Photographers' Blog

Riding with Obama – Bill Clinton

Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.

Bill Clinton finally stands on the same stage with and endorses Barack Obama in the flesh – just days before election day.

Once a political foe of Barack Obama as the former president actively and energetically embraced the presidential primary campaign of his wife, Hillary Clinton, it was only a matter of time before former President Bill Clinton had to rally in person behind the Democratic party’s presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

The occasion finally came at a campaign rally in the ironically-named Florida town of Kissimee on Wednesday night. Throwing his full support behind Barack Obama, Bill Clinton appeared on stage with the Illinois senator and gave a rousing speech in his endorsement of the man who may become the first African-American president in U.S. history.

I would love to know what Obama was whispering into the ear of the former president as the rally wrapped up and they waved to the thousands that had gathered. As the rally drew to a close I tried to plot the best location to capture the final moments of the pair on stage together, and took a gamble to go to the back of the stage and do the reverse angle. When Obama leaned back and whispered something into Clinton’s ear, I knew it was something different that the cameras at the front of the stage may not have captured. It was striking to see the most recent Democratic president and the potential next one on stage together as the final push for the U.S. presidential election escalates, with election day just days away.

Riding with Obama

Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.

The hardships that fervent supporters of political candidates go through to catch a glimpse of their man in public are sometimes amazing. In blustery rain, bordering on freezing sleet in the Pennsylvania college town of Chester, thousands gathered from the dawn hours to score a prime position in the front row of an outdoor rally with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama at Widener University. The conditions were so poor that in a gesture of compassion, Obama brought the event forward by about an hour so that the poor soaked and freezing souls could shorten their waiting time to hear his stump speech.

 

 

 

To protect our cameras from the conditions, a couple of plastic hotel laundry bags and some duct tape were employed as makeshift rain covers for our gear. Even though I go into covering all the events as if they were my last, I remember that no picture is worth a drowned camera which no longer functions! Without working equipment,  a photographer is relegated to being just a spectator to history.

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 Obama: Backstage

Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.

It is on extremely rare occasions that individual wire service photographers get exclusive behind the scenes access with the U.S. presidential candidates for even just a few moments during the 2008 campaign. When we do it represents a fleeting chance to grab a few unguarded moments where the candidates are more relaxed and less wary of scrutiny away from the glare of the lights and the constant presence of dozens of intrusive cameras and microphones. When you cover the same man, day in and day out, with most of the time spent jostling with dozens of other photographers to get essentially the same shots from the same positions, any chance to get a few exclusive unguarded moments with just the candidate and yourself is a huge bonus.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama backstage before a campaign appearance in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2008.  REUTERS/Jason Reed

One of those rare opportunities occurred Monday night as I requested and was granted access backstage and behind the scenes with the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama before a campaign rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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.

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