New York – For the scores of photographers on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign trail, capturing the characters, the color and the vibe of the election often means turning away from the speaker on the podium.
“The audience, the voters and the candidate are equally important,” said Brian Snyder, who has been a photographer for Reuters for more than 20 years.
“The voters need the candidates and the candidates need the voters. Any way you can show that visually is a good campaign picture as far as I’m concerned.”
Take, for example, the window full of young Bernie Sanders supporters that Snyder photographed at Bronx Community College in New York, waving to the U.S. senator from Vermont. Sanders won enthusiastic support from young people in his hard-fought race against the eventual presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Or look at the tree with umbrellas hanging to dry on it outside a rainy Sanders rally in Buffalo, New York, after the Secret Service prevented supporters from carrying them inside.
“I’m sure one person did it, and then the other person thought it was a good idea, and then the next thing you know, there are 30 umbrellas,” Snyder said. “It was just one of those funny things.”
Veteran Reuters photographer Mike Segar described covering this year’s U.S. presidential campaign as “strangely fun.”
In a 23-year Reuters career, Segar has covered five presidential elections, but said that this one was different, especially with New York businessman Donald Trump, who became the presumptive Republican nominee, playing a starring role.
“The tone of the Trump campaign makes everything different for everybody,” Segar said. He added that heightened security around Trump had also impacted how photographers illustrate the campaign.
Segar took a photograph of one of his own meals when he was covering a Clinton rally: hamburger meat on a bed of undressed spinach in a tinfoil to-go container.
“I was trying to give viewers a little bit of a different taste of what we see on a day to day basis,” Segar said with a laugh.
“Your photos don’t necessarily have to capture the most earth-shattering moments of the campaign, but they have to capture people’s interest.”
Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson said he always looked for a different angle at rallies.
In one of his photos, young reporters can be seen staring into the screens of their Macbook laptops at a Sanders rally in Pennsylvania.
“Usually cameras are pointed at the candidate,” Jackson Said.
“I’m always looking to add context.”