Look 'Em In The Eye: Iowa Caucus 2007-08
This work began simply enough with the realization that every four years I think I should photograph the lead up to the Iowa Caucuses. That there was not an incumbent or an obvious heir to the office and that both political parties had a large number of contenders made it much easier to pursue. The intention was to describe the hand shaking, the look ‘em in the eye nature of retail politics in Iowa.
There were pleasant surprises as I pursued the project. The first was recognizing how seriously Iowa voters take the caucus process. They attended event after event, came prepared to ask thoughtful questions and, yes, they did want to look each candidate in the eye and to get a sense of them. As a comparatively small, rural state Iowa affords a perfect venue for first hand appraisal of these people who would be President. These photographs comprise a pictorial civics lesson.
Another surprise was being welcomed as part of the “press corps” although I worked with an 8” x 10” format camera. I laughed as I watched the 35mm digital photographers dance around as they worked. Crowding into a press van with my equipment or joining a scrum of photographers gathered around a candidate had to be appreciated with a sense of humor as well.
The camera often functioned like a magnet drawing candidates to cooperate with being photographed. It provided an opportunity to remind Senator Obama that another Senator from Illinois credited his election to photography.