John Kerry at a New Hampshire rally (2004?)
In the spirit of the election, here’s a great photo by the amazing David Burnett. Burnett is a man after my own heart, a photographer who still uses film, and not only that, but uses old cameras that any sane individual, let alone a present day professional photojournalist, would stay far, far away from.
He’s made a reputation for himself in the last decade or so by shooting major political and sporting events with an old Speed Graphic and an absolutely enormous Kodak Aero Ektar lens, which is an aerial surveying lens that dates back to WWII.
There was a time that a Speed Graphic was standard issue for any press photographer, but that was 70+ years ago. The name of the game in sports and news photography is smaller, faster, lighter. With long zoom lenses and faster film (and now digital, of course), it became possible for a photographer to stand well away from the subject and still get a tight closeup. What you lose in that situation, however, is context. You get no sense of the space the action is taking place in. Burnett’s work harks back to images like this one of Major League Baseball pitcher George Wiltse from 1912*. The scale is bigger, both in the sheer size of the negative (4 inches by 5 inches) as well as the amount of information delivered by the image. It makes it seem a little more important.
I don’t know if Burnett was on assignment for this year’s election, but I imagine he was, and I’m looking forward to seeing his take on it.
*By the way, if you haven’t checked out the Library of Congress’s amazing Flickr feed, you should.