4 years ago my good friend Reese Allen happened to be in D.C. on a photoshoot during the last presidential election. At night, Reese hit the streets and captured some pretty incredible images.
Reese tried his best to get a media pass but when he was denied he decided to shoot anyway, without special access. As it turned out, Reese was actually able to capture more compelling images than those who did have media access because he was not confined to one small area.
"In 2008 I was fortunate to land an assignment in Chicago shooting a Kimpton Hotel the same week as the election. I knew months in advance that I was going to have an opportunity to capture unique moments in history-regardless of who won.
As the hotel began filling up with bloggers, writers and news photographers, I tried to call in some favors with friends who shoot for the NY Daily News, Getty Images, etc. to get press credentials to the northern part of Grant Park. After much effort, I resigned myself to the realty that there would be no ticket to the main event for a wedding photographer! So I moved to plan B knowing I would be hanging out with all the “commoners” who would be crowded into the other side.
In my fifteen years doing photography, my mantra has been that if someone is standing next to you with a camera shooting the same thing, you’re probably not in the right place. With this in mind, I was considering setting
up a studio lighting station and doing some full length, perfectly lit portraits-but there was no power and schlepping a generator downtown wasn’t feasible. I decided to go as light as possible. I also had no idea whether I would be able to get into the park looking too professional and without a press pass.
Earlier in the day, I took a taxi to Obama’s precinct in an effort to get something different. I ended up talking with a polling station worker who captured Obama on her cell phone walking into the voting booth-even though this is a bit different type of cell phone photography-picture of an actual cell phone; I was confident that nobody else had this photograph? I kept looking for images throughout Chicago, but everything seem too contrived; usually between moments, I can shoot details or a fun portrait of the ring bearer in order to tell a story of the day. Some of the daytime Portraits were part of the atmosphere in and around the city.
Following much deliberation, I headed out with one small camera bag, my new Nikon D-700 and a handful of memory cards in order to capture history. Once inside the park, it was a surreal environment. Perhaps I looked the part, maybe it was the grey hair or my confident stride, but I gained access inside the roped areas and roamed wherever I wanted to capture these images.
As the night moved on, I studied almost everyone in order to be prepare for the moment the winner was announced. All the years spent photographing weddings, ceremonies, environmental portraits and composing architecture went into capturing these historic photographs; most of which I have never shown to anyone until now.
Once I returned to the hotel, the atmosphere was energized with those who spend their lives creating news. All the photographers with credentials informed me they were so far away from the President giving his speech, unable to move from the bleachers and only able to get images on their 400mm zoom lenses-which still weren’t that effective. Turns out that being denied credentials was one of the best things that could’ve happened!
However “sentimental” this may sound, although this glimpse of epic moments in history are compelling, I believe the portraits and weddings stories captured over the last four years by myself and others are equally as meaningful in telling the story of America-one family at a time."
Want to see more? Check them out on Reese's website.