the topic.

“When lockdown happened, and there was a wave of protests that arose, starting with the way BLM was policed with and dealt with in the press, I felt this was something very different. There seemed to be a new tactic that the legislation that was introduced for Covid measures was being used as a way of stopping protest, and shutting it down. I thought, I just need to get out there and see what happens and take pictures.”

Jeffs, who is also a documentary filmmaker, has collected many of these images together in his new book, entitled We Do Not Consent and published by Fistful of Books. The imagery was shot at over 25 protests held in London between 2020 and 2021, including the vigil for Sarah Everard – who was murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens in 2021 – as well as BLM and Extinction Rebellion meetings.