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 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.

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 Obama – A final bump from “The Boss”

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

When people ask me what its like to cover a presidential election campaign, traveling with Democratic nominee Barack Obama over the past months, my standard reply is it’s like going to three or four rock music concerts a day, every day, for weeks on end. The adrenalin rush you get from the thousands of excited supporters in the crowd is infectious, even after a 14 hour day on the road and you are suffering a nasty case of severe sleep deprivation.

The rock concert analogy played out more literally on Sunday, as American popular music legend Bruce Springsteen headlined for Obama at a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio. Throwing his support behind the democratic nominee, Springsteen fired up the crowd with some of his songs, most with a political flavor, ending his set with a spoken political speech accompanied to the strumming of his guitar.

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 Obama – A quiet family meal for 3, watched by dozens

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

Following an election rally in the small town of Pueblo, Colorado Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took his family for a meal at Jorge’s Sombrero, a Mexican restaurant in the quaint desert town. Accompanying the Illinois Senator were a gaggle of dozens of traveling press, who managed to squeeze their way between the tables of diners, who I am sure had not expected their own meals to be interrupted by a sudden horde of tv cameras and correspondents charging in among the waitresses.

Obama, who it appears may be getting a little tired of the intense media attention that now follows his every move, this time played nicely for the cameras, following the previous day’s incident where he appeared to run from the press on his way to a Halloween party in his Chicago neighborhood (previous blog entry). As eight traveling photographers managed to shoehorn their way into the four person booth opposite that of the Obama’s, I thought this is appeared to be about as natural a scene as it can get, considering the popularity of the subject matter and the sheer number of press in that room.

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 Obama – Trick or Treat

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

TRICK OR TREAT! – Obama brings Halloween home.
 
Following a Halloween pumpkin shopping spree in Florida on Thursday (previous blog entry), U.S. Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama brought it home on Friday to celebrate Halloween with the family in Chicago. After carrying his pumpkin off the plane, Obama was soon spotted walking down the street in his neighbourhood, with his 7-year-old daughter Sasha in her ‘corpse bride’ outfit, as they went to visit with neighbors at a Halloween party.

The Obama ‘protective travel pool’, introduced only in recent months, now travels everywhere with the presidential nominee, a tight group of journalists, photographers and a television crew – with one spot being reserved for a Reuters News Pictures still photographer. The protective pool, similar to that of the U.S. president as part of the White House coverage, is in place in the event of news occurring that would require a presence of the media to record it, such as a presidential or candidate statement on an overseas crisis, or after all of the past attacks on U.S. presidents and U.S. presidential candidates, an attempt by someone to harm the candidate. For the most part however, it is just an exercise in endless patience.

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.