August 01, 2007
On Capturing McCain ......and Other Politicans
AlwaysOn brought in Senator John McCain to present the final keynote tonight at Stanford University. It was the second or third time I've seen him live in the past few months. He was as smooth and evasive as he was at D in May, drawing some support from folks in the audience, suspicion and contempt from others.
I think we have all become pretty cynical and frankly, sad. Is it worse than it was post Watergate? How will this feeling of frustration and in some cases, helplessness carry into the next election. Time will tell.
As for tonight, some felt that McCain 'wooed the crowd,' some felt that it was a 'nice speech,' others didn't comment. He talked about his commitment to the troops, the increasing importance of 'going green' and combatting global warming.
McCain felt that "extremists are 'taking advantage of cyberspace' and that we'll need to come up with better tools and security measures to maintain a safe advantage.
The Hoover Institution's Peter Robinson threw a series of very direct questions McCain's way, ending with this one: "how would this country look in four or eight years if he earned a presidential seat?" Have you ever noticed that politicans never answer a question directly? By the time they get around to addressing any part of the question, you have actually forgotten the original point.
I saw CNET's Greg Sandoval capturing the event from the front row as I passed with my zoom in an effort to get McCain's essence. Greg writes, "he was asked several times to provide details about how he would tackle global warming. His answer was to start by keeping the government out of the equation as much as possible."
I'm not sure that I really managed to capture his essence. McCain doesn't move as quickly as John Edwards does, so from that perspective, he's easier to shoot, but his face lacks consistent personality, making it tougher to deliver a great result.
I found Al Gore fun to shoot. It's as if he is waiting for the camera to come his way, throwing you rich expressions and programmed smiles. He moves towards the audience giving you more than his profile. Those who are not as aware as Gore delivers a side profile for most of their interview. Gore also occasionally wears cowboy boots, which gives a photographer contrast and energy.
As for Clinton, the only time I shot him (at TED this past year), he was quietly sheltered behind a podium, his soft spoken voice matching his personality that night. He was in retreat rather than engage mode and also seemed tired, so I wasn't able to capture any expression. Then again, maybe I just need more practice.
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