Pride in London – photographer Katy Blackwood on working with Wikimedia UK

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan with Pride organisers (Photo by Katy Blackwood CC BY-SA 4.0)

My name is Katy Blackwood. I’m a music photographer, fledgling photo-journalist and writer that has been published in print, worked as a professional and, on Saturday, donated her time and photographs to Wikimedia UK in the name of knowledge and free content.

The event was Pride in London, an occasion surely close to the heart of anybody that values equality, inclusivity and solidarity, whether they are LGBT or not. In such a divisive week for the United Kingdom, it brought together an estimated one-million people to celebrate humans of all cultures and sexualities, highlighted by a triumphant parade.

Working with Wikimedia UK, I attended as a member of the media in order to create high-quality photography of the parade and its build-up. These photos, including some by John Lubbock, have now been released under a licence that allows them to be used, for free, by anyone.

The idea of giving away photographs for free is an alien, even abhorrent concept for the vast majority of professional photographers. ‘It’ll be great exposure’ is a phrase that embodies everything that is wrong with the media and arts today, that our work is not worth paying for. Credit doesn’t pay the bills, and thousands of pounds of camera equipment doesn’t pay for itself.

Naturally, I had my doubts about shooting for Wikimedia. The idea came up last year, as a possible opportunity for me to contribute to Wikipedia again for the first time since I was a teenage girl. Lapsed editors such as myself are common, but unlike then, I now have a professional skill – and felt I could contribute by using it.

The idea of specifically shooting at Pride in London was a more recent development. The issues that Pride highlights – discrimination, homophobia, xenophobia and exclusion to name a few – are fought mostly by non-profit groups and activist blogs.

We wanted to create photographs that allow such causes and bloggers to illustrate their content with high-quality visuals, for use under CC BY-SA 4.0, requiring attribution to myself but otherwise free for use as desired.

Beyond the philanthropy, I am also hoping that my work with Wikimedia UK will be an opportunity to show what I can do as a photographer in new environments. It’s a chance for me to build relationships and see my work used widely. For my ambitions in the field of photo-journalism, Wikimedia’s influence is invaluable, and we are hoping to open doors that will allow me to further my career while volunteering.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as their Ab Fab characters open Pride (Photo by Katy Blackwood CC BY-SA 4.0)

We’re keen to follow-up our success at Pride in London with coverage of other significant events this summer and beyond into 2017. We’re exploring the possibility of working with the UK Parliament to improve Wikipedia’s photographs of politicians and the political process, and we’re hoping to attend more major events as well.

We are hoping that more photographers will come forward to contribute to these exciting projects. Wikimedia UK has expenses available for travel and accommodation, and is keen to support anyone looking to create high-quality images so long as they are happy to release them under a free licence. Please also reach out to us with suggestions of events and topics that we should cover in the future.

I am, fittingly, proud of my work on Saturday – and I hope you like my photographs too. You can check out just my own photos in this category, and I’d love to hear how you use them (you can reach me at katy@katyblackwood.co.uk). You can also view all of our free-to-use photographs from Pride in London 2016 in this category.

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