Andy Kropa


Wall street protesters sleep off an all night event as some head for the office

photograph by Andy Kropa

This photograph was made last week in my New York loft workshop as part of an essay on Wall Street. Andy was one of three photographers in class last week to take on the protesters of capitalism. This picture makes almost theatrical the look of a very compelling news event.

41 thoughts on “Andy Kropa – Protest”

  1. Very nice technically, but what does it tell us about what’s going on over there? I’m not saying there’s not a good answer to that question, Andy, just asking…

  2. this photograph captures so well the drama unfolding at wall street; it says more about the scene and the forces in the field — the traders scurrying through the sleeping encampment says it all.

  3. I don’t know, Imants, I’d be more inclined to hazard that while opponents of capitalism sleep, capitalists are off to work.

  4. Exactly! you have the contrast and the irony of this theatrical and sad thing going on right now… What’s even funny is that the face of the guy sleeping is almost identical to the faces of the wall street guys going to work. And the shot is totally awesome!!!

  5. Like I stated capitalism is to be replaced by sleep…… use protesting if you have nothing to replace the existing structure

  6. Michael: I suppose both ‘sides’ will see exactly what they would like to have confirmed. Photographs can be comforting like that — and challenging at the same time, depending on attitude and perspective.

  7. I have no problem with the protesters or the message they are supporting. I think it is admirable.


    “this photograph captures so well the drama unfolding at wall street; it says more about the scene and the forces in the field — the traders scurrying through the sleeping encampment says it all.”

    Just because these people are walking though a park two blocks north of Wall Street, does NOT mean they are traders. Other people do work in New York, even that close to Wall St.

    And “scurrying?” Give me a break.

  8. Cool shot. Andy must have been thrilled to realize using off-camera flash allowed him to increase his depth-of-field, slow down the shutter to capture ambient light, and not have to bother turning up the ISO dial to those noisy levels. The shutter-dragging technique adds a sense of motion here which is very effective.

    A+ !!!!

  9. PETE…

    ok Pete, they are not “scurrying” perhaps and maybe just maybe these office workers are not traders… is that really all you can think or write about this picture? a critique of a comment by another commentator? dude, please… are at heart a newspaper photographer and editor…this is a basic news picture…

    honestly i just do not see how you can make a denigrating comment to another commentator about how she sees the picture and have nothing to say to the photographer Andy, when for sure you would surely die to have made this picture yourself or publish it if you were selecting for your newspaper…ok, i will re-phrase….i would die to have made this picture myself and i did publish it in my newspaper…


    yes, exactly..i honestly had seen no picture in the mainstream press better than this of the protesters camping out..Andy had several more using this technique as well….this would work very well as a large print…

  10. There are a variety of groups among the protesters. The old left has come out, exited to find people who might listen to them. Then there’s the burning man types who like to camp out, dress up, party, and freak out the straights. There are a few young people waving the communist manifesto or some such, but I figure they are mostly FBI agents or provocateurs. A few tea party dweebs are there trying to convince the hippies that all would be well if capitalism were not fettered. But most seem to be well educated young people who care about society and have very concrete ideas on how to repair the current system. Something along the lines of European democracies or the U.S. before the coup in 2000. It’s not so much about capitalism as it is about democracy and rule of law. Since the coup, the U.S. has become an oligarchy with few laws that constrain its oligarchs, the most powerful of which are banks and corporations, which are people according to the supreme court.

  11. I have no problem with the photo. It is fine. Stunning? I don’t feel that way, but I also don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I am probably not a fan because I don’t use flash in a news situation unless I absolutely have to do so to make an exposure. Personal preference. Fancy fill flash lighting is a gimmick to me. I prefer images that are crafted with thought and patience by a photographer using what he/she is presented with. And I am speaking only about news photography now.

    So basically, I felt no real need to comment on the image, and I would have not commented at all if people could avoid making assumptions about things that may or may not be true.

    For a group that is supposed to be so loose and open-minded, sometimes the comments here are so far left they sound like the right, just from the other perspective.

    And I swear, if you continue to pigeonhole me into a “newspaper” category simply because I have worked for 3 newspapers, you and I are going to have it out. I know you are not putting newspaper photographers in a bad light. You were once one yourself.

    I am quite honored to have worked in newspapers. Some of the best photojournalism is done by newspaper photographers. You cannot win the Pulitzer unless the image was in a newspaper. But this does not define me any more than calling you a magazine photographer defines you.

    I am a photojournalist. I will shoot for newspapers, magazines, wire services or anyone else that pays the bills and I don’t have a moral conflict with.

    As a good friend of mine likes to say.. “You need a picture of two dogs fucking? Im your guy.”

    “denigrating comment” — please…. just correcting someone for a bit of over-dramitization and assuming facts not in evidence.

  12. AKAKY: Don’t…just don’t.

    AKAKY IRL: Come on, this is just too easy.

    AKAKY: No. I don’t ask for much, but this time I’m putting my foot down. Zip it.

    AKAKY IRL: Suit yourself then.

  13. it says to me that we are all soilders in our own individual wars and the dividing line between the protester asleep on the ground and the office workers walking by is nothing more than circumstance.

  14. Pretty compelling. Split along the diagonal – at right you have an etiquette stressed by subdued color and the single-file in-step march, with the tilted horizon giving the impression of the workers being compelled through the frame. The left side is an absence of niceties but has the arresting flash of brighter color, and this time the forced angle emphasizes the fatigue.

    It makes a good job of the tension between conformity and protest. The flash gives it all an ominous air as much as anything. It looks like it was six feet or so to the side – was it held by an assistant?


    IT SPREADS Fast..very fast

    WE staRted WAKING UP OVER HERE TOO!!!!!!!!
    thanks to the P.I.I.G.S (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain)
    thank u for uncovering Wall Street!
    now its our(America’s time) turn to help!

    from NYT today:
    “…The rock in question is the one associated with Gov. Rick Perry .

    The day after The Washington Post reported that Mr. Perry had once hunted at and taken guests to a hunting camp that had the name ” Niggerhead ” painted on a rock at the entrance…”

  16. great photo btw..
    i also like Pete never use flash but in this photo above it is so wonderful the way it balances the composition..
    it almost makes me wanna go buy a flash/strobe!!!!!!!!!!
    great photo

  17. Pretty original photo and without doubt the best I’ve seen in the newspapers on this subject which BTW is sparse. Seems everyone is stepping on tiptoes on this subject, the usual bullshit. However I fully agree with Imants, no doubt most are honest protesters but no real solutions brought forward.

  18. Andrew, no relation to the great Ralph Steiner I suspect?

    MW,, probably a fair reading on the folks involved in the protest. It is un-fortunate that the flake/fringe element tend to attract the attention of the media, especially the right leaning media. It makes it too easy to dismiss the focus of the event which is frustration and anger at the system.

  19. It was fun to watch Andy’s essay evolve. He would throw up a bunch of flash-shot pictures and at first you wouldn’t see much. David would start to tell him how he was just missing the concept of using flash, that he wasn’t getting it and then, all of a sudden, he would stop – because there would be a stunner, excellently composed, wonderfully lit. And the amazing thing was all the photos that were excellently composed were also well lit and the ones that were not well-lit were not that greatly composed.

    But when the image mattered, soft-spoken, quiet, all-around-nice-guy Andy came through on all accounts.

    I just arrived back in Alaska. I have not yet blogged my Loft experience with Andy, Edite and the remainder of the dozen, but I will.

  20. Oh! you’re frostfrog ….the clues just came together -mystery solved. who knew I lived with the frog all week, not me haha :) can’t wait to see all your beautiful images of the kibbutz.

    & congrats Andy! On this one and the whole essay.

  21. Went by the protest again just now. Man, that thing is really growing! A couple days ago there couldn’t have been more than 50 or 60 photographers there. Now there must be upwards of 200. And they’re really starting to piss people off.

  22. Regarding the makeup of the crowd, not counting photographers, what I said above remains pretty accurate. Most everyone I speak with is quite well educated. It makes you wonder if the NYT and others who have printed those “protesters know squat about what they’re protesting stories” have an agenda or what. I’m sure it wouldn’t be all that difficult to find someone there to interview who doesn’t know much, but you’d have to try, and meanwhile ignore just about everything else going on around.

  23. mw “It makes you wonder if the NYT and others who have printed those “protesters know squat about what they’re protesting stories” have an agenda or what.”

    oh there’s no question

  24. Political Animals: Why Some Stray Dogs Have Joined the Greek Riots

    The protesters want change; dogs are designed to help them.

    Published on May 20, 2010 by Lee Charles Kelley in My Puppy, My Self

    Harry Truman said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” In modern Athens, though, some of the dogs themselves have become political animals.

    In the Greek capital, any dogs found roaming the streets are taken in, neutered, and given vaccinations. Then they’re outfitted with a blue collar, denoting their “stray” status, and released back into the city where they sleep peacefully on the streets, sidewalks, and even at the Parthenon, where they’ve become something of a tourist attraction .

    Greece has been rocked recently by violent protests over the government’s “austerity program1.” And some of the city’s stray dogs have now seemingly joined the rioters, perhaps in a show of solidarity.

    The AP reports : “Photographers have documented the presence of several yellowish dogs at boisterous anti-government protests over the years, barking and baring their teeth at police in what appears to be canine political statements. One, Kanellos … was a constant companion for over a decade to anarchist rioters until he died, in July 2008.”

    Kanellos still has his own Facebook page , with 10,000+ fans and a song dedicated to him. According to the New York Post , one fan asked, “What brings him to the riots? Does he believe in the overthrow of private ownership? Does he see the rioters as his pack?”

    Since not all the stray dogs in Athens have joined the protesters, and since we don’t have enough details on how the two or three dogs who have are behaving, it’s a mistake to try and draw any conclusions about all canine behavior from this phenomenon. Nevertheless, whenever we come upon a unique, naturally-occurring behavior in dogs (i.e., one that happens spontaneously and isn’t induced in a laboratory experiment designed to prove how “smart” dogs are), it gives us an opportunity to examine whether the current models of behavior can satisfactorily explain the anomaly.

    The Pack Leader Perspective.
    We’re told by alpha theorists that dogs have a deeply-embedded instinct to obey a strong authority figure, or alpha male. If that instinct were holding true in Athens, wouldn’t the dogs be obeying the police, and not siding with the protesters? And if these dogs see the protesters as alpha males, which is possible, I suppose – as long as you ignore the fact that dogs can’t think conceptually or symbolically – then why are these animals acting in such a highly independent manner? They never look to the rioters for cues on how to behave. No one is telling them what to do. They just show up on their own and do whatever they feel like.

    The Behavioral Science Explanation.
    Behavioral scientists would tell us that the dogs’ behaviors are being reinforced. “It doesn’t matter what the reinforcement is,” they would tell us. “If it’s a learned behavior, then there must be some form of reinforcement taking place.” Yet according to the AP, the dogs “are very frightened when riot police use stun grenades.” If the dogs still attend these demonstrations, despite such strong aversive experiences, what could be so reinforcing for them?

    The Dog-as-Predator, Police-as-Prey Theory.
    Both the alpha theory and operant conditioning have lost much of their sheen in the scientific community recently, if not in the dog training world. For the alpha theory this may be due, in part, to the fact that wolves who live near garbage dumps don’t form packs. And since coyotes sometimes do, but only when they need to hunt large prey, pack formation is now seen as a function of prey size, nothing more.

    Still, we usually think of prey as running for their lives. In this case, the police are standing their ground and moving toward, not away from, the protesters. They’re also firing tear gas and stun guns at them. Still, in most cases the police are more passive in nature (a prey-like quality), while the protesters are more animated. Could this be the answer?

    An Energy Theory.
    As most readers know, I’m a proponent of an energy theory of behavior; one that states that all canine behavior and learning can be described through some very simple principles of energy, such as attraction and resistance, and tension and release. Are these dogs feeling the tension in the streets, and trying to find a way to release their own tension? This seems plausible. But why are these dogs so attracted to the protesters?

    The Darwinian Perspective.
    Since evolution is a continuous process, could we find an answer to the puzzle here? If so, perhaps the following syllogism might explain things:

    1) Evolution is a process of change, where overall tendency is for simpler forms evolve into those that are more complex. 2) The complexity of modern human culture is the result of evolutionary changes, some of which came about because of our close relationship with domesticated dogs. 3) Since the goal of the protesters is to implement change, and the goal of the government is to resist it, dogs are acting as agents for change/evolution.

    The Freudian Perspective.
    Sigmund Freud’s ideas on consciousness were derived, in part, from Darwin’s theory. I’ve written a few articles here explaining why I think Freud is relevant to understanding dogs, in part because the human/canine bond is a reflection of the Freudian dynamic of the Id and Ego, i.e., the dog’s owner acts as a governing mechanism for the dog’s wildest impulses2. I also wrote an article explaining how I think dogs are capable of sensing our desires and acting on them. With all this in mind:

    1) Human consciousness operates via two energetic mechanisms, the Id and the Ego, a dynamic that can also be seen in how dogs relate to their owners. 2) Every society has its own Id (the unrestrained impulses of its people) and Ego (a government designed to keep a lid on the aggressive energies of its citizens). 3) Since dogs are almost pure Id, they gravitate more toward the side of the anarchists than to the police.

    Quite frankly, we may not have enough data to come to any solid conclusions about why the “riot dogs” have joined the protesters. Still, it’s clear that the old ways of looking at canine behavior and learning, fall terribly short in explaining what’s going on.

    In my article, “Why Do Dogs Like to Kiss Us?” I said that a wolf makes a living with his teeth while a dog makes a living with his heart. On the face of it, this sounds like a feel-good homily you’d find stitched on a pillow at a doggie boutique. But it’s actually true. In order to be accepted into our homes dogs had to sublimate their urge to bite into pro-social behaviors, just as anyone living in a civilized society has to sublimate their aggression to avoid being ostracized or sent to jail. And while no dog has the mental capacity to understand what it means to submit to a human being’s superior rank or status, neither does any dog have the ability to not submit to our wishes and desires, even when we’re unaware that we’re communicating those things to our dogs.

    The protesters want change. Dogs are designed to help them out.

  25. Yea, that picture was in the Daily News the other morning too, though not nearly as well lighted. There are so many photographers down there, they often have to line up and take turns to get pictures of people sleeping or brushing their teeth in the morning or eating a slice and if some poor guy happens to pick his nose, he’s quickly surrounded by at least five photojournalists taking his picture and a couple camera crews with an intrepid reporter asking him how it feels. It’s a sick, ugly scene, photojournalism-wise.

  26. Always nice to see the work from the participants from the workshops. Nice to see someone trying to bring a new perspective to an event that is now swarming with photographers.

    I’ve been going down there as well. And as Michael Webster says, some photographers are just crawling over each other to make pictures….

  27. I’m Andy, the photographer of this image. I was thrilled to have my photo posted here and then to see all the comments following it. I wanted to respond to some of them but had some difficulty with registering when I tried to leave a comment earlier this week.

    I wasn’t trying to say something as simple as the protesters sleep as other people, “capitalists” if you want, go to work. Although that’s a true statement of something that happens at the protest if you go early in the morning, it’s more a function of the two groups being on different schedules than of some people being lazy and some people being hard workers. When the workers downtown are knocking off for a beer at 5, the demonstrators are fully in their element marching, chanting, drumming and meeting for hours after dark. The point of the photo for me is more that through present circumstances, and through the camera’s frame, these different types of people are now forced to share the same space and have their different worlds meet.

    Technically, I used a Canon wireless transmitter to the flash which was on a bench across the path from me, on the plastic shoe the flash comes with.

    Taking David’s class was a hugely important step for me in developing my photography. In one week the class re-instilled a lot of the excitement I felt very early on as a photographer, and gave me the drive to always try to do better. I’ve been returning to the Wall Street protests throughout the week, some photos from Friday at the occupation are on my blog here:

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