Back in the cold of January, when Alan Chin was up in New Hampshire shooting for TheBAG, he and I had absolutely no clue whether, come fall, the Obama story — still electrified at that moment by the post-Iowa buzz — was going to play out more like this or this.
Fast forward two months, and Alan (having spent another overnight on the lip of the Ohio primary, developing film) sends me the shot above as part of a basket of pictures. Of course, I dismissed it immediately. “And what didn’t you like about the Kennedy-esque one?” Alan asked the next morning from a roadside Bob’s Big Boy somewhere, I think, between Columbus and Cleveland. And in phrasing it that way, he pegged the source of my problem, knowing that, as dramatic an image as he had recorded, it in no way reflected how a struggling Team Obama had given up the pep rally in favor of the townhall. (And so, this is the “more representative” pic I went with.)
But today, today.
Today, just 24 hours after the results from Indiana and North Carolina, at the moment at which the Democratic race apparently reached its tipping point, I saw as quick and dramatic a flip in the visual tone as I’ve ever seen before. For the past few week, Obama has been largely portrayed in tandem with his controversial former pastor, or with not the friendliest looking white blue-collar workers, or standing alone on both the literal and metaphorical “other side of the tracks.” Looking at the images flying off the wire the past few hours, however, it seems suddenly like none of those other moments and picture were ever made.
So, before turning the focus to the return of Obama-mania and the visual media’s tilt-on-the-dime purification, glorification and idolization of the man who just a few days ago was fighting the shadows, I felt (although it’s hardly a digitally-appropriate description) like dusting off that Ohio image.
(image: ©Alan Chin. Westerville, Ohio, outside Columbus. March 2, 2008. Used by permission)