Riding with Obama: Backstage

October 28, 2008

Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.

It is on extremely rare occasions that individual wire service photographers get exclusive behind the scenes access with the U.S. presidential candidates for even just a few moments during the 2008 campaign. When we do it represents a fleeting chance to grab a few unguarded moments where the candidates are more relaxed and less wary of scrutiny away from the glare of the lights and the constant presence of dozens of intrusive cameras and microphones. When you cover the same man, day in and day out, with most of the time spent jostling with dozens of other photographers to get essentially the same shots from the same positions, any chance to get a few exclusive unguarded moments with just the candidate and yourself is a huge bonus.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama backstage before a campaign appearance in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2008.  REUTERS/Jason Reed

One of those rare opportunities occurred Monday night as I requested and was granted access backstage and behind the scenes with the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama before a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Armed with a relatively quiet Canon 5D digital camera and a 50mm f1.2 ‘fast’ lens for the poorly-lit corridors of the sports arena where the rally was being held, I attempted my best impersonation of a fly-on-the-wall as Obama made small talk with aides and local officials behind the scenes before addressing a rally of thousands of supporters just minutes later.

In the brief moments that I was snapping away during this rare glimpse, what struck me on a personal level was Obama’s ability to engage with pretty much anyone he was introduced to, from young children to the elderly, on most topics. One moment he was chatting with young kids about their favourite drawings and then he switched almost instantly into a more sophisticated chat about health care policy and the economy with local campaign officials. Within a few minutes, Obama left it all behind and took to the stage to deliver a rousing speech and whipped the crowd of thousands up into a frenzy of enthusiasm, trying to cheer him on to victory.

I transmitted more than 50 news photos of Senator Obama on Monday October 27th, a day which included a major policy speech described by the campaign as Obama’s “closing argument” of the campaign, another major campaign rally and a visit to a local campaign field office. But my favorite pictures were of course those quieter more rare images that I made behind the scenes, from the senator signing the dozens of books owned by supporters, or walking alone backstage towards the rally, or sharing a light moment with local officials in a holding room. As this almost two year long election campaign kicks into high gear in its final days, we may not get another chance to experience more of those fleeting private moments with the two major candidates, but I am glad that Reuters and I got this rare opportunity with just one week to go before America elects a new president.


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Go Barack ! I can’t wait until this election is over & we get an intelligent person in the White House ! Go Obama !

Posted by Jacky Van Diver | Report as abusive

In the last two Bush elections, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Tobacco bankrolled Bush to the hilt.

No complaints from Republicans, as a small oligarchy of corporations bought the US Presidency away from 300 million Americans!

This succeeded because we didn’t do enough to support Gore’s & Kerry’s campaigns & help them defeat the Republican sleaze machine.

They lost, and we, the people, lost big time – Republican-made disasters just keep on breaking down on us every day!

But we’ve learned from that experience – today, more than 3 million citizens have donated, and tens of thousands are working day & night for Obama.

By the sheer additive power of this huge public response, we will enable Obama/Biden to win this campaign, and to beat the sleaze machine of McCain/Palin/Rove & Fox News.

Posted by fbla1805 | Report as abusive

Another reason to vote for Obama/Biden, and not McCain/Palin? How about affordable health care for the middle class?

John McCain’s health care plans will destroy employer-based health insurance (says the US Chamber of Commerce!). For the millions of Americans that have it, that insurance is worth about $12,000. a year! After destroying this, McCain will offer instead $5,000. in tax credits! That’s $7,000. per family per year that McCain’s plan will steal from American families.

Even worse, McCain’s plan will throw us out of group insurance rates, and instead force us all onto the market as lonely individuals, with no market power, facing the powerful, unregulated health-insurance industry giants. And anyone with a precondition will not get any insurance coverage at all!

Who will benefit from the McCain Plan, may I ask?

Posted by aix1825 | Report as abusive

This a rare glimpse – to use a phrase Barack Obama used to describe our citizens’ potential – into what I believe is the ‘strength and grace’ of the candidate himself as well. I was privileged to attend the rally
Mon. 10/27 where these photos were taken backstage;
and was impressed with the joyful way
attendees waited patiently in long lines
to get through security etc.
Thank you for sharing these photos.

Posted by ca | Report as abusive