Sunday, March 11, 2012

Capturing famous politicians and media frenzies

Media frenzy captures glimpse of Newt Gingrich as he exits a campaign speech at BGSU. (Toledo Blade Photo/Lori King)
    Sometimes it's a dog-eat-dog world out there in the media, especially when it comes to covering famous people.   
   It's no secret that the lower you are on the media chain, the harder it is to get close-up views of the well-known athletes, celebrities and politicians we are tasked to shoot. But I wonder just how important it is to get a photo that's shot within a pack of crazed photographers.
   The photo above was taken at a recent political event at Bowling Green State University. I didn't shoot this particular photo for my newspaper because I seriously didn't think they would have ran it. I shot this to demonstrate to my students what you sometimes have to do to get close to a subject.
   On this night, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum spoke separately at a Republican dinner. To get the the job done right, it took a 300mm lens with a 1.4 extender on a monopod. Using a long lens for the podium shot enabled me to get a nice, clear view of each speaker's face.
   But there is always more you can and should do. You also need to document them shaking hands with supporters and holding babies. You basically have to capture just about every move they make while they are in your viewfinder.
   To get the above shot I needed to get a little creative. I noticed a  row of empty chairs that were near the rope that separated the speakers from the masses. The chair occupants were standing in hopes of shaking hands with the famous as they passed by. I asked one of the occupants, an older gentleman, if it was alright if I stood on his chair, and promised I would wipe it off when I was done. He was happy to oblige, so I stood on his chair. That higher angle allowed me to document the media frenzy.
    I initially had to push my way through the supporters and media to get to that chair. A TV photog was chiding me to lead the way, so I did. Bottom line is you have to be a little pushy to get close, even if the shot you got (Newt shaking the hand of a supporter) wasn't used, after all. Believe it or not I was the only one who stood on a chair!
   Yes, you absolutely need to shoot what the other photogs shoot just in case your boss demands you provide it, but the challenge is to also find other angles that's unique to you. Separating yourself from the pack is what can make you special and marketable. I should heed my own advice.

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