During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Cleveland area was the target of a lot of campaign activity. Candidates and their supporters seemed to be everywhere, everyday! I decided to attend several events and see what kind of photos I could get. I figured access would be dicey as I was not shooting for any media outlets, but thought if I arrived early I might be able to find myself a decent position for some good shots.
In this case at Cuyahoga Community College, getting there early only got me in a line of people waiting to enter the gym and a long wait! After several hours or waiting we were let in and I found a position about 20 feet from the speaker’s rostrum. I got some pretty good shots from there but when the event ended and everyone scrambled to leave I noticed that candidate Obama was accompanied off the stage and began to circulate around the edge of the stage to shake hands. I quickly scoped out his likely path and positioned myself in a spot I thought he would soon be approaching. It paid off. Within a minute or so, he was right in front of me and I was able to grab a few shots as he greeted some of the remaining crowd. Staying late in this case, paid off.
A few weeks later, one of my favorite singers, Carole King, was in the area campaigning for candidate Obama. She would be appearing at the local Democratic Headquarters. Once again, I thought I would arrive early to this small campaign office and try to get a good position. Just like in church or school, there were empty seats in the front row and people already filling most of the other seats. I took a seat at the end of the row, my fear being that I would actually be too close to focus with my chosen lens!
As it turned out, getting there early paid off with me being able to get some extremely close shots of singer Carole King! She was a dynamic speaker and I got a number of wonderful shots and great expressions. This one certainly shows her enthusiasm.
Lessons learned, arriving early, staying late, and pre-planning the kind of shots you are looking for can definitely pay off when planning to shoot in any type of situation where crowds will be involved.