Post image for The London Festival of Photography Flash Mobs Russell Square

The London Festival of Photography Flash Mobs Russell Square

by Melanie Gow

Finally the pigeons in London found themselves out numbered – by photographers.

More than 150 photographers from all over London attended a flash mob event organised as part of the London Festival of Photography. It was a cold, light-less evening but that did not stop the fun, 24 hours earlier we had all downloaded an MP3, with instructions by documentary photographer Mimi Mollica, and turned up at a secret location at a certain time. Russell Square, 18.30pm June 12th 2012.

The sight of that many people plugged into headphones waiting for a signal was one you had to be there for. As a whistle blew at 18.40 we all pressed play and almost silently moved through a series of challenges for the next 25 mins.

Robson Santos, Lucio Oldani and I are members of the Instagrammers London Group and we met up to take part. We unnanimously enjoyed the event although we agreed there was not much variety in the choices of things to photograph – our photographs however show that, despite the limitations we felt, each individual photographer does have a unique view. Our first challenge was an ice breaker to take a “Facebook profile type selfie”, which was followed by instructions to take a close up of anything we liked.

Lucio Oldani

Melanie Gow

Robson Santos



We were also asked to take a photograph of wildlife, any wildlife we could find. I found a  lot of photographers making a star of a dog, who seemed to be loving it.

Then three dinosaurs sauntered casually into Russell Square and sat down on a bench.

Robson Santos beautifully captured this moment with this gorgeous picture of them chatting, with all the photographers in the background including a young boy on his iPad.

Our next task whispered into our ears was to photograph a photographer photographing a photographer.

Brilliantly done by Robson Santos in a series of images, two of which are here.

At one point we were asked to walk as far as we could and photograph something that took our interest there … I ended up outside the square and found a man using his phone for something other than taking photographs, I don’t know who was more curious me or him.By the look on his face I was the odd one out, I longed to tell him that in the park behind me he would have been – by a long way.

Robson Santos’ photograph, featured at the head of this piece, is his take on the instruction and it so beautifully captures the metaphor of the idea. He went as far as he could and met a fence and beyond it is a whole other world. His subject looks like he is ignoring the reality that he can not get to.

Finally we were asked to line up behind each other, a conga line naturally formed and suddenly music played loudly and over 100 photographers danced, whilst simultaneously trying to catch “the” shot

Lucio Oldani
Robson Santos

Both Robson and Lucio caught the energy and chaos brilliantly.

 All in all it was a great event. Perhaps even better looking back on the photographs than at the time, when the limitations of the setting and the lack of general public seemed a set back. We would go to another one.

 The featured image at the head of this post is by Robson Santos Robson Santos is a Brazilian born, London based mobile photographer.

Find more @

He is on Instagram as @Robson_Santos

Lucio Oldani is a psychiatrist, Tarot reader, and tenhorn player

Find more @

He is on Instagram as @lucreadstarot and on Twitter: @LucReadsTarot

Melanie Gow is Editor at Glow Magazine, an online journalist, mobile photographer and iArtist, producer and cultural events organiser.

She is on Instagram as @Princesss_MeLeia and on Twitter: @melgow

The Flash Mob was part of the activities organised by The London Festival of Photography
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