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John Gladdy

Speakers Corner


Hyde Park Corner, London, England.
Every Sunday since at least 1872.

Between 2009 and 2012 I became a part of the ongoing street theatre that is Speakers Corner.

Graduating, slowly but surely, from detached photographic voyeur to fully-fledged participant/heckler/occasional bit player.

I have joined a cast of thousands that have come to this place to express their views, however controversial or off the wall, over the last hundred or so years. Religion is the current hot topic, especially Islam, but over the years the area has attracted notable political and human rights activists including Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and William Morris and still hosts a very lively Marxist forum and a selection of anarchist, conservative and socialist speakers.

This piece, as it stands, is not intended to answer any big questions or reveal any deep insight into the reasons people attend this place. I am not sure I am even qualified to ask those sorts of questions. I hope only in some small way to take you on a little sensory wander around the place. A selection of tapas if you like.




John Gladdy (b. 1964) is an English photographer living in London.

He has no formal qualifications having been expelled from high school and no formal training as a photographer. He discovered he had a talent for image making while working with the photographer Brett Walker on a community project in 2003.

He came to photography very late in life and has worked his way back from initially using automated digital equipment to now using mainly fully manual film based equipment in a variety of formats. He processes and prints his own work, wherever possible using traditional darkrooms and materials.

His portrait work is held by collectors all over the world. He is currently resting in London trying to overcome heart problems and looks forward to being well enough to travel again and find a new project.

Started at 45 years old this is his first attempt at a long form photo essay.


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John Gladdy


60 thoughts on “john gladdy – speakers corner”

  1. Unfortunately, it wasn’t watchable over my DSL. Checked that other Vimeo videos were playing fine and they were, but this would kept pausing and ultimately wouldn’t play.

  2. Congratulations John!
    It works really well…

    The sound and overlying text caught me by surprise though and it took me a few seconds to get into the rhythm of this piece (second viewing was much better). You have argued many times for the purity of the standalone picture, and even thought I quite agree with you on one level, this presentation of your Speakers Corner is by far the best you’ve showed us. Context and additional layers (like sound) can add even to a set of really good pictures—and you do have some really great ones here…

    Wish you get better soon man…

  3. “I go down to Speaker’s Corner I’m thunderstruck
    They got free speech, tourists, police in trucks
    Two men say they’re Jesus one of them must be wrong
    There’s a protest singer singing a protest song”.

  4. Damn, John – you make me want to go to Hyde Park and shout out On the corner myself.

    This one got me so wrapped up in the people, the atmosphere, the emotions, feeling and conflict that I forgot all abou

  5. “… that I forgot all abou … t the photography.”

    Actually I had a similar experience. The impact of the recorded voices and the visual text are so strong that I barely noticed the photos themselves on the first viewing. Had to go back and watch it again specifically to see the photos, which are quite good, occasionally great. So as a “multimedia” (sic) piece, it is quite effective… as a vehicle for showing photos, maybe a bit less so. Makes me think about how to balance music, text, photos, and voice in my own modest little slideshows.

    Overall, very nice work, John. I also enjoyed “Piano” (which is so apropos a friend’s situation that I immediately sent him the link) and “Satie Montage 2.”

  6. BILL. SIDNEY. Once it became clear that this was only going to really work online as a multimedia piece I had no real problems with the images intruding less overall. It had to do exactly what it did for you guys for it to work and that meant using the individual elements to form a whole rather than as a scaffold to show off one thing. I am very pleased with it for what it is and I believe it does what it was set up to do.


  7. Congrats John!
    For the pictures, I think they are great!
    For the soundtrack, which matches wonderfully with the pictures and it takes me there.
    For letting burn publish you, finally. :)

    Really, really great. Well done!

  8. Great stuff John runs out of steam image wise towards the end, “I will not speak” image unnecessary sorta runs out of kilter scale wise.

  9. Nice work, John.

    My one critique is that I found the images,generally, a bit to ‘quiet’ as compared to
    the energy and passion of the audio.
    I liked both components but felt a bit of a disconnect with their interplay.

  10. Yea, this is a bit choice coming from Mister The Individual Photo is Everything and Everything Else Sucks, but I guess a story about Speakers Corner without speakers would be something akin to a piece in which a photographer talks about his or her photos but doesn’t show any. Not particularly effective. This kind of illustrates the inherent challenge of the form though, to the extent it’s, as Sydney says, not so effective for showcasing photos. A bit lost somewhere between a straight up TV journalism piece and a more abstract kind of art. Not so sure you should have surrendered, John. At least not in quite that manner. But, it was probably wise to get it out there and move on. And you did it well. The photos are showcased effectively. They were a bit subsumed by the motion and noise on the first viewing, but with repetition I found that it was the images that resonated after the show was over. So quibbles here and there, but ultimately very nice work. Long-winded way of saying congrats. And best wishes, health wise…

  11. strong work…
    the audio is brilliant…
    and I love how the images are so light
    filled with hope…..
    I think this would be perfect for the BIG screen….
    Is there any way to project it in the park?
    I also liked how you added your text, I found it very effective….
    These images are so much lighter in feeling, for me,
    than your previous work….
    I have to ask, what kind of audio equipment did you use?
    to you…..

  12. Roberta Tavares

    hey John…
    When i saw your name at the front page I knew that I couldnt expect nothing less than what you are showcasinghere. I was curious and anxious when you would be published cause I strongly believed that your images would carry many pecularities of your personality: strong, austute with the message and way to communicate, authentic enough to be remembered as John Gladdys signature. I wasn’t wrong and that’s the reason I was so excited going to Burn page today. Thanks for putting all together and finding a formula, a language to make it all work. Take yourself care, Jonh… and the best I can wish to your heart

  13. IMANTS. I agree about the scale issue of that image, it is a very tight shot, but i did like how it helped to slow down and ‘close’ the piece off.

    WENDY. The cheapest of the cheap..a FLIP camera. Unobtrusive, fits in the pocket, utterly lo-fi.

    MICHAEL WEBSTER. Did I surrender? It sure doesnt feel like I did. Give me a gallery space for these and its pictures all the way….but on the net it clearly didnt work how it needed to. So I tried real hard to find a way to make it work, in a way that I would be happy to stand by, and that would not in any way be a compromise. But also in a way that would hopefully have flavour and texture for the viewer.

    ROBERTA. I am so glad that you like it.

    ALL. Thanks for the heart support. Saw the final surgeon yesterday. tests all done. Slightly bigger surgery than I originally thought, but all signed up and on the list now. Should be under the knife in about 12 weeks. Good old national Health Service…NO CHARGE!

  14. My one critique is that I found the images,generally, a bit to ‘quiet’ as compared to
    the energy and passion of the audio.,,,,,,,,,,,,that’s the way these things are.Outside this environment they are just another person in the street here they are vocal giants

  15. John congrats for the publication! Love the sound more than images because I heard a lot more enthousiasm than images show me about Speakers Corner.
    The first minute of the essay remembered me Samuel Jackson speaking in Pulp Fiction about God, Jesus and the famous “passage” he memorized…

    Keep going, keep strong.

  16. JG:

    i watched it first with sound/images…and then 2nd time without the sound…and then a 3rd time with my eyes closed (and the images kept coming back to me, especially the ones that i felt were the most powerful and were less ‘document’ than beautiful cluster fuck….of course, i could listen to these guys chew up each other and themselves for ever (love the sound of voice and combat and insanity and reason and messy washed over selves, us) just as i wish, actually, there had been more more images too…i liked following the type, though also wanted it to mar the images too…and i have a slightly different take…i think awhile back you showed us a Dummy book version of this, am I right?…and there was much in that dummy that i loved…and actually, MM stuff (outside of filmmaking) often strikes me as limited and limiting (the silence of pictures is infinite, and the imagery of filmmaking is so as well, but when put together in a short piece of mm, often points to the failings of both when married, rather then the strength of both)….in other words, this is what i grave now from this work:

    A BOOK..a silent book…with all that abstracted text on a white page…so that i have twine the words to whatever image i want….and allows the strength of the comments/text to ring itself to the image without the force of the shortened presentation….AND a CD, long, accompanying the book…so that i can read/look in silence…or listen and look, or listen alone…

    i hope this doesn’t seem like a bastardization of John’s presentation…there is some strong pictures (i do like the ‘i will not speak’ shot, especially because it is visually in oppostion to all the pics) and of course the dynamic of the soundtrack and the choices is strong…but the limitation isnt JOHN’s, but is the format….and the more i see, the more this sticks to me…moving image and voice go well,…still image and moving image go well, and moving image/text/still image (as godard shows tirelessly) goes well…but there has to be something else …maybe long stretches of dialog without the photos, or silence etc…who knows…but, most importantly, i’m happy that john has got this bastard done and out there…

    and i do see this as a ‘multimedia’ book presentation…not as a 3 minute online thing….maybe its the power that i see here and the beautiful potential in all that (the pics, the words, the sounds) that i just want this to explode…

    John, i hope and trust this makes sense….for you, above many, i want nothing more than the fiery whole…

    hope you’re doing well!


    many thanks amigo for sticking it out on this process…i think the final result works…as Mike Webster says i think this particular subject requires a soundtrack for this particular venue…because i love hearing what these folks say, does not mean i do not like the individual pictures….it surely does not mean you have sacrificed anything…

    every venue is a different deal..a book is one thing, an exhibition another, a slideshow another…and this work can be shown in many different ways of course…one not detracting from the other….for sure you are still a single image maker…you also make films…great…and your expertise at both are shown here…

    i do hope all remember you were one of the first photographers published here on Burn and with strong single pictures…the man in the wheelchair still sticks in my mind as one of the great portrait pictures published here and was part of our original Burn slideshow…

    so this is simply another arrow in your quiver….

    i wish you good health John…and want this good health to take to your personal “next step” in evolving as a photographer…for sure the next we publish here of your work will be a totally different thing i am sure…this work, and with this track, really seems like John Gladdy to me…outspoken, irreverent, and caring very much about the world in which we live…this for sure is a mirror and a window both…

    big love, david

  18. John.. first, you better gotta get that heart of yours physically well.. as your heartheart IS! (that’s not a typo..)

    And I agree, this is the way to present this work on this platform.. like this is really works here to me… hope to see you soon, family and nerves permitting! Hugs!

  19. BOB. The fiery whole…is there ever anything else worth reaching for? And yes, I think I think I understand.

    DAVID. The thanks are all mine amigo. Thanks for not letting me off the hook, and thanks for getting me fired up enough to go back into the shed and redo and redo and redo, and thanks for being a constant, honest and unswerving friend.

    EVA. I promise to try. Anything you need in London that I can give is yours…you know that right??

  20. John Gladdy…
    Above all I find the images absolutely stunning and the idea of making an essay based on Speakers Corner highly original. Never seen any other essay on this place so that makes it highly fresh and something a little different from Gaza or some Eastern Block country. So brilliant!! I’m a great fan of your work in general and this is just as powerful and loaded with soul as all your best work, because there are no “bla bla” images here. This is the kind of work which makes want to get out now and do my stuff and manage something as heartfelt and full of authorship as this. I want to see this in a gallery one day, huge grainy BW images and I also want to see this as a book in my library with or without CD. Maybe I’ll manage to stop buying a couple of books for a few months and go up to the gallery owner, point at one of these images and tell him or her “I’ll take this one right now.”
    It was a pleasant surprise to see this as a multimedia video and even though I love this just as images and I don’t need anything else I must admit the soundtrack helps me really get stuck into this work as I’m awful at “reading” images, so all this sophistication helps me out. It really is as good as one of those Magnum podcasts, a real classy act.
    Oh and of course it’s highly inspiring to see another single image guy successfully accomplishing a whole essay with flying colours. Must feel so very fulfilling and so near to the top of the world dancing with white fluffy clouds hanging suspended over that awful crevasse which we are always trying to jump across with our art.
    Anyway all good stuff and now it’s time to get that heart of yours back into shiny working order because I want to sometime next year share a bottle of wine, or champagne or a couple of beers in some foreign city with Eva and you and talk non stop about photography, photographers, cameras, BW prints!

    Cheers Paul!

  21. Instagram facebook etc have pretty much as well taken over the domain of the single image held by the photographer as a professional in years gone by. New avenues are needed to be explored, those with film making and/or narrative creation experience are at a advantage

  22. John…

    nice one! at last we get to see… works very well, some great images.
    good use of mm… I would like to have seen more photos! i caught the previous (essay) in the few moments it was on-line and really enjoyed it, wondered why it vanished… so i found myself this time wanting (or expecting) to see some of those images… would make a nice book…

    but most importantly, wishing you good health

  23. IMANTS

    i lament the lack of single images on Burn….one of the last i can remember we used was yours from India….it is not that we won’t publish them, we just do not get them from anyone….BurnDiary may help change that some…things will change here soon…i think all the discussion about submissions and how it works just does not work for us anymore…i am going to do things different…frankly, i personally only think single images…yet at the same time do value the narrative form…stay tuned for next dialogue post…

    cheers, david

  24. Every now and then a single a day for six or seven days, would that be possible? David I also think single image but sort of end up stringing them together

  25. a civilian-mass audience


    I knew, you are Greek too…WE LOVE YOU JOHNYG!!!

    back to my aisle…

  26. As to the discussion about the still image/still photography, you guys are hilarious….and without sounding smug, a bit disconnected…as you-know-who once said:

    “The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”….

    sound a bit like those folk in the art world in the early 90’s who spoke of the death of painting…with the ascendancy of still photography and video art…or a generation ago, the death of the novel….

    like all expressions of self, outerself, the still image is no less vibrant than moving image/sound….and the vitality of the art book and the photography book is more exciting then ever…at least, in the world i inhabit…i see books/buy them, go to exhibitions, which challenge your assertions…a mix of all…still images, film, video, etc…and no internet, nor instagram, did not kill the still image…

    story telling is story telling…yes, a new amalgam is important and part of our lives now, of course, but you do sound a bit like chicken littles if you think that 1 form of expression is the only form now…

    so silly…

    and the web, which is yes, the skeleton of most of our waking lives now, it doesn’t prevent nor erradicate forms that both embrace and reject and supplant it…

    y’all need to look around a bit more, way pass the ‘mm’ stuff that clocks up most of the web…i just went to a brilliant show at our local art school that rechallenged the visual book…not a bit of video there….


  27. Bob sure there will be photographers and some that will still revere the stand alone image but to the general public which was the audience the role and importance has changed dramatically since the advent of the wwwdot world. I don’t really see anyone stating that it will die, but just as the role of the painting has changed in everyday lives since the advent of the photograph the net alters the image and its role

  28. Bob very few of the public go to a art school to get visual stimulation……….. lets not make the photographers world too small

  29. The majority, a great majority I would say, of photographers–even in this “wwwdot world”– still make their living from single imagery/still photography. Not multi-media.

  30. As I mentioned above, I like this presentation. A lot! I’ve done a couple multi-media things myself. (not nearly as well. but cool anyway) But what is this great advantage Imants speaks of? The suggestion that non multi-media pieces are somehow going the way of the ivorybilled woodpecker or that people with film making prowess have advantages of some sort doesn’t seem to square with what I see regularly around the web or of course in the analogue world.

  31. “it is not that we won’t publish them, we just do not get them from anyone…”

    You get them from me. I just assumed they were all too lousy for words and you were chucking them down the digital toilet. The computer’s probably sending them all, mine and several million other people’s, to the old Road Trips blog where no one would think of looking for them. ;-)

  32. John, I have been so wrapped up in my own situation I have not really kept up with the larger Burn discussion. I am glad you have your surgery scheduled and you know I will be pulling for you. Thank Goodness your country values the health of its people over the greed of corporate insurance executives shareholders! I have no idea how I am going to deal with the still untotaled but well into six figure medical debt I now bear.

  33. PAUL. Look forward to that.

    BILL. Wish there was something I could do to help man, seems unfair. Each new party in power over here dismantles a little bit more of the health system. Wont be too long before we have insurance based health care here too.

  34. The majority of farriers make their living from shoeing horses, but they are fewer in numbers …..the family photo is disappearing from the mantlepiece, framers are seeing their businesses decimated. photographers are vying for a smaller piece of the pie, local daily rags are disappearing along with the magazines, videos are taking a a larger role in the electronic news media etc etc
    I never stated that the stand alone image will disappear ……..some here must live in a small photographic centric world.

  35. Been to the ballet lately guys it has come a long way since being a interpretation of fencing performances are available live on the internet as well.

  36. In every day life the moving picture is king

    Perhaps, but it’s complicated. One could make a reasonable argument that people generally prefer to look at moving images, hence film and television are far more popular than newspapers and magazines these days. But Michael Kircher makes a good point that outside of television most of the pictures we see on a daily basis, both on the web and in the analog world, are still images. Websites and outdoor advertising are rife with still images. And considering these tend to be extremely commercial businesses, no doubt market research shows that still images continue to sell. I don’t know how representative of the general populace I am (usually not very), but I hate it when internet video pops up unbidden on a site and do everything I can to avoid it. Choice, however, is something else again and the fact that sites are integrating more and more video supports the notion that people like, if not prefer, moving images. YouTube is very, very popular.

    Image creation, however, is something else again. Everywhere I look, whether I’m in the big city or small town, I just about everybody is taking still photographs all the time. On my Facebook feed, I think my non-photographer friends post more images than the photographers. And I hear sites like Flikr are very popular as well.

    I suspect a big part of that has to do with required skills and technology. It’s very easy these days to snap a decent photo on your phone or camera. Viewing, printing, or uploading to the web requires no expensive software or super powerful computer. Changing the look with programs like Instagram is easy as pie.

    Video, on the other hand, is much more difficult. It requires more skill to capture decent video. Editing, even with a relatively simple program like IMovie, is much more difficult than applying simple manipulations to still images. Serious editing requires serious computing power and expensive, difficult to master, applications. Getting it in a viewable format requires all of the above plus arcane knowledge of codecs. Adding audio opens up a whole nother bag of worms. And then it requires decent bandwidth to view it.

    Of course these things are getting much easier. Computers are more powerful, services like YouTube ease the codec issues, but the camera will always need to be held steady and the pans will always need to be fluid and that will never be as easy as snapping a photo on the camera phone. So I think it’s safe to say that still images will rule most people’s individual worlds, whether they would choose that or not, for a long time to come, if not forever.

  37. Pictures are in abundance what I have referred to is the crafted image going is the photographers craft replaced by the picture.

  38. The biggest snag for me with video is that it simply tells too much. I prefer still images because they let you dream much further. You see with video if you record a few minutes of somebody there’s a good chance we will find out too much about this person. She maybe is extremely attractive but that voice of hers is awful or perhaps she or he is drop dead gorgeous until you see them walk and suddenly bang all those cool feelings crumble away leaving the everday boing and triial reality. But a photograph is so good at manipulating the truth it leaves so much more open to the imagination, it’s simply easier to create something iconic. Video takes a lot more ingredients which need each other to make something a “Wow”.


    I love this! I love the very first sentence I heard… “you just came here for an argument”…From then on it only got better.. Fantastic imagery and sound and I love the bits you chose to highlight…I am for all forms, the pictorial alone, the pictorial and the written but I love the pictorial, the written and audio all in one…Its a really really hard thing to master and I really think you have done a fabulous job…

    Well done and its inspired me to keep working on the environmental piece I am doing… sometimes seeing something like this pushes you forward so thanks for that!

  40. well done john.. sorry to have been unable to join you at speakers corner that sunday :o)
    works very well – whatever people classify it as.. stills.. MM.. blahblah.

    photography has new venues for showing work.. thats all..
    most of what is called “MM” has been around for yonks.. as “slideshow with sounds”.. the new venue to show the work has made it more prevelent of course.. easier to do and show.

    when video is thrown in it seems much of what is called MM becomes what might once have been called a documentary.. thinking of “darkness visable” by seamus murphy on media storm..

    working up an end result is paramount – whatever it’s called in the end is academic.. whatever trends are building now may stay or go, to be defined later.. once upon a time myspace was here to stay, and now it’s facebook.. who cares what it’s called – content is king.

    i guess it all starts differently for all of us. for me it starts with still images..
    it’s always been the case that editing for slideshow, exhibition or print is different.. now we have editing / producing for the internet as well.
    sa’ll fresh with the internet, although things seem to be settling into themselves in many ways for many photographer / producers.

    anyway.. gotta go – work.
    well done john .. hope to see you again soon in the near future and looking forward to hearing your next story is underway.

    stay well

  41. Hey congrats John on finally getting this published. Been away with spotty internet so didn’t get to it until now. Was actually in Hyde Park last week but no idea where this is and was with Felix so straight to the playground it was.

    Funny that most of the voices seem to be American accents. Why is this do you think?



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