The Backlash Election: Campaign ’16 In Pictures – A Lecture by Michael Shaw

– Tonight, we’re talking about four
score and seven years ago. Something like that, about a great divide that splits this country. It’s called politics. And it is the most
serious issue of our time. Maybe the most serious election in the history of this country. For those who are foreigners,
it is not typical, but it is also part of a
ongoing political divide that exists in this country,
really, since our founding. And pronounced in many
ways during the Civil War, and the same issues are
creating a great divide. And now we have more information, more media, more opportunities, to look at who our candidates are. But we may not have any
more realistic understanding of the process, or who or what they are. So given that media, given visual media is so
prominent in all of this, Michael has chosen to parse it with us. And I’m not gonna say anymore. Thank you. (applause) – Good evening. It’s good to see a lot of you again. I’m gonna go through a
little summary of our site, so it’s gonna be much
shorter than yesterday, but just bear with me
if you were here before. I am Michael Shaw,
publisher of the non-profit, visual and media literacy
site, Reading the Pictures. Launched in 2004, we analyze news and documentary photography
on a daily basis, we’re the only site that does that. We are closely followed by
the news and visual media, the photo journalism community,
university journalism, photojournalism, and
communication programs, and citizens interested in
politics and visual culture. And you can find us on
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and on our own
site, To give you a brief
overview of what we do, we look at how traditional
media and social media frame major visual news stories, and what kinds of
information and messaging those images convey. We look at how news
photography is changing, becoming more prominent. Someone recognized the picture, right? Become more prominent,
powerful and controversial, especially in the way it
interacts with social media. And for those of you who
don’t recognize the picture, this was a portrait an
airline passenger took earlier this year with a hijacker. We examine the extent to which news photos are delivering news and information versus sensationalism and spectacle. That’s a favela in the foreground, and Rio’s Olympic stadium behind. We look at the representation
of race, class, gender, age, and other social concerns. And that’s a confrontation on
a French beach over a burkini. We look at aesthetics,
particularly how news photography has been borrowing from art
and documentary photography, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. And this artful award-winning
photo from 2010, shot for GQ, shows the water surface after the BP oil rig explosion
in the Gulf of Mexico. Informative or just pretty? We look at the overlap
between news photography and political communications, or what used to be called propaganda. We look at the overlap
between news and PR, and the pervasiveness
of personality politics, and cultural celebrity. We examine how and how much people have become public brands, and the extent to which public
identity and public roles have been overshadowed by
political and cultural celebrity. And this is Sean Penn doing
a self-assigned interview for Rolling Stone, with the
drug lord, Chapo Guzman. We address ethics and best practices, and also do some photo forensics
and investigative analysis. We’ve uncovered misrepresentation
in a major photo contest, and the staging of
photographs in war zones. We also host the Reading
the Picture Salon, where we engage professional
editors and photographers from the photo world, as
well as visual educators, to analyze visual coverage of
the top stories of the day. An exciting exercise in
media and visual literacy, these participants analyze a select edit of nine to 10 individual images online in a live Google hangout with
accompanying audience chat. And by the way, you might
notice, that’s our old name. We changed our name this
year, so you might see that, Bag News or Bag News Notes, on
a couple of different slides. Don’t panic. But we’re here today to
talk about the election. We all know something radical has happened in the course of this presidential cycle. With each passing year, political
gridlock and polarization has left the public feeling
increasingly marginalized, frustrated, ambivalent, and angry. Consequently, what we’ve
seen from the beginning, is a backlash to business as usual, targeting the posturing, the
rituals, the coronations. I think it’s also a reason
why selfies have played such a prominent visual
role in this cycle. I think it’s a way
citizens could at least– (audience laughter) It’s a way citizens could at least imagine some sense of power and control. From early on in the campaign, contract photographers and freelancers, especially on Twitter and Instagram, have been challenging the
campaign process and its rituals. Yes, we have seen this kind
of satire and irony before. We saw it in large doses in 2012 and 2008. But we’ve also seen a lot
more images this year, pulling back the curtain, and pictures that in other
years, I’m convinced, would not have ever seen the light of day. In my mind, this refusing to
take the campaign at face value comes from a more democratic
and populous posture. If you think Mark Twain or Will Rogers, it’s a wry defense of
the American instinct. Complicating the issue though, what we also encountered,
and continue to encounter, are candidates hoping to
capitalize on that alienation, by acting more angry, more
crass, more outside-the-system, and more upset with the status quo. Consequently, I think we’ve
gotten a confusing picture. By mimicking the public’s
frustration and anger, the candidates made it
difficult, if impossible, to visualize the larger mood on its own. Instead, the photography,
like a body fighting a virus, seemed to overwhelmingly
target and chip away at the artificiality, and those
that would exploit the mood. That’s what we see here, by the way, in this photo by Stephen Crowley. Our tagline for the painterly photo was, Old Glory in the Underworld. To better appreciate these dynamics, I’d like to step you chronologically through photos from the
past year and a half, up through the early primaries, then jump to the conventions, then I’d like to focus on some photos that get outside the anger, the negation, and the preoccupation within authenticity, to articulate a more
thoughtful and affirming sense of this uniquely American exercise. So let’s go back. Let’s go back almost
exactly two years ago, September 30th, 2014. I saw this as the first
campaign ’16 photo op. It’s a Clinton tweet celebrating the birth of their granddaughter. Setting the stage for
the Clinton candidate, and the Clinton candidate persona, we see the wife, the
mother, the grandmother, the framing of a happy marriage. Well, little did they
know what this election had in store for warm and fuzzy. This is 16 months later, it’s March 2015. We see Ted Cruz at Liberty University, doing a walkthrough before
announcing his candidacy. And it’s all about theater and
drama and creating an aura, but again, it’s also about
using family as props, and pulling back the curtain
to expose the staging. Let’s jump three weeks, it’s April 14th. This is Hillary Clinton. She’s just launched her campaign. This is the first public photo op. Now, this was taken
though by Barbara Kinney, her official campaign photographer, so this is from the campaign. It’s in an Iowa coffee house, and these pictures just couldn’t look more stiff and more stagey. They were clearly not picking up the mood in the electorate, whatsoever. (audience laughter)
Okay, same week. Saturday Night Live profiles
the campaign launch. Different tone. Kate McKinnon as Hillary is trying to make a cellphone video for the American people, and she can’t do it. She’s feeling too much
hostility, too much entitlement. So the skit emphasizes
the difference between the public face and private face. And there’s an attempt to
break down the difference. It’s going after that artificiality. Great, that’s pretty standard
for political parody, in any year, right? But this year, it’s edgier, and it’s hitting a country, a population, an electorate, that’s
in a much testier mood. This is a month later
in Iowa, May 19th, 2015. This photo was taken by
Danny Wilcox Frasier, posted on Instagram. And we’re starting to see
the backlash take shape. What’s happening in real life is that the reporters at this press conference, rare Hillary Clinton press conference, they’re trying to get her attention. But Frasier crops it in such a way that it looks like finger pointing. The larger theme is how much
candidates in the process are not just on the hot seat, but in the line of fire this year. And talking about line of fire, if you remember this photo. This is another month
later, it’s June 20, 2015. Talk about projecting hostility. This was taken at a pro-gun,
pro-2nd Amendment event at an Iowa shooting club. And, now, it’s important
to understand though, that this Cruz event occurred just three days after the mass murder at the Charleston church
in South Carolina, in which Dylann Roof was
hoping to start a race war and killed nine people
including the senior pastor. Back to the tone again,
it’s curious that this photo was ever approved for circulation. It certainly seems like it was channeling the campaign’s harsher mood, certainly. Perhaps it was also punishing Cruz for, for ignoring, or even
exploiting the church shooting and the culture of violence. What happened next, by the way, is that right-wing sites
led by Breitbart Media, unleashed an online barrage against AP. Just, well, they were totally
offended by the picture. Whether the result of second
thoughts, or intimidation, the news wire apologized for the photo and stopped circulating it. This is three weeks later. And this photo was included in a July 4th, New York Times feature
on campaign selfies. It was taken by a lobbyist
working in the Iowa State House named Maggie Fitzgerald, that’s her, and she had plenty of access
to presidential candidates, ’cause they basically live in Iowa for a year before the caucus. But Fitzgerald’s pictures
were much different than the others in the Times piece. The other selfies that citizens took were more about simply scoring
a trophy or a souvenir. Given the humor, I’m not sure the editors really cared about the difference though. And how much Fitzgerald’s pictures seemed to actually be laughing at, versus with, the candidates. And here’s one more example. It’s more salacious, but
at the same time it’s, you can see why Trump’s enjoying himself, it’s totally playing to his MO. So this is three weeks
later, July 7th, 2015. And Time publishes what seemed like a rather innocent-sounding
slideshow titled Photographing the Presidential
Campaign With an iPhone 6. The pictures were by Brooks Kraft, a very experienced campaign photographer, very smart photographer too. We felt that this slideshow was where the backlash really
started to crystallize, at least visually. If they an informal cellphone vibe, and the feel of informality, the pictures also reinforced this instinct to strip off the varnish. There was about 18 photos
in the slideshow, I believe. And the first half of
them are pretty jokey, sort of innocent, all
whimsical, non-threatening. You had the Republican shoo-in choice for the Republican nomination, Jeb Bush, walk in front of a group of
Hillary Clinton supporters at a 4th of July parade. You had Christie walking down this path, in his Christie way, I guess. (laughter) You had Rick Perry taking a
photo of a fellow candidate. And then we had this. So this is a Hillary event
in Hanover on the 3rd, and here you start to
see this disconnection, the distance, the skepticism. The others were light and
jokey, and this is hard. And then there’s this one, same event. And it’s really interesting,
this shot by Kraft. You can say it’s just an innocent photo. Here’s somebody waiting
for the event to start, they’re having a piece of
pie, there’s a lot of sun, you wanna shield your
face, et cetera, et cetera. At the same time, it also
works on another level, which is sort of like, I don’t know if I want to be
identified with this process. The whole thing about
putting a bag over your head. So, this is another example of a photo, that I don’t think would have been taken, or at least not published,
if not for the degree of political alienation this year. What we see is a supporter’s, she’s wearing a Hillary button or sticker. The supporter is sharing her thoughts, or perhaps speaking her
mind to Huma Abedin, Hillary’s right-hand woman. They’re divided by a wall, it’s the aide who’s on the outside, and the citizen having to drop
down to address the power. Even more telling and defiant
on the photographer’s part, is how much Abedin seems to resent it. So it’s a month later now
and the debates underway. It’s August, 2015. This shot was taken by Doug
Mills for the New York Times. If you remember, the
GOP primaries were split into two groups according to poll numbers. The top tier and what was
literally called the undercard. So we’re in Cleveland Arena, site of the Republican convention, the lower polling group is on stage, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to come and listen to the
issues, engage in civics. There’s two sitting
governors, a sitting senator, in that group, and a
chance to frame and address the critical issues of the
day, and what do you see? Hardly anybody shows up. I feel that Mills was out
to punctuate that point, and even shame us a little bit over it. Certainly it’s a powerful
illustration too, of the effects of racehorse journalism. Later in August now. This is August 24th. How many people have not
seen this picture before? Hmm, interesting. Okay. At the time, this is six
months before the Iowa caucus, and Trump was riding the
backlash like a rocket. And truly he was the
darling of the backlash. The media were flocking to him, they were glorifying his
defiance, his bad-boy stance. This is where he really banked
those millions of dollars in free advertising and exposure. So here he is in his cluttered
office as the faux statesman, and the media, especially Time and CNN, were clearly laughing with him, and lavishing him with attention, as he called BS on business as usual, and was defying every rule
in the book as a candidate. Well, what’s telling to us is the status of the eagle,
as a patriotic symbol. While Trump is feeted for his madcap ways, the eagle by association is left to flail. Like the debasement of the bird, the portrait also showcases
how much the campaign itself has come unglued from the flagpole. This is three weeks later. (laughs) (audience laughter) This is why a super high-resolution screen is totally worth the investment. We’re in New Hampshire, September 3rd. The photo along with about eight others, all appeared in Reuters slideshow. And what else do you say? They just tore Bush to pieces. I can’t tell how much Trump’s belittling of Bush is responsible, or just hastened the
demise of a candidate, who was just terribly
awkward and out of touch, and maybe feeling entitled by his legacy. But it was just bad. Here’s a picture of Bush
at the Iowa State Fair eating a pork chop, or maybe
the pork chop’s having him. Here he is in New Hampshire. He has his hands full with
a group of daycare children, like, good luck with Putin. Sad. So this is a month later, October 22nd, and Hillary Clinton is marching
into the Capitol Building, putting on really a strong face. It’s her second appearance before the House Benghazi committee. Whether a witch hunt or
a demand for accounting, it’s about how much
baggage and distraction both candidates have brought
into the process this year, only adding to the cynicism and frustration around the election. This draws the dysfunction in Washington right into the presidential campaign. We see the ranking Democratic member, freezing out the Republican chairman, to shake Clinton’s hand. Okay, so, November 12th, 2015, less than two months away from Iowa. It’s like this thing
goes on forever, right? This was taken by Jeff Jacobson for Time. In terms of the skepticism over
campaign politics as usual, this photo literally takes
the candidates apart. It’s not a collage, but it looks like one. It was taken in New Hampshire, and we’re looking down at
a Marco Rubio brochure, on a checkered table cloth. More pointedly, the construction suggests an empty cup for a head and
a used teabag for a brain. One more time, we see the
media feeling the liberty and license this year,
to dismantle the show. Two weeks later, this is
Landon Norderman for Time. As I mentioned yesterday, Landon
is a fashion photographer, feels a lot of license to
capture it the way he sees it. It’s a picture of Trump
supporter at a rally in Sarasota. As Trump gains traction and people realize he’s not going away, now he’s clearly becoming
amongst his fans, and his critics, the lightning
rod for public disaffection. Capturing that love/hate, and also the surreal quality
of Trump’s growing viability, Norderman’s photo evokes Munch’s
famous painting The Scream. Same rally, here Norderman
offers an unvarnished look at Trump’s brass knuckles,
the muscle behind the curtain. These are the guys who’ve
been tossing out protesters, and reporters, and roughing up others. And to me, one thing about the
picture that’s interesting, is how much it takes the
red, white and blue motif, and now we’re talking black and blue. And that little red hat, right? Let’s skip another two weeks, this is December 3rd, a Getty Image photo. So this was actually. These are the things you never know unless you actually read
captions as obsessively as we do. This was actually taken during
the 2016 Republican Jewish Presidential Candidates
Forum in Washington. (laughs) The most important point to
make about this photo though is, this is an easy picture to get. A campaign photographer
can take this picture any time they want. It’s like, glad you’re here, can we move to the next slide, let’s get started, hold the applause. It’s always there, so then, the question is, yes, it’s a cheap shot, but why did run just
then, December 3rd, 2015? It seemed pretty clear, to me anyway, that the media and many in the public, had reached a tipping point in the perception of Trump as a demagogue. This is a week later. (audience laughter) How many people saw these videos? They’re gonna be really
happy over at Time. That’s a lot of hands. So this is pretty interesting
from a media perspective. Four months back, if you remember, Time published that viral eagle photo, and now this is four months later, the Person of the Year issue, and they’ve got a lot of eyeballs they wanna capture, end of the year. And when they took the
other picture, they kept, they did all kinds of video of Trump, and the eagle, in the guy’s office, and so now they’re releasing
all these pictures of him being totally intimidated by the animal. With the growing criticism of Trump, now Time’s jumping on the
bandwagon of riding him down, whereas before they
profited by riding him up. So that’s how it works. It’s January 4th, 2016. How many people have seen this one? Okay, Iowa’s now less than a month away. And you couldn’t get a better expression of Trump’s outsized effect. And the screaming gap between
his attraction and repulsion. So the question is, is this
citizen in Massachusetts, is she awestruck, or is she horrified? Oh my gosh, I’m this close. It’s incredible, I can’t believe it. So is it that, or has
she seen the poltergeist? (laughter) As you all know, trump wasn’t
this year’s only lighting rod. This is January 21, 2016. It’s a little over a week
before New Hampshire. And Sanders and Clinton have just finished in a virtual dead heat in Iowa. The photo of the signature raised fist, boils Sanders down to the essence as an icon of the backlash, and frustration over the status quo. Still, given the Clinton brand, her organization, the
support of major players, and as we learn later, the
Democratic party machine, Sanders’ main challenge seems
to be fighting the perception that he’s simply a protest candidate. Still, no one, as we see in this photo from Iowa, published on the 28th, so catalyze the young and the remnants of the Obama hope surge either. And a statistic I heard is
that Sanders got more votes than Clinton and Trump
combined, during the primaries. Okay, it’s February 15th, 2016. We’ve now had two primaries. Trump rolled in New Hampshire, and is on to South Carolina. And talk about upending the status quo. The Bush family is in like firewall mode. This is like their last-ditch
effort in South Carolina, they’ve brought in W,
who’s very popular there. And we see a very glaring
example of the backlash. Trump, that week, felt
free to do what no one in senior government or
presidential politics, this goes back three election cycles, had dared to do at all. He spent the entire week
repeatedly calling out Bush 43 for lying to invade Iraq, miring America in a decade of war, and consuming the country
in patriotic theater. And you can see, again,
such an unusual picture. Usually, you wouldn’t see this, or it’d be left on the editing table, but George and Laura are
absolutely squirming, and nobody’s offering any protection. Okay, this is February 26th. It’s right after the Nevada primary, and right before Super Tuesday, and Trump demolished the
field in South Carolina. He took all the delegates. This was taken by Nate Gowdy for Time. And here we see a sign to a party, at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, to go upstairs and watch
the latest GOP debate. The photo calls out Trump
from a moral standpoint, evoking his longstanding playboy persona, instances of misogyny
on the campaign trail, and allegations of seedy business ethics. There’s a clear sense now by everyone that the election process has turned into a referendum on Trump,
at least at this point. Lots of visual media
and social media energy is now being directed at calling him out for his outrageousness. This was taken by
Campaign 16 visual gadfly, and MSNBC contributor, Mark Peterson. And basically what he’s
doing is boiling Trump down to his most essential organ. This was published March
15th, on Instagram. It’s Nate Gowdy again, and this is one of my favorite photos. This is me wearing my
clinical psychology hat, as opposed to the picture-reading side. And I think that this multiple exposure, really captures Trump’s
key personality traits. Which are hyperactivity and impulsivity. I’m gonna show you a pair of photos. These were taken on March 30th. And with the general election
now coming into view, starting to see how it’s going to emerge, there’s two photos in this, I think it’s like a 12, 16-photo, picture-of-the-week slideshow, that were presented back-to-back. This is the first one. I’ll show you the other one in a second. And I should add, by the way, that they were taken by
different photographers in different states, on the same night. So there’s this one, and
then there’s this one. It seems the photo editor, in
putting these two together, was either picking up
on, or else exploiting the public disaffection
and the high negatives, for both candidates, and that
tendency many people feel, that politicians or
well-heeled aspiring ones, are all the same. And then, I love this. You don’t see illuminating photos of Hillary Clinton hardly at all. And this, I think, is a
great take on her character. It’s in a deli in Brooklyn
before the, right here, before the New York primary in April, and I call this Hillary
Clinton’s forced choice. It’s forcing her to decide if she’s more partial to strawberry, or is she more partial to lemon. So it’s making light of the Clinton’s reputation for triangulation, playing one side against the other, working both sides against the middle. And I wonder if she actually knows that, and that’s why she’s laughing, that she’s sort of busted. But also, because she’s so
much this kind of cerebral, this wonky person, and we
hear all the time that, no, she’s got a great sense of humor. If you spent time with
her, you would know. She’s like really a lot of fun. So maybe what this does
is in that rare instance, is captures her sense of humor also. This is the last picture I’ll show you before I move to the conventions. It was also taken before
the New York primary, on Coney Island, still trailing Hillary. We found it articulated once again, the callousness of the horse race. Our question was, is Sanders too often
treated like an amusement? Okay, so now it’s convention time. We go to the RNC. And the contest for the
general election is now set. But both parties have big
challenges in their conventions, because of the national mood, and this disaffection with the status quo. And it’s interesting how
it became crystallized in different ways in both instances. And it’s also informed a
lot of the photography, either in a skeptical or a critical way. With the RNC, there was
focus on homogeneity, almost all white, only 18 black delegates. We saw ongoing Trump resistance. And I really love this
kind of Lucifer vibe that’s going on here,
because people weren’t very happy with Ted Cruz’s play. And then, whereas, the, we live in a complex world,
and this is an opportunity to like, really flaunt your
ideology, and really say who you hate, and who you don’t
hate out there in the world, and then drive that into
the general election. And for some reason, in
the Republican convention, it all was Hillary’s fault. So, you know, I can still hear, like, lock her up, lock
her up, lock her up. And then this whole
thing was the most gaudy personal vehicle for Trump and his family. That reads Las Vegas to me. I don’t know if it does to you. And then we had the World
Wrestling Federation, Queen’s We are the Champion moment of entering the convention, and quite a portrait of hubris
and political celebrity. If there’s a key image to summarize the event in Cleveland though, and maybe the whole election, I think it was this photograph. There is this weird mirror that was on the wall in
the convention floor, and I can’t tell you
how many photographers took full advantage of it, to what? Capture this season and this event, in terms of the theme of distortion. What’s real is surreal. And now it’s the Democratic convention. Backlash certainly made itself
felt at the DNC as well, much more so as it
turned out, than the RNC. The convention was characterized
by extreme tension, by more progressive and
younger Bernie voters, or supporters, inside
and outside the hall. Many felt gagged and
silenced by the system, which they perceived as
tilted toward Clinton, and toward the status quo. I’m not sure Bernie’s a
savior, but his supporters, those seeking a revolution in politics, were perceiving him having been crucified by the party and by the media. And while the Republican
convention channeled populous anger at Hillary Clinton, terrorists, and just the
other, the Democrats, in this wonderful scene
of pluralism, actually, managed to completely appropriate the traditional GOP themes of
patriotism and nationalism. If you had told me six months
ago that we’d be hearing the USA-USA chants at the
Democratic convention, I’d be like, no, no, no. And amidst all the tension of course, there was a milestone that was achieved, a real marker in history,
or should we say herstory? But perhaps no other photo crystallized how much the campaign was turning into a backlash
against Donald Trump, at least from the
Democratic point of view, then this scene of the Khans. And since the conventions, I through this in this morning, ’cause two weeks go by
and then you’ve got more, for better or worse. And since the conventions, the higher demand for authenticity has continued to hinder both candidates. As we see in these photos of Trump patronizing African-American
churches, and voters. This is Trump in a highly touted visit to the Great Faith
Ministries International, an African-American church in Detroit. And the body language is really telling. Far from connected, there he
is in his own little bubble. It’s like feeling it, but
I’m feeling it over here. And here in this expression, in this expression, is
still another example of the backlash mood, and
the media not holding back. Like, what are we gonna get out of this, and when is it over,
and that kind of thing. This is Trump at the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia,
with Shalga Hightower, whose daughter, Iofemi
Hightower was killed in a random shooting, she
was home from college, and hanging out with
some of her old friends, and this happened in 2007. Once again, the body language says it all. This is also felt like sort of a Last Supper kind of thing to me also. As for Clinton, besides looking small and anonymous in the crowd,
just before the start of the 911 memorial
ceremony at ground zero, this photo documents a painful fact. As she appears to look
right at us, and we at her, the sense of obscurity
compounded by the sunglasses, clearly, she knows she has
pneumonia, but we the public, two days after she learned
about it, still do not. Okay. That’s all pretty grim. Stepping back though from
all the contentiousness, there are hard questions to
ask about the visual campaign. The largest being, is this tone, and all this negativity, a true and accurate
reflection of our nation? Or of you and I? Or has the electoral process
and our identity itself, been skewed by the media, the circus, and by the emphasis on conflict, political celebrity, and
what sells screen time? This was taken by Mark
Peterson last January, backstage in the media room, at the Clinton-Sanders
debate in South Carolina. In one picture, Mark’s photo tells us what a good part of the
campaign, and certainly, a good slice of the media
coverage has been about, and that’s, static. This photo of a campaign
photographer at a Ted Cruz, is a picture of a campaign photographer at a Ted Cruz rally in Las Vegas. And that guy up there is Nate Gowdy, the guy who took the Trump
photo of the hyperactivity, and also the cocktail lounge. And it raises a couple of questions. Has the coverage put too much focus on the most vocal or the most angry? Has it focused too much on the far right and the far left at the
expense of a larger middle? How jaded are we as a
result of media bias, or media piling on that’s on top of like, how incisive the media has been in terms of exposing a
pretty cynical process? And has it too often made people who are struggling and feeling disenfranchised, look like odd balls or freaks? On our Instagram feed, we
labeled this the Know-it-alls. It’s refreshing to see
these people as off-balance, or that they don’t know everything. This is an Instagram shot from Getty photographer, Spencer Platt, taken far from the convention arena during the Republican convention. It points to how much attention the middle class has
received in this campaign, and virtually none to the poor. This was taken during a protest march down Broad Street in Philadelphia, during the first day of
the Democratic convention. It captures the disconnect
between the convention drama and the everyday places and issues. Our description on our
Instagram feed read, the Philadelphia that was there yesterday, and that will be there tomorrow. Also from Instagram, this photo by Hilary Swift for the New York Times, she’s gonna be on our panel at Photoville on
Saturday, if you’re there, with Landon Norderman, and
a couple more photographers that have been in the slideshow, amidst the unrelenting reports of anger and disaffection in Philly. I like this picture because it’s got a little slice
of Woodstock to it. I mean, has there been no
joy in this whole thing? And if there hasn’t, like,
when do we get it back? At this point where the media
was endlessly reiterating Trump’s strengths with blue-collar males, photographer Scott Brauer,
he’ll be on our panel also, was on a cross-country photo tour, he was showing a more complex picture. He actually went out and talked to voters. Here in Lexington, and photographed them, so in Lexington, Nebraska he
talked to this Air Force vet, who says he’s never been
so worried for the country. He told Scott that he
thinks Trump is unstable, but he said he really doesn’t
trust either candidate. Then documentary
photographer, Darcy Padilla, was shooting the campaign
this year for Le Monde, these pictures distributed in France. The photos are less
interested in the gotcha and the squabbling,
than in seeing citizens and understanding the process. Not to be dissuaded by the tattered flag, and all the political cynicism this year, here we see good
old-fashioned retail politics, a Latina walking a precinct of modest homes in North Las Vegas. So, here, this picture by the way, was
taken by a writer for Vox, so he wrote the story and
then snapped the picture. And we see Nia Harris, she’s 24 years old, and she was a concession
worker at Wells Fargo Arena during the Democratic convention. And so she was completely exhausted, she had worked an eight-hour shift, it’s somewhere, I think around 10pm, and she’d been wiping
off the condiment tables, and cleaning the grill, and steering lost attendees all day long, and she wanted to get home. Like probably a lot of you
do want to also right now. But so she starts heading to the exit, and then she sees a
bunch of her coworkers, and they’re going the other direction, and she’s like, what’s going on? So she does a U-turn, she goes back to the entrance to the hall, as close as she could
get, and what is going on? Barack Obama is starting to speak. And so she’s listening,
and then she got in view, she pulled out her cellphone, and she started videoing some of this, and this guy from Vox was watching her, and he asked, “what are you
doing,” got her whole story, and she said, “I’m an Islamic-American, “I’ve got a small boy at home, “and I’ve been really upset about “this whole experience,
the whole campaign, “but I really feel like this is something “that can motivate him and
make him feel empowered, “and actually equal.” This is another photo Mark Peterson took during the coverage of
the New York primary. And he was tasked with asking citizens what their number-one issue was. So he went up to Yaha Sefula, posing with his family
in Queens, and Yaha said, “My number-one issue is the
healing of the racial divide.” What’s interesting about the photo of this clearly mixed-race couple, you would never know if
you’re following the campaign, that America is like broken down into these completely
discreet five categories, of white, black, hispanic, asian, I guess that was four, or just three branches
of religion, that’s it. All these like strict categories. But in fact, America, and
this is like blindly obvious, is complex and more diverse, in where we derive our strength as much as our weaknesses. Particularly this photo,
whatever you wanna use, whatever term you wanna use, interracial, bi-racial, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, inter-ethnic, the complex mixing and blending of America has been underway for sometime. You do not see it on the campaign, or hear about it at all. And, ’cause you guys
are all photo students, there’s something
strange about this photo. Something really strange about this photo. If it was a selfie, Cruz would be at this woman’s back, right? If the camera’s on, you
would see Cruz on the screen. So you get this fascinating bit
of symbolism here, actually. We see the media frenzy, the
candidate is the rock star, it’s all about the show. At the same time, we see the citizen pointing a camera at the show,
and she’s seeing herself. Weird, right? But isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? That the campaign, the electoral process, and that the candidates far from being the objects of obsession, should always be reflecting us. Finally, going back to
Mark Twain and Will Rogers, this is quite a portrait
of this backlash election. Given how broken things are, the idea of a citizen stripped naked short of a voting booth, reminds us of depression-era photos of people with nothing
to wear but a barrel. Still, what makes it so wonderful, is that people continue
to claim their right, and participate in the process. And there’s no stronger demonstration of commitment and health than endurance, and we’ve all been hanging in there, and also a sense of humor. Thank you very much. (applause) This is where you can find us. Pick your platform. (laughs) Sign up for our Best Of email, you’ll get a roundup of what
we did that previous week. – [Student] Do you think was typical of just this situation,
because of Trump’s presence, or do you think it’s deeper than that? I think this is a landscape
that’s changed permanently, and for perhaps other
reasons for instance, are those audiences
experience in decoding, a more sophisticated approach
to decoding photographs? – Oh. I’m not a political scientist, but before you said the
last sentence there, I was thinking that, Trump, I think is a symptom of a broken political institution. I think it’s that skewed because we’re not getting any redress. We entered this cycle
without any sign of hope, progress, movement, intelligence, comedy, coming out of Washington, and I think that that’s what’s, that these images and the kind of pulling off the band
aid, or just ripping off, all the artifice is about. And can that change? I think it could change tomorrow, I mean, I don’t know in
terms of how that happens, but I think that the photographers are basically channeling those conditions. – [Student] So if it were a happier, more positive, optimistic,
traditional campaign, the nature of the images would change? – Yes. I think so. And it’s really interesting,
if we just contrast, and I didn’t show pictures,
but it’d be really interesting to look at the visual narrative
from 2008 for example. And especially the
representation of youth, as opposed to what we’re seeing this year, and youth don’t hold back. I mean, you know, I’m talkin’ to ya. I’m a lot older but, you know, the covering your mouth
with a wrapped-up flag, or pretending to be hung from a cross. These people really
thought that Bernie Sanders represented something that was fresh, and it had a lot of parallels
to what they saw in Obama, so, yeah, I think that
we could see that again. I hope we see it again. And I’m optimistic we’re
gonna see it again. – [Student] I don’t know, I kinda like the revealing aspect of
these types of photographs. – It’s really interesting. The photographers, I think feel, like they’re channeling our conscience, and they are calling bullshit. So, if this thing is a game or a show, they’ve been taking every
opportunity to reveal that. Even if they have to
do it through cropping, they’re gonna do it. Yes. – [Student] Do you
think there’s a way that that detachment could, like that revealing of that kind of detachment
could perpetuate it, rather than just reveal
what’s already there, as a way to maybe fix it? – Like it becomes sort
of a monster in a way? Like, just like, it starts to take a part? – [Student] Or that it becomes
assumed in the narrative, and not really kind of taken for granted, as the norm rather than… – You know, that’s a really
interesting question. And I actually gave this
lecture, a similar lecture, at Texas A&M a couple weeks
ago, and people were asking, has this created a precedent
in terms of going forward, and now like laying bare the process, and, maybe, but I have more faith in, I think that in fact the
photographers are like poets. And they’re picking up, they’ve got the long antenna, and they’re picking up the
disaffection in all of us. So I think that in general, except when they’re
really profiting from it, which is like a-whole-nother
thing to be concerned about, but in large part too, they’re
staying really close I think, to like, just revealing
how ridiculous it is. Or how specious it is. And I think that they move
back and forth by the week. I think that this is a
really good example of that. Could that happen at that week, because, you know, an editor, by the way, that’s a Getty photograph. And if it was a Reuters, I gotta be careful, by the way, too, ’cause this is being live streamed, but, but let’s say if it was
a Reuters photograph, I wouldn’t have this
same level of conviction, but I know a lot of the people at Getty, and they are so careful, scrupulous, conservative in a way,
and if they decided that that is what we’re
moving on the wire today, it’s because it really was reflective of where we were at that point in time. So, yeah, I have more confidence in. I don’t think it becomes
like a freight train. I think it stays pretty close to a mirror. Great question. – [Moderator] All right,
thank you, Michael. – Thank you. (applause)

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