Photographers' Blog

A day with Mitt Romney

Reuters photographer Brian Snyder spent a day behind the scenes with Mitt Romney, documenting his campaign.

By Brian Snyder

Photographing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as he campaigns across the United States is often about trying to find the candidate amongst all of the supporters and entourage around him. We see him at rallies surrounded by hundreds or thousands of enthusiastic supporters, at off the record stops in an uncontrolled swirl moving around a restaurant among unsuspecting diners, in a motorcade of a dozen vehicles, and on airport tarmacs while a parade of staff, security and press load onto the campaign plane. We are always in a crowd with more photographers, U.S. Secret Service agents and campaign staff all working in small spaces.

GALLERY: A day with Mitt Romney

But stepping one layer inside that, to document a “day in the life” of the candidate and the campaign, revealed an unexpected calm.  Governor Romney spent time talking to one or two advisors, joked in a room alone with his closest aide, and watched a video feed by himself as he was introduced to take the stage at a rally. There was space.

Ordinarily the photographers traveling with the campaign hustle to keep up, run to get into position, hurry to the motorcade so as not to be left behind. As we photograph the events, we try to wring as much variety out of them as possible. Then we rush to edit, tone, caption and transmit the images while the motorcade is rolling and the plane is taking off — only to land in a new state and get in the motorcade to do it all over again.

Within his protective bubble of calm, Governor Romney neither hurries from place to place, nor has to wait impatiently for the next event to begin. The pace is measured, leaving him time to consider new lines for his speech, talk strategy with running mate Paul Ryan and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, offer candy from a halloween pumpkin to a young girl backstage (after taking a chocolate bar for himself), or sing the refrain of a song with the Oak Ridge Boys in a hold room.

“We’re pulling an all-nighter”

By Kevin Lamarque

“We’re pulling an all-nighter” — President Barack Obama’s refrain to crowds across the U.S.A. throughout his non-stop 40-hour campaign swing.

An all-nighter? Really? As in we sleep on the plane? On a domestic trip? Seriously? This was my initial reaction upon seeing the White House press schedule and failing to find a hotel mentioned anywhere. But sure enough, that was the deal.

I am pretty used to sleeping on Air Force One on the many long-haul international trips taken by presidents, and honestly, the seats are a lot more comfortable than on board your average cramped commercial airliner. But thankfully, to my knowledge, I have never had to call Air Force One my bed or hotel while traveling in my own country. This was about the change.

An eternity with Mitt Romney

By Brian Snyder

Here’s something almost everyone who covers a U.S. Presidential campaign says or thinks, “That event yesterday/last week/last month seems like an eternity ago.” That’s certainly how Mitt Romney’s formal announcement of his candidacy at Scamman Farm in Stratham, New Hampshire June 2, 2011 seems.

SLIDESHOW: CHRONOLOGY OF ROMNEY’S CAMPAIGN

But that’s recent history. I was surprised when I looked into the Reuters archive and saw how far back my coverage of Romney extends:

From the early days of the current election cycle in New Hampshire in 2011:

Back to unsuccessfully chasing the Republican presidential nomination in 2008:

And further back to Governor Romney, signing into law the now contentious healthcare reform legislation that would attempt to provide health insurance for all of Massachusetts residents in 2006:

Hard to ignore… the teleprompter

By Kevin Lamarque

Teleprompters; as much as the audience, the image makers and even President Barack Obama himself may wish these devices were truly invisible, there are times when the teleprompter cannot be ignored.

SLIDESHOW: OBAMA AND TELEPROMPTERS

For photographers, the teleprompter is most often seen as a nuisance, something that hinders their shot. With teleprompters to his left and right, Obama seemingly never looks directly ahead. His head shifts from side to side, at times giving the impression he is watching a tennis match as he delivers his remarks. Photographers naturally gravitate to the 45-degree angle in order to capture Obama looking down the barrel of the lens as he reads his speech. This usually works, assuming the teleprompter is composed out of the frame. Sometimes, the President is framed clearly through the teleprompter glass and can actually make a desirable image.

At a recent campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, the teleprompter appeared different. This rally was outside on a bright and sunny day and an opaque teleprompter was in place, not the transparent model we mostly see. As I moved around, I realized I could not see the President behind this teleprompter, and it caught my eye. Moving into just the right angle, I shot many frames until Obama’s head was completely obscured by the teleprompter, giving the impression that he and the teleprompter were somehow one. Obama’s light colored shirt added to the effect.

Mitt Romney: Then and now

By Brian Snyder

Before his campaigns to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States, Mitt Romney challenged Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate. While Romney ultimately lost the race against Senator Kennedy, I covered his victory rally in September 20, 1994 when he won the Republican primary.

Some things have changed since then, but much has not. Romney’s parents, who were with him onstage in 1994, have since died, and he now campaigns not only with his children, but also his grand children.

His wife Ann remains at his side, often introducing him at campaign stops.

(Click on the images above for a high resolution version)

On the campaign trail with the Underdog

By Jessica Rinaldi

Every four years we photographers load our suitcases with layers of warm clothes and head to the Granite State to photograph the political frenzy that is the New Hampshire Primary. New Hampshire and Iowa are considered by many to be retail politics at their best, the states where candidates get on the ground to talk with voters, and local residents have the unique chance to see who the candidates are. It’s an opportunity for the candidates to test out their talking points and fine tune their campaign strategy, to see what floats.

While all of that is well and good in the warm summer months at the beginning of their journey, by the time that chilly spotlight turns from Iowa to New Hampshire they tend to have already become well-seasoned politicians. It is with that knowledge that we head to New Hampshire, where we know that we will be composing other photographers in or out of our shots depending on the story and jostling for position in front of the diner booth, factory worker, rotary club member, or veteran that happens to call to us at one of the many campaign events we shoot throughout the day. At least, that’s what I had figured I would do this time around.

Enter U.S. Presidential candidate and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, the only major candidate I’ve ever seen drive to his own campaign events. Huntsman, who skipped out on the Iowa caucus in favor of focusing all of his efforts on New Hampshire has done over 150 campaign events in this state but curiously only seems to have found his stride just now.

Dateline Iowa

By Joshua Lott

Before leaving my apartment in Phoenix, Arizona and driving 1,500 miles with two other photographers to Des Moines, Iowa to cover the Iowa Caucus, thoughts of frigid temperatures, scraping frost off my windshield and driving along snow covered roads were foreseeable. That is exactly what happened when I covered the caucus for Reuters in 2007. Since arriving in the Hawkeye state on December 18th, Mother Nature has kept Old Man Winter to the north and the weather on the mild side; the low 40s.

I am right back where I was four years ago minus the snow, cold and Democrats; chasing Republican presidential candidates on the stump through the corn fields and dirt roads of Iowa. Before Christmas I spent most of my time in the eastern part of the state following Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gringrich.

Paul held one of his events at a banquet hall filled with followers in Fort Madison, Iowa.

President Obama takes the White House to the Midwest

By Jason Reed

600 miles of ice cream stops, cornfields and cow judging contests – a glimpse inside the traveling white house circus.

The scene in Washington DC, 2011 – U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, unemployment figures that wont improve, congressional deadlock – it’s enough to make you want to get out of town. President Barack Obama did just that this week, jumping on a shiny new bus and heading out to the Midwest to spend time with pretty much anyone who wasn’t wearing a business suit.

It was surely a nice change of scenery for Obama and definitely for photographers assigned to the White House who have been fed a steady diet of presidential remarks in front of all the familiar Washington backgrounds for weeks on end. The message was however, the same. Getting the nine per cent of unemployed Americans back to work.

Riding with McCain – 2 Days, 9 States and over 4,000 miles

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder traveled with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day. He and his colleague Jason Reed who traveled with the Obama campaign posted daily blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage. Brian’s final blog entry on covering the McCain campaign follows.

I don’t think it can be said that Senator John McCain’s loss of the U.S. presidency to Barack Obama was for lack of trying. Senator McCain campaigned hard in the final two days before the election.  On November 2 and November 3 we went to 11 rallies, in 9 different states, and worked 45 out of 48 hours.  We flew more than 4,000 miles over those two days. At each rally I shot a picture from the same spot in the buffer in front of the stage.  What you see in this combination of pictures are those images, one from each of the 11 rallies.  The covers of our schedules are at the end of the sequence.  While in the end past decisions and this unique moment in history may have stopped Senator McCain from becoming president, he certainly gave it one final, strong push.

Riding with Obama – A Final Look Back

 Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed has been traveling with the campaign of Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Barack Obama. He and his colleague Brian Snyder traveling with the McCain campaign have been posting daily photographers blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

In the past year and a half I have been priviledged to have a front row seat to American political history – on a personal journey as a Reuters photographer on the road to the White House with Barack Obama.
 
In the first 24 hours that we have all had a chance to absorb the historic election of Democratic Senator Barack Obama to become the 44th president of the United States, I have finally had time to catch my breath after an incredible 21-month journey photographing his unlikely rise on the political world stage, alongside my Reuters photographer colleagues. From the very earliest beginnings of his campaign, at his announcement speech on those frozen steps of the State House in Springfield, Illinois to the grand stage in Chicago’s Grant Park where he delivered his victory speech last night, I feel incredibly privileged to have gone along for the ride and witnessed one of the great ascensions to the U.S. presidency in history.
 

 
Of all of those who aspired to the highest office in the land, from the early days when we chased many Republican and Democratic candidates from coffee shop photo-ops to town halls across the state of Iowa, it always seemed to me as a photographer that it was Barack Obama who stood out from the crowd. This was not at all just because of the color of his skin, although the press has made much of his race as the first African-American candidate to go all the way to the White House. When I was taking pictures, it was in observing his quiet grace, the way he engages people from all walks of life and of course his famous ability to crystallize into words the hopes and aspirations of millions through his campaign for ‘change’. The reactions he evokes from his followers and supporters are like no other recent candidate’s I have seen. I have tried to convey this through my pictures on the wire.

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