A Woman Who Doesn't March Attends the Women's March

An account of a woman who attended the Women's March in New York City.

I’m going to be honest: I typically avoid events, protests, and marches. Frankly, I don’t know enough about politics, the government, or social issues to give a clear opinion on what I believe is right or wrong. I’ve never been someone who’s had a powerful voice when discussing controversial topics and it’s always been an insecurity of mine. My absence from these events does not mean I do not care about the issues at hand and I have the utmost respect for any person who publicly and physically fights for and alongside others. Although I usually avoid these protests and marches, I attended and documented the 2018 Women’s March in New York City - alone.

I try to carry around my Olympus 35mm film camera everywhere I go - I like to shoot freely; documentary, street, and lifestyle photography is my focus at the moment. I woke up like any other day on January 20th, 2018. But I was not about to have any other day. I hadn’t planned on going to the march that Saturday morning, which fits the description of myself above. (not surprising from the background I just gave on myself). Sitting in my apartment, doing nothing, I remembered how I regretted not going to the march last year. With my camera and an extra roll of film in hand, I left determined to attend the Women’s March of 2018.

Considering this was my first march ever and I was alone, I thought I would feel a lot more out of place than I did. Once I began shooting, I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. The feeling of community and empowerment I felt while documenting the march was something I wasn’t prepared for, but welcomed with open arms. There was so much hope, pride, and love in the air that steadily filled my own lungs with each passing moment.

The photographs I took from that day represent a crucial moment in history. I have photographs to not only show that I was there, but that I was apart of this movement. I hope that my photographs from the Women’s March of 2018 will deeply affect generations to come, not only in their witnessing of the past, but to tightly grasp their own potential to fight for what they believe is right. Documenting such strong emotion and community in events like these pushes me to continue to photograph and only further strengthens my love for photography. Although I am not confident speaking about controversies, my photographs speak for me, each worth more than 1,000 words. Attending the march even without my camera would have completely shifted my perspective on the situation, but now I have photographs to remember that shift and share it with the world.

Olivia Montalto is a Junior Photography at Parsons School of Design in New York City. You can see the rest of her photos from her experience at the 2018 NYC Women's March here.

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