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26 posts categorized "Convention '08 Live"

Dec 26, 2009

Best of the Bag Decade: Contributors & Friends, Pt. I

(The Best of the Bag Decade is our end of the year, end of the decade look at some of the best BAGnews posts and analysis.)

The incredible contributors and friends of BAGnews make BAG unique.  BAG not only publishes original photojournalism, many times the photographers give readers vital information about context, subject matter, and events behind the image.

Part I of Best of the BAG Decade: Contributors & Friends re-posts the work of four great photographers: Alan Chin, Nina Berman, and Tim Fadek. Part II will feature the work of Lori Grinker, Mario Tama, Peter van Agtmael, Matt Lutton, and Jason Andrew.

Alan Chin

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BAG's talented everywhere man, Alan Chin, covered the 2008 presidential candidates for BAGnews, capturing Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Giuliani, McCain, and Palin. He was credentialed for BAGnews at the DNC Convention in Denver and shot GOP rallies (see Our Man in Pennsylvania), including the above shot of a desperate looking Palin  at a Shippensburg, PA appearance just a few days before the election.

Alan reported that Palin held her prayerful position at the podium for a full ten minutes.

Alan's coverage of the DNC Convention delivered incredible photos, including this one of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama gathered onstage after Michelle Obama's speech, gesturing to a large video screen full of their husband and father:

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Alan caught Rudy Giuliani at a New Hampshire Segway plant (and noted the employees' lukewarm reception, something the rest of the media missed) and a haggard John Edwards on the day he dropped out of the race (with each line in his face taking on new meaning when considering his current context):

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Why Alan's Frustrated engendered an in-depth community discussion of the disconnect between campaign-managed photo ops and the effect of the resulting photograph on the public perception of a campaign:

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"[E]ven if we know these scenes are thoroughly staged, their supposed genuineness still coerces the mind into considering they still could be what they propose themselves to be.  (Of course, this is much less true with hardened media and political skeptics, like us, but the cognitive-perceptual impact on what is generally a skeptical public, I'm assuming, remains substantive.  ...Otherwise, I imagine we'd see somewhat less control.)"

BAG's point prompted one reader to remark:

The threat of being genuine -- which is a boon to a reporters -- is that the positives don't come close to the negatives. In 2004 Bush spoke only to pre-chosen crowds of supporters. No chance for anything unscripted. Repetitious soundbites and carefully tested backdrops were used and reused daily. And what did America do? Re-elected him over the guy prone for talking too much, and too often off-script.
This exchange, and many others in the post and subsequent posts, illustrates the value of community access to the photographer's context. It's what makes BAG unique.

Continue reading "Best of the Bag Decade: Contributors & Friends, Pt. I" »

Aug 31, 2008

BNN At The DNC: The Finest Team In Visual Politics

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Shaw, Shaw and Chin at the downtown Denver BAGnewsNotes headquarters. (We heard Newsweek was out in Siberia ... which tells you something about our momentum).

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Then there's Shaw in the Blogger's Workspace in the Media Filing Center at Pepsi; Shaw and Shaw in the big tent; and Shaw in the Invesco press box.

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While Alan Chin, Our Man On The Floor Field, was doing his thing.  Do you think they're still waiting for him to return his 30-minute floor pass?

... And a special thanks to Jake Eisenmann, our research intern in Oakland, and secret weapon.

(images 1 & 5 (the really good ones) : Christian Hansen/; image 3: strathkinnessjb's flickr photo stream; image 2 & 4: friends)

Aug 30, 2008

Our Man On The Floor: Obama's Night ... And Some Notes On Reality

I can't say exactly how yet, but I'm sure covering the Dem Convention is going to have a powerful effect going forward on how I read and understand political visuals.

Alan Chin has been leaning on me for years to cover something like this "on the ground."  (Short of another major disaster in the Gulf, he's planning on covering the Republican Convention as well, and wanted me to see that first hand, too.  ... Even putting aside my day job, however, I don't think the RNC would have been that forthcoming with a credential.)

It's true, though, that an instinctual appreciation of visual staging and photo ops is nothing compared to seeing it executed, first hand, on this kind of grand scale.  I can't tell you how disorienting it as, however, going from reading the pictures to being part of the audience.  Divorced from the media's frame, you suddenly have no way to predict what "they" are going for in terms of the angles, depth, scale, lighting -- not to mention tone and mood.  In a complete reality flip, your orientation is thrown off by the problem -- being engulfed by a movie set -- of being confined to experiencing it live.  (As a funny commentary on how surreal this reality is, check out this link Hanan Levin of the remarkable website, grow-a-brain, sent me this morning, with only the sentence: "Notice the Disney-like shadows in this picture....")

Continue reading "Our Man On The Floor: Obama's Night ... And Some Notes On Reality" »

Aug 29, 2008

Our Man On The Floor: The Obama Connection

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The difference between Obama and Clinton (either one) is that the Clintons are like LBJ, and Obama is like JFK, or RFK, or even Reagan.

Obama is a personal politician and the Clintons are parliamentarians.  Although one imagines Obama will be perfectly adept at coalition building, bringing home the bacon, and managing a bureaucracy, his overriding strength is that he communicates directly to the individual.

Eighty thousand people, and every one feels like he's talking directly to them.

Update 10:13 am MST:  In the previous version of this post, written at four in the morning as team effort, we were drawing a comparison between Obama (and JFK and RFK) and the Clintons (and LBJ) simply (we believed) as a way to highlight Obama's overriding skill at communicating to the individual.  In the light of dawn after a long week, however, I see how the comments have the unintended effect of rekindling "Clinton versus Obama" and, more importantly, detracting from the overall story of the evening and the images.

In a week deliberately laden with historical echoes (JFK's 1960 Los Angeles Coliseum speech, MLK's 1963 March on Washington, and even LBJ's 100th birthday), what shone through on the final night as Barack Obama made his triumphant acceptance of the Democratic nomination was, once again, his personal connection and even magic.

The man in the first image under Obama is his political mentor, Emil Jones, president of the Illinois State Senate.

(Images © Alan Chin.  Denver. 2008)

Aug 28, 2008

Our Man On The Floor: The Anchor

Excuse the abbreviated analysis as we've had a few fires to fight. 

Wednesday night was a TV show, sure, but the excitement in the hall -- and Al and I were fortunate to be on the floor the last hour -- was quite genuine. 

Joe Biden's unassuming, "average Joe" nature (the 94th richest man in the senate, I keep hearing) and his uncomplicated description of the failure of the GOP and the shortcomings of John McCain came through clearly and deliberately. 

I think Biden -- and I believe this comes through in the pictures of the two men together -- lends a strong, grounding anchor to to this high-energy "change campaign," especially with the kind of inordinate, made-for-television presentation requirements necessary today (on the part of each party) to sell their candidate.

Biden speech

(Images © Alan Chin.  Denver. 2008)

Our Man On The Floor: That Old Bill Clinton

I couldn't say it better than Digby:

I know that it is fashionable among the cognoscenti to hate Bill Clinton, it has been since he came on the scene. But rank and file Democrats still love him and they were happy to see him tonight. Like Hillary, he's the ultimate pro, and he has a legacy to protect and a wife who is one of the most important people in Democratic politics still. There was never any chance he and Hillary would replay 1980. It's never been their style.

He did something important tonight by reminding Americans that he too was derided in 1992 as being too young and too inexperienced to be commander in chief, which to all but a few die hard wingnuts, looks pretty ridiculous in retrospect. In doing that he laid the mantle of his own credibility as president on Obama, which despite the cable babblers who've never gotten it, is substantial to the American public.

I hear that he's going to be campaigning alongside Barack in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and that's smart. Say what you will about him, he's still a helluva politician. 

The first two slides by the incomparable Alan Chin cover most of Digby's point. Clinton's eagerness and electricity radiates right through the battery of secret service. Shots 3, 4 and 5, however, really reveals the full spectrum of Clinton's political personality.  In the third shot, we see his characteristic finger.  But it's instructive rather than admonishing.  In the next frame, we see a side of Clinton that has been painfully absent (and almost forgotten) since Lewinsky -- that gregariousness and playfulness. 

In the last shot, though, Bill's expression is one that can't really be acted.  And, it's is the image the Democrats and Obama really needed from Clinton last night: simply the look of joy.

Welcome Digby readers. Go here to check out our full convention coverage from Denver

(Images © Alan Chin.  Denver. 2008)

Our Man On The Floor: "And, Four Years Ago..."


Thank you so much. Four years ago, you gave me the honor of fighting our fight. I was proud to stand with you then, and I am proud to stand with you now, to help elect Barack Obama as president of the United States.  In 2004, we came so close to victory. We are even closer now, and let me tell you, this time we’re going to win.


In closing, let me say, I will always remember how we stood together in 2004, not just in a campaign but for a cause. Now again we stand together in the ranks, ready to fight. The choice is clear; our cause is just; and now is our time to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

"Four years ago."  "In 2004." 

It was not lost on anyone last night that, had Kerry been even halfway as straightforward and aggressive in '04, this would have been his convention.   

It was that recognition that caused our photographer, Alan Chin, to catch this photo, and only this photo, of the fighting Kerry last night.  With Kerry, there is a forlorn quality that is inherent to the man.  Matched to the setting, however, there is a deeper irony here -- a recognition, mirrored by those "2004's", that this was as close to the top as he was ever going to get.

Read the transcript/YouTube.

(Images © Alan Chin.  Denver. 2008)

Later Today: Our Man On The Floor With Bill, Joe, John ...and Barack


Stay tuned later this morning for "Our Man's" full slideshow from Wednesday evening.

(All images © Alan Chin.  Denver. 2008)

Aug 27, 2008

The Centrality Of The Normal Family


DNC guest post by Wendy Kozol, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, Oberlin College.

Attached is a family portrait of the Obamas that has been circulating around and is on the Obama fundraising site.  It seems to sum up a visual strategy of the campaign to make the Obamas familiar, friendly, safe, just like you and me.  I thought Michelle Obama's speech was effective and strategic and she came across well.  But, the visual strategies seem to be relentless in their message of the ideal and happy family.   

In looking at this picture - the soft focus and outdoor nature scene clearly sentimentalizes them.  The informality of the poses, the intimacy of the family group, all with big smiles, and the two girls leaning on Barack so that he is the center focus of the image - all are  clearly designed to emphasis conventional gender roles and traditional family values, certainly over race. Nuclear family in an isolated setting - no vision here (or in other similar pictures) of community or extended family. 

I know this is a pragmatic and politically strategic move but at what cost?  The centrality of the normal family once again marginalizes efforts to bring in different experiences.   This does nothing to stop efforts to police personal choices.  It is a similar danger I see in the increasing emphasis on faith as the basis of moral claims, something the right has been so effective in doing and Obama and the Dems seem to be doing now as well.

(image: Barack Obama)

Celeb Attack On A Monumental Scale

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by Al Shaw

The right wing smear machine has already kicked into high gear as the first pictures of Obama's stage at Invesco field have leaked out. Of course, following the celeb meme foisted on us by McCain and his surrogates, Obama is being slammed for the stage layout--a half ring of roman columns reminiscent of St. Peters.

A number of things are going on here. It has already been pointed out that Bush's nomination stage in 2004 featured Roman columns also, and that, of course, it is a common theme in Washington and presidential campaigns (just look at the monuments and government buildings). But at this point, that shouldn't matter. The Obama campaign needs to realize that, visually and metaphorically, they aren't on an even playing field, and they need to compensate for that.

I'm guessing that the stage layout was planned far in advance-- way before the Britney/Paris ad came out (which also, by the way, ran footage of Obama in front of the victory column.)  But at that point, the conventional wisdom was that speaking to a crowd of hundreds of thousands was a good thing.

Update: My guess was wrong: they actually didn't get it at all:

Planners are not only hoping it is presidential, they say they want it to project an image of openness and accessibility to "regular people" - tenets of Obama's message.

Update 2: Some are saying that Obama is using the backdrop to recreate Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial for its 45th anniversary.

Update 3: Official word is that the inspiration for the Invesco stage was Kennedy's 1960 speech at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 


(image: Matt McClain/Rocky Mountain News)

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