Mitt Romney “Victory Rally” Days Before Presidential Election Nov 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with his wife Ann Romney, held a “Victory Rally” in New Hampshire at the Pease International Airport on November 3, 2012. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)

Behind the Scenes:

If you never have had the opportunity to cover presidential candidates this will give you a good idea of how much is involved.

I was told late on Friday night that I needed to be at the airport about 4 a.m. because US Secret Service needed to sweep our gear. (Sweep, in this context means you are asked to place your photo/video camera gear at a certain spot and then walk away from it while secret service, usually with specially-trained dogs, goes through it.) We all acquiesced and arrived around the requested ungodly time of 4 a.m.

We waited or a couple of hours in the freezing November, New Hampshire weather and the sweep finally took place around 6 a.m. ( Once your gear is cleared, you are then allowed to go into the secured area. The funny thing is the “secured area” in which local media get corralled is usually anywhere between 75′ to 100′ feet away from the podium. However, any citizen wishing to attend the rally gets to be close enough to shake the hands of the politician. I’ve always wondered about that…

In this case, the candidate’s team did a great visual-planning job as far as where the podium was located and what would be in the background. At first, I had positioned myself on the big riser with most of the local media. This position would’ve given me the airplane-in-the background shot.

However I soon realized I didn’t really have a lens long enough to get a good shot from that position. So I decided to switch to what is known as a cut-away riser. This one was located on the left side of the podium.

When I took my position there, about 50′ feet from the podium, I was the only one on this spot. When the “traveling media” (these are the poor souls who follow the candidates as they criss cross the nation campaigning) arrived, some of them positioned themselves alongside where I was.

At this stage in my career, I have covered enough of these events to know it behooves you to carry your own ladder – so I took a 6′ foot step ladder with me to the podium. This was a good thing, since by the time Romney arrived, around 9 a.m., there there were so many members of the traveling and local media on the riser that they were blocking each other’s line of sight to the candidate.

Luckily, I was unaffected by this since, with my step ladder, I towered over everyone else. This position turned out to be better than the official-straight-on-shot riser.

I was able to photograph Romney as he approached the podium and then, every once in a while, he turned in my direction to address the crowd. Then, when he made the rounds of shaking hands with his supporters, he ended up coming within 15′ feet of where I was shooting.

What I thought to be a risky decision, the lonely one at the cut-away riser, turned out to be a lucky one after all.