One of the things I stress to my students in the photojournalism classes I teach is to find a different angle. When you see a group of photographers gathered in one area, go to the opposite side.
I was fortunate enough to photograph former President Bill Clinton at a rally at the University of Central Arkansas recently and put that to practical application.
I’ve photographed a few dignitaries at UCA, from Ray Charles to Bill Cosby to Ben Stiller; on the political side, the range from Michael Moore to Ann Coulter and Karl Rove. So, I kinda know the drill. Meet and greets, shaking hands, etc. But, having Pres. Clinton at a rally also presented some opportunities to delve back into my photojournalism roots.
And part of that was fighting for a different angle than the media scrum.
Generally, you’re herded into one space with all the other news outlets, which generally doesn’t present a great – or at least different – angle. However, UCA President Tom Courtway really wanted a photo taken with Pres. Clinton and had me stay with him during the course of the event. So, I walked over with him and hung out until the presidential motorcade arrived.
I thought being there with the UCA president would be okay, but I found out later by the local coordinator of security that the Secret Service came close to giving me the boot since I didn’t have credentials. Fortunately, he vouched for me and I didn’t land on any watch lists as a result.
Plus, it gave me great access.
Pres. Clinton arrived and did the meet and greet photos and was quickly whisked inside. We were able to take a place in the VIP area, which gave me a view of the podium from a side view, completely perpendicular to the riser where the remaining media were standing. So, when Sen. Mark Pryor decided to take a selfie with Clinton, I had a totally unique angle from the other shooters.
It was a fun and interesting event which made me remember some of the things I really enjoyed about photojournalism. Most notably, cranking out a photo that captured the essence of an event under fast-approaching deadlines.
As well as coming up with something that not everyone else saw or captured.