Harpenden Photographic Society has announced a 'powerful' photo essay of a pro-Palestinian protest as its 2023/2024 Audio Visual Competition winner.

Steve Collins came in first place for his documentary-style photo essay, entitled 'You Want It Darker', which judges praised as a "sombre and magnificent piece of work".

His entry featured black and white photos of the March for Palestine held on Armistice Day last year, accompanied by the song 'You Want It Darker' by Leonard Cohen.

Herts Advertiser: March for PalestineMarch for Palestine (Image: Steve Collins)

The competition included 11 entries from seven photographers, covering a broad range of topics with music including 60s, jazz, ballet and rock and roll classics.

In second place was 'Life' by Gerry Kelly - a sequence of moody landscapes juxtaposed with lighter images, accompanied by Hans Zimmer's theme 'House Atreides' from Dune.

Paul Johnson came in third place for 'Macro Collection', which featured colourful images created for the club's macro special interest group's monthly topics, accompanied by Cilla Black's 'Sing a Rainbow'.

Herts Advertiser: The March for Palestine was held on Armistice Day last yearThe March for Palestine was held on Armistice Day last year (Image: Steve Collins)

Steve Collins, who is chair of the society, said: "There were some incredible AVs entered in the competition, and so I am extremely proud to have one of mine be chosen as the overall winner.

"The images shown in 'You Want It Darker' were taken at the huge protest that took place on Armistice Day last year, which saw 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a Gaza ceasefire marching in central London, and which was the biggest UK rally since the Israel-Gaza war began.

Herts Advertiser: Steve Collins took powerful photos at the March for PalestineSteve Collins took powerful photos at the March for Palestine (Image: Steve Collins)

"With very evocative black and white photography, I decided to use the equally evocative Leonard Cohen song, 'You Want It Darker', to accompany the images.


"Together they work very effectively, with many of the song’s lyrics such as 'I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim' or 'A million candles burning for the help that never came', becoming incredibly moving against the images showing people angry and desperate for an end to the conflict."

Steve's winning photo essay can be viewed on Harpenden Photographic Society's YouTube channel.

Harpenden Photographic Society welcomes new members who are enthusiastic about photography, and will begin its new season on Tuesday, September 3.