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.

A day with Mitt Romney

Reuters photographer Brian Snyder spent a day behind the scenes with Mitt Romney, documenting his campaign.

By Brian Snyder

Photographing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as he campaigns across the United States is often about trying to find the candidate amongst all of the supporters and entourage around him. We see him at rallies surrounded by hundreds or thousands of enthusiastic supporters, at off the record stops in an uncontrolled swirl moving around a restaurant among unsuspecting diners, in a motorcade of a dozen vehicles, and on airport tarmacs while a parade of staff, security and press load onto the campaign plane. We are always in a crowd with more photographers, U.S. Secret Service agents and campaign staff all working in small spaces.

GALLERY: A day with Mitt Romney

But stepping one layer inside that, to document a “day in the life” of the candidate and the campaign, revealed an unexpected calm.  Governor Romney spent time talking to one or two advisors, joked in a room alone with his closest aide, and watched a video feed by himself as he was introduced to take the stage at a rally. There was space.

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.

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.


(Click on the images to view in high resolution)

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.