Photographers' Blog

A different political film

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.

GALLERY: POLITICS ON FILM

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.

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.

Caught with Obama in a downpour

By Jason Reed

It happens about once a year. If he had waited two more minutes the pictures would not have happened but Mother Nature had other ideas. It was time for a good old soaking at an event featuring President Barack Obama.

The forecast had called for hot and humid conditions on the second day of a two-day campaign swing through Virginia, where the first ominous signs were the crash of thunder in the distance as Obama stopped at a roadside vegetable stand to pick up a crate of tomatoes for the family. On the way to the outdoor campaign rally in Glen Allen, lightning flashed in front of the motorcade. We arrived at the venue with heavy, ominous clouds and some light sprinkles that we all hoped would quickly subside. No one except the Secret Service were carrying rain jackets (they must have all been boy scouts – “Be prepared”). Not even the President was prepared to deal with the next half hour.

With the press gathered in front of the stage in our cotton short sleeve shirts, the light sprinkle, which had been just a small nuisance, quickly turned into a full deluge that would be familiar to anyone who has ever lived in monsoon-prone regions of southeast Asia. (Stand under a bathroom shower fully clothed and turn the water pressure to maximum. You get the drift.) Now grab about $20,000 worth of camera gear and start taking pictures.