I’ve photographed some of the best and brightest politicians — Bill Clinton and Al Gore — and some of the least auspicious, like the fun mayor of Concord, New Hampshire, who moonlighted as my Social Work professor, while I was working on my Master’s degree.
When I photographed politicians and political campaigns in the past, I had to be objective and not let my own personal preferences sway my journalistic integrity. Spending so much time traipsing around the Granite State during The New Hampshire Primaries, I did indeed form opinions about the candidates I covered. But I had to keep those opinions to myself.
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton speaks at the New Hampshire State House in 1991. This photograph was Bill and Hillary’s favorite shot from the New Hampshire Primaries and hung in the White House after he was elected.
And then I got laid off from my newspaper here in Detroit due to austerity measures. Soon thereafter, the company’s CEO took a $37.1 million dollar buyout. The next newspaper I worked for closed after less than a week of publishing: the millionaire brothers who started the endeavor abruptly pulled the plug. After losing two more journalism jobs, I’ve come to refer to myself as a “recovering journalist.”
It took a while, but I realized I was, in fact, now allowed to express my opinions. Particularly so after the president called me and my colleagues “horrible, horrendous, disgusting, dishonest, fake, terrible, enemies of the people.”
So leading up to the midterm elections, I have taken some bold steps and I feel great about each one. I have volunteered my photo services to several liberal politicians who are seeking to right the wrongs perpetrated on us by a rich, old, entitled, misogynist, twice-divorced, cheating, porn star and Playmate paying, hate-filled, doddering, fool who got half-a-billion dollars from his daddy, didn’t pay taxes on it, worked with Russia to get himself elected and will soon be tossed onto the scrap heap of history as we place an indelible asterisk next to his name. Phew, as a “disgusting fake,” that felt great to write!
There are some impressive politicians running in state and local districts around here. Most of them are female. I am happily spending time taking photos of them on the campaign trail, much like I did with candidates back in New Hamster (as we called it).
Two of my favorites are Haley Stevens, running for United States Congress in Michigan’s 11th District and Mallory McMorrow, running for the Michigan Senate in District 13.
Seeing all their supporters, feeling the positive energy flowing from the candidates, it helps me realize that we’re just living in a blip, a momentary bubble of hate. Our national nightmare will soon be over and these women will be part of our waking up process.
Mallory McMorrow and her husband Ray Wert share a fun moment, “That might be one of the best photos of Mallory and I ever!” he said.
I feel that, in a small way, I’m helping the process along. Sure, I phone elected officials, protest, advocate for change, march and support others financially & personally. But photography is one of my strong suits.
“Whether you’re doing this for the candidate or doing it for yourself is really besides the point,” said my wife, a former journalist, who is also a new-to-the-ranks activist.
She continued, “To do things that are good for your soul, that help others along the way instead of just ranting, is part of the healing process.” Wise words.
Haley Stevens jokes around with steelworkers.
SO HERE’S MY CALL TO ACTION: There’s less than a month before the midterm elections. Whatever your strengths are, find something you can do to help along someone’s campaign. It’s empowering. Doing something feels better than doing nothing.
And heck, it’s a lot better than screaming at the TV!