Monday, March 19, 2012

A Republican stimulous package for photojournalists

My favorite image of a candidate from two weeks of non-stop political coverage in Arizona.

From the bleachers, watching the faces of adoring fan
    Usually I fall behind on blogging when not much is going on. There’s been too much of that in the last few years.

     Lately it’s for a better reason.

     Between client work and national politics focusing in on Arizona, I have been gloriously busy. I cannot express how wonderful it’s been to be shooting often and shooting consistently, more interesting, well composed images in the process.

Yup, politician and a baby.
     In politics alone, the candidates presented almost daily opportunities for a couple weeks. To me, it was a stimulus plan for photojournalists. It afforded the opportunity to change and improve my approach from one event to the next, to get past to podium picture, and find the human moments that surround a campaign. It allowed me to better explore the landscape and anticipate what might an image look like by going the extra mile and, say, swimming against the stream by climbing the bleachers while supporters descended to shake hands at the rope with the man of the hour.

     It allowed me to make more unique images.
The throng is spun in the CNN Spin Room by Rick Perry speaking for Newt Gingrich.

     In the first three images above, such thinking led to an elevated  position that allowed me to move parallel to Mitt Romney and watch the faces as he interacted. It also led me to the end of the bleachers, next the corridor by which he would exit, for a different look.

     It may not be the first time we have seen that angle, but with a goal to find a view that my colleagues had missed, I made an image from that event that was copied only by a single television photojournalist.

Even the journalists are a little excited to interact with the candidates.
The scrum is a part of the scene too, so, of course, a photograph.
    By the time the CNN Arizona Debate rolled around, I was ready for the main event. Okay, so the main event was a television program and as such, would only allow us the first seven minutes to make photographs at the edge of the stage.

     That done, we sat in the media tent, transmitting photographs until it was over. Only then did the real work of the evening begin. One candidate and numerous candidate spokespeople waded into the media scrum of the CNN Spin Room to, well, spin their candidates' performances in front of a national audience. If you didn't catch Rick Perry or Rick Santorum as they entered the hall you very likely were stuck on the perimeter of the crowd of colleagues trying to get a microphone, a tape recorder close enough to hear or a camera lens close enough to make a viable image.

     If I wasn't deep in the scrum so close that I cause a minor injury to a colleague with my lens hood (sorry Jack!), many of us resorted to the modified "Hail Mary,"  using cameras' live view functions to frame a photograph while holding the camera at arms length over the fray. For that matter, at this sort of event, even the mosh-pit itself made an important moment in time sort of image.

Overall, it was two weeks of great production that makes me remember why although I pursue much more commercial photography these days, I continue to pursue photojournalism, to cover important events making engaging, story-telling photographs in the process. 

Reaching over the crowd to make the closeup while getting the entire flag that is draped out above Romney's head.
President Barack Obama also campaigns in Phoenix at Intel, after his State of the Union speech.
A moment in the crowd
Romney fan club at Mesa Amphitheater.
On air with Fox News, for a little different look.
Rick Santorum enters the stage for the big debate.
"Lets get ready to RUMBLE!"
Thanks to the crane operators, avoiding yet another indoor photo of a president with a row of flags behind him.
John McCain speaks for Romney after a win in Arizona.
A Romney volunteer gets a positive response while drumming up support at the phone center.