We missed the moment at Tiananmen

Photographer Brian Harris remembers journalist Michael Sheridan telling him about the crackdown against Tiananmen Square protests in early June, 1989 while the two of them were working together in Rome. They set off to China via Hong Kong, but it was difficult to reach Beijing, and despite having some great stories to tell about the trip, Harris struggled to find exceptional photos from the trip as he had largely missed the event itself.

Storyteller: Brian Harris

Date of Story: 5 June, 1989
Location of Story: Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Location: Outside Cambridge, UK
Date: 6 April, 2016

In the 1970s Brian Harris worked in the heart of London’s Fleet Street, freelancing for The Sun, The Times, News of the World, the BBC and United Press International, covering everything from IRA bombings to celebrity news, until joining The Times as its youngest ever staff photographer aged twenty-five. When The Independent launched in 1986, Brian became its first staff photographer, playing a key role in forming the renowned Indy style of intelligent editorial photography. In his fourteen years at The Independent Brian travelled the world to cover the stories that defined the era.
Since going freelance in 1999, Brian has staged several solo exhibitions, notably at Photofusion Photography Centre, and has contributed to exhibitions organised by the British Press Photographers’ Association. In 2006-7 he collaborated with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on Remembered, a major illustrated book of his photographs and series of international touring exhibitions chronicling the CWGC’s work caring for the graves of over 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead.
The BBC has made three short documentaries about his working methods and he has debated live on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze: ‘An experience more terrifying than walking through a minefield on the Falkland Islands.’
In the spring of 2016 Brian’s book ‘…and then the Prime Minister hit me…’ a 320 page hard back book of images and essays covering his life’s work. The book is currently being printed and bound in England and will be available from mid-late April 2016.