Trump card

Joe McNally on shoot­ing ‘The Don­ald’

NPhoto - - Front Page - Joe McNally WWW.JOEMCNALLY.COM

This is not a po­lit­i­cal col­umn, saints be praised. I talk about Group A, Chan­nel 1, and stuff like that, not the re­sults of the lat­est po­lit­i­cal polls.

But the life of a pho­tog­ra­pher is punc­tu­ated with en­coun­ters, large and small. And you make pic­tures of th­ese en­coun­ters! That’s the job. In the ’80s I pho­tographed Trump for Newsweek and Bi­den for Peo­ple. Dif­fer­ent mag­a­zines, dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. Trump was a week-long en­counter, Bi­den just a day or so. Trump was in colour, with lights and an as­sis­tant. Bi­den was by my­self, no flash, work­ing with win­dow light. I’m a gen­er­al­ist, do­ing what the job re­quires, so I was com­fort­able with both ap­proaches.

The re­cent roiled po­lit­i­cal wa­ters caused me to do a bit of an ar­chive rum­mage, which was, well, in­ter­est­ing. I think the sto­ries, and the way I had to ap­proach them, might have mir­rored the men.

Trump was all in colour, all glitz and pow­er­house ego, and I did my req­ui­site light­ing and stag­ing. Bi­den I met at the train sta­tion in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware [where he was Sen­a­tor at the time], and we shared a Metro­liner train to his Se­nate of­fice. I shot in B&W, with avail­able light, all day. The Trump days were of­ten set-up-and-wait. With Bi­den, it was shoot and move, shoot and move, all day, my cam­era bag over my shoul­der.

Trump gadded about in what he claimed at the time was the only non-mil­i­tary Puma he­li­copter in ser­vice in the world. Bi­den had, well, the Metro­liner. And some big win­dows in his of­fice, thank­fully.

Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and win was the big, un­miss­able news story of 2016. Bi­den chose not to run for pres­i­dent. Two dif­fer­ent peo­ple, two sets of very dif­fer­ent coverage, done in very dif­fer­ent ways.

That’s the job of a pho­tog­ra­pher. You adapt. You keep your views and opin­ions to your­self and you cover the job. On those days, you sim­ply ob­serve the world you are as­signed to, and you make pic­tures. And those pic­tures stick with you, amaz­ingly. Th­ese jobs were shot in the ’80s! And here, now, I have cause to look at them again. What a won­der­ful and for­ever rel­e­vant thing we do, us pho­tog types.

Trump was all in colour, all glitz and pow­er­house ego

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