A different political film

November 2, 2012

By Jim Young

The political game always seems the same to me, only the players change.

This is my third Presidential campaign and I have always been fascinated with U.S. politics. This time around it was the early impact of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin, all the way to Romney’s run up to election day that intrigued me.

It all began 18 months ago when I was based in Washington D.C. and started shooting with a Hasselblad x-pan panoramic film camera while covering President Barack Obama. I had never used a rangefinder before and had to remember how to manually focus a camera.


Shortly after I started the project, I moved to Chicago. A year and a half before election day and the campaign was already in full swing. A growing list of Republican challengers lined up for a chance to go up against the President.

With my proximity to Iowa, I made a half a dozen trips to Iowa, the early stages of the campaign where the contenders tested their stump speech and their handshakes. Candidates came and went and in the end only one was left standing, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.

I like how film is timeless. There is something about the tangible nature of film, though they were just snapshots along the trail during the campaign. Maybe one day, people will look at film and wonder what it was all about but I like that there is no mistaking where the product comes from. It’s not filtered, manipulated or cropped. I shot a black and white film project with a $20 plastic film camera on President George W. Bush in 2008, a project on the Presidency in 2010 shot with a polaroid-type camera, and now the xpan.

With only days to go, I am heading back out on the trail for the last week with Romney. Though I have no idea how it will all finish, it has been an interesting story.

I think one day I will be forced to jump on the Instagram wagon but until then… I just ordered my next “old school” film camera. After all, the race for the 2016 White House begins November 7th.

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