Gateshead photographer’s journey through Palestinian protests

Written by on 19th April 2024

One powerful tool has emerged to document the plight of the Palestinian people: photography. As the world grapples with watching a genocide on their phones, photographers are wielding their cameras as instruments of truth and advocacy. 

Since the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel, the Gaza Strip also known as the world’s largest open prison has over 30,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli Occupied Forces. Ever since, there has been a global outcry with many ordinary citizens, humanitarian activists and well-known public figures urging their governments to bring a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Scott Smith, 34, a photographer and banking professional, shares his experiences in photography and travel. He said: “I’ve been doing photography since I was six years old.  

“My grandfather was a photographer of car rallies, and my father was a photographer. So, I picked up a camera from an early age and have been photographing ever since.” 

Smith of Gateshead, captures protest emotions through photography, feeling it’s a way to give back. He said: “ I feel with photography I can give life to the protest.  

Palestinian Protest in Newcastle captured by Scott Smith

Palestinian Protest in Newcastle captured by Scott Smith

“I felt that was something that I had to give; it was a skill that I have so I should use it for the benefit of the cause and always make sure they share the photos I take so they can get out to a wider audience so that people can see what we’re doing. 

“It’s about us peacefully asking for a ceasefire and the end of oppression of people who have been oppressed for their whole lives.” 

Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Smith has been attending the Pro-Palestinian movement ever since October 9th, 2023, by using photography to raise awareness about the Palestinian genocide, emphasising the importance of reaching a wider audience. Photography has been a critical role in shedding light on the Gaza genocide, and the voices that demand justice and compelling action on a global scale. 

He said: “On day two, October the 9th, we had an emergency vigil at the monument, and I came out. That was the first time I came out in Newcastle for anything Palestinian related.  

“But I came out because I thought this is going to be bad; and we’ve seen that it is. I looked around and I saw the photos that came out of other people afterwards and I felt that they didn’t convey enough of the emotions that I was seeing and feeling at the time.  

Scott Smith, photographs protestor

Scott Smith, photographs protestor

So, I decided to bring my own camera out and capture that, and the interactions you get with people speaking and interacting with each other on the street were fantastic. So, it was my way to give back – I’m not someone who’sgoing to stand up and give a speech at any point.” 

Amina Shafiq, 25, the Social Media Manager of Newcastle Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’s Instagram and Facebook page, said: “Running social media for a dynamic social movement with ever-changing social media trends where short-form video is everywhere, having strong static posts remains fundamental to ensuring our feed is powerful and shares our message and community at a mere glance.   

“Scott’s photos do this so well, particularly when he curates his own posts (which we accept collaborations on), where he uses his own voice within captions to tell a story that marries with the photos that he has selected.   

Scott Smith, photographs protestors

Scott Smith, photographs protestors

“When I choose Scott’s photos to make my own post, I always know that I’ll be able to powerfully summarise the atmosphere of a demonstration suitably – whether this is through action shots of the crowd, photos of passionate speakers, shots of solemn audience members or a hard-hitting placard.” 

Smith highlights the power of photography in capturing moments of protest and resistance, and the need to keep showing up to ensure that the message is heard. He said: “I have lots of people who see my photos who are looking for things from the event. 

“There are lots of people that I know who I see all the time, and they comment. My colleagues at work spoke to me about the photos I have posted.  

“My friends who maybe haven’t been capable of speaking about it with other people felt willing to speak to me about it, because I posted. It’s that ability to reach out to an audience that wouldn’t necessarily be looking for it is what I feel that I can give to it. 

“While also the audience that are looking for it are looking to see what’s happening, because maybe they had worked that day and couldn’t make it to that protest, and they wanted to see what were people doing that day? What was it like? What did I miss out on?  

Scott Smith photographs moments from Pro-Palestine protest

Scott Smith photographs moments from Pro-Palestine protest

“Seeing people still showing up makes me want to keep showing up so as much as possible is captured, so that they can see we’re not going anywhere. The numbers have dropped from October the 14th with the largest crowd you could probably see in Newcastle at any point.  

“The numbers have dropped since then, but for the last three months, they’ve been consistent, and the photos that I take will show that they will surely get consistent numbers now. We’re here until this genocide stops and I want that to be the message that always goes out to everyone. And that’s what I want my photography to do.” 

In addition, Smith said: “Free Palestine!” 

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