The third and final debate between the 2008 U.S. presidential nominees had just ended. Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama and Republican nominee Senator John McCain had just shaken hands moments before and turned away from each other, when Senator McCain suddenly lunged forward with his hands out in front of him and stuck out his tongue.
It appeared to me that McCain was reacting to moderator Bob Schieffer informing him that he was headed the wrong way off the stage, that he was not supposed to be following Senator Obama, but was supposed to be heading towards his own wife and family around the other side of the table.
In any case, when I saw McCain lunge and his hands start to come up I hit the shutter and made two frames before it was over. Some other photographers who were there expressed surprise when they saw my picture and said they had never seen it happen at all and asked when it had occurred. When I saw the television tape of it later on the news I too was surprised at how momentary and fast the move by Senator McCain was. Strangely enough Senator McCain again stuck his tongue out in a similar way 3-4 minutes later while standing between his wife Cindy and Senator Obama at the front of the stage, a moment captured by my colleague Shannon Stapleton and other wire service photographers in attendance and once again shown on national and international television.
The picture, as with all my pictures that night, was remotely edited by an editor off site, viewing my pictures as I shot them over the internet and working with other editors who processed and captioned the pictures along with photos from the other three Reuters photographers shooting the debate. This photo was just one of 40 of my pictures that were transmitted on the Reuters wire from this debate and one of more than 100 from our crew of photographers, which included Gary Hershorn, Shannon Stapleton, Jim Young and Carlos Barria.
By the time I got back to my hotel room that night people were already discussing the photo on the internet and by the next morning my email inbox was filling with messages about the picture. Some people complimented me on the photo while others strongly criticized both myself and Reuters for shooting and transmitting a news photo of a very public moment that had taken place in front of more than 60 million television viewers at the culmination of a major and historic public event.