Photographers' Blog

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 McCain: A Final Campaign Goodbye

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign have been posting daily blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

In my past campaign coverage experience U.S. presidential candidates do not often continue to campaign on election day. Instead they do a long series of satellite interviews with local television and radio stations in battleground states. But, after a seven state, 24-hour day of campaigning, Senator John McCain dropped off his ballot at his local polling place and headed back out on the campaign trail with a flight to Grand Junction, Colorado for a campaign rally, the final rally of what has been a long presidential campaign. Senator and Mrs. McCain climbed the steps to their campaign plane after that final rally, turned, and waved to the crowd gathered below for a final time as the McCain 2008 presidential campaign wound down. Hours later McCain would call Senator Barack Obama to concede defeat and congratulate the new president-elect.

Riding with McCain: The Final Day of Campaigning – All airports all the time

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign are posting daily blog entries on the Reuters photographers blog sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

The final day of campaigning before election day and we are scheduled to have rallies in 7 different states: Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.  Most of the rallies are airport rallies which means the campaign plane lands and taxis up to a hangar that has been set up for a rally.  This saves a lot of time since there is no motorcading. Visually, several of the rallies have been inside the hangar, with the open side of the building serving as one of the backgrounds, making silhouettes a natural way to photograph them (top image).  When Senator and Mrs. McCain took the sage in Blountville, Tennessee, they were silhouetted against the open side of the hangar, waving to the crowd on opposite sides of the stage (bottom image).

Riding with McCain – Back to where it started

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign are posting daily blog entries on the Reuters photographers blog sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

One of the first town hall meetings that Senator McCain ever held in New Hampshire at the start of his failed presidential nomination bid in the year 2000 was in the town of Peterborough. He returned there as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee with less than two days to go before the 2008 general election. The overflow crowd of thousands of people stood outside to listen to the Senator speak on a cold, damp New England night in the center of Peterborough. Senator McCain climbed onto a small stage to thank the small town New Hampshire crowd for their enthusiasm and support.

Riding with McCain – The Ever Present “Straight Talk Express”

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign are posting daily blog entries on the Reuters photographers blog sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

The custom painted “Straight Talk Express” McCain campaign bus is one of the carry-over themes and props from Senator John McCain’s presidential run in the year 2000. Though reporters and photographers can no longer ride on the bus with McCain to experience first hand the “straight talk” he was famous for dispensing during the 2000 campaign to groups of media huddled inside, the senator does use it periodically now for his arrival at campaign stops. We don’t know (and neither do some of the Senator’s staff members who we asked) exactly how many “Straight Talk Express” buses are now positioned and roaming the country waiting for the senator to drop in by plane and jump aboard. The media traveling with the campaign see them suddenly appear at airports in states from coast to coast. Despite the fact that the bus is no longer the place of continual interaction with reporters that it once was, the symbolism of the bus and its legendary role in the 2000 campaign seem to live on.

Riding with McCain – Calling on the Terminator

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign are posting daily blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

It is the waning days of the extremely long U.S. presidential campaign and both candidates are looking to pull out all the stops and seal the deal with the American public.  Who better to call out in an effort to try to deliver a final political blow than the TERMINATOR himself? Senator McCain called on former actor, “Terminator” and current Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to introduce and publicly back him at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio. It was Halloween, but unfortunately the governor did not come dressed as “The Terminator.” Sometimes it is actually a struggle to make a simple clean strong campaign picture like this one: where the two principals come together and interact well onstage, the light is nice, the background is clean and and there is a simple real moment between them.

Riding with McCain – Enthusiasm in Defiance and Joe The Plumber

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4. He and his colleague Jason Reed traveling with the Obama campaign are posting daily blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

One of the very first frames that I exposed on the McCain campaign this morning also turned out to be one of my favorites of the day. The Defiance, Ohio high school band lined up for Senator McCain’s entrance for his first early morning campaign rally of the day and showed more than a little enthusiasm.

However, later in the day, good old “Joe the Plumber” himself was trotted out to actually join Senator McCain on the campaign trail and lend his support and those images will surely totally overshadow the ones that we made earlier.

Riding with McCain – Connection

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is reflected in the glasses of a supporter at a campaign rally at Everglades Lumber in Miami, Florida October 29, 2008.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4.

On a fairly basic level, campaigning is about the candidate connecting with voters.  Unfortunately, showing that connection in a still photograph is difficult.  A television videographer can pan the camera from the crowd to the candidate and back.  As a still photographer I make pictures of the candidate shaking hands with voters at nearly every event, which shows, in one frame, a literal connection to the crowd.  Looking around today during an outdoor rally in Miami, Florida, I saw Senator McCain reflected in the glasses of a woman in the front row which provided me with another way to connect the candidate to the voter/supporter in a single frame.

Riding with McCain: Together With Palin

U.S. Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (L) and U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) share a laugh at a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania October 28, 2008.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day November 4.

Senator McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has been much written about, discussed and analyzed.  The two of them do not campaign together very often, so when they do appear onstage at the same time, as they did today during a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania,  I watch their interactions (or lack thereof) very carefully.  The last time I photographed the two of them together, they actually stood on opposite sides of the stage.  At the beginning of this rally, Senator McCain and Governor Palin stood side by side, interacted and laughed together, creating a strong image. 

Riding with McCain

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder is traveling with the campaign of Republican presidential nominee John McCain through election day.

I first met, photographed and spent time traveling with Senator John McCain more than eight years ago as he campaigned for the 2000 New Hampshire primary during his first try at becoming the Republican party’s presidential nominee.

Back then the photographers (as well as many reporters) rode around on the campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, right with Senator McCain. Virtually everything was “on the record” and fair game. Senator McCain was very approachable, chatting with the photographers and reporters regularly and getting to know most of us by name. In the end, Senator McCain lost the Republican party’s nomination to then Texas Governor George W. Bush, but I came away from those weeks with a feeling that I had been able to get a rare and very interesting look behind the public veneer of a presidential campaign.