Duncan Hill


I arrived at the scene and made my way to the front of the action. Protesters were inching closer to the hotel where the annual Conservative Political Action Conference was being held. A small army of DC police guarded the Marriott Wardman Park’s entrances, though they were outnumbered. When the crisp winter air could no longer hold the tension, an episode of chaos ensued. Pushed and pulled in the midst of the clash between protesters and police, I lifted my camera above the crowd to capture the melee. Then came the punch of a police shield. I explained that I was just a photographer, but the officer continued to push with his shield and threatened arrest. In this moment I realized that to this cop, my camera was a weapon. A weapon with the power to wound pride, spur mounds of paperwork, or even end careers. This burly, mustachioed police officer, equipped with boots, a badge, a shield, and baton, was afraid of my camera. For the first time, I saw that before a photograph has the chance to influence, the camera has power.