Photographers' Blog

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.

Perry spoke to a room full of supporters at a restaurant/bar during a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Bachmann sipped her coffee as she signed autographs at a coffee shop in Newton, Iowa and Gingrich received the attention of dozens of people standing before him at a security company in Davenport, Iowa.

Handshakes and corndogs

The Iowa State Fair and the U.S. Presidential election campaign are pure “Americana” to me. Though at times, both seem so over the top but in completely opposite directions. From the Hollywood-esque nature of the politicians rolling through the crowds (rock stars in suit) to the real down-home kindness and curiosity of the Midwest people, just wanting to be out enjoying the atmosphere.


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The Fair is one of the first unofficial steps in the run for the Presidency. The candidates go through their rights of passage from flipping pork chops, eating the latest deep fried concoction, and shaking hands with anyone within arm’s reach, while the sights and smells of the Fair conjures up memories of my own childhood.

The candidates roam around the grounds holding their walking photo-ops, with the press corps following their every move, though I found myself occasionally walking off in brief downtime between candidates to grab snapshots of the environment.