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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

The Beatles 40-year Abbey Road album anniversary – the rise of the citizen photographers

The first thing that struck me when I arrived to find Beatle mania in full swing at Abbey Road today was not the wacky costumes or the people striking poses on the zebra crossing with no shoes on, but it was the paparazzi huddle.

The huddle has been infiltrated by “citizen photographers”. It was fascinating to watch the unwritten rule of ‘pros only’ being unashamedly broken. I’ll give you a few examples. When a fan held an original LP of the Abbey Road album up for a professional photographer to get an artistic shot of, there was the usual rush as several other professional photographers cottoned on. But then, completely unexpected, there was a second mass rush of citizen photographers who joined the huddle to have a go at getting the shot as well. The result was a hysterical manic mess. There were about fifty people all around this one guy like he had suddenly been promoted to A-list celebrity status. Then once they had got some form of shot – I am dubious of the quality of some shots – they calmed down and dispersed. But this was not the last time this happened.
When 11.30am crept round there was a scheduled re-enactment of the Abbey Road album cover by four Beatles impersonators. The professional photographers were flanked by a mass of mobile camera phones and semi-professional cameras all desperate to get the same shot as the professionals. Everyone had one. It was incredible. At one point, the man impersonating Ringo Starr had to say: “Calm down everyone, you do realise we are not the real thing, don’t you?.”

There were even some citizen photographers clamoring on the statues copying the professionals who were gaining height by using step ladders.

Everyone now seems to want their professional shot. And with semi-professional quality cameras becoming more and more affordable and sites like Flickr becoming more popular this phenomenon can only grow.

Citizen journalists move over. Now it is time for the era of citizen photographers.


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