Photos: Libertarian National Convention – May 2012
It’s October in an election year, so you know what that means.
It’s Politics Time!
Embrace it my friends, don’t fight it. It’s good for us once in a while to think about what the fuck the government is doing with our money. Yeah, thinking about this stuff can get aggravating very fast, there’s certainly no shortage of negative energy in the realm of politics. So I actively try to mix in some positive energy into an often very negative world. One of my tools is my camera, which has become pretty much biologically attached to my arm for the last 2 years:
My Sony NEX.
This was my first time at the Libertarian Party National Convention, and I WAS SHOCKED!! Imagine what would happen if a car company fired all its salesmen and stuck all the car engineers in a room and said “You’ve all helped engineer a truly exceptional car, now we want you guys to work together and agree on this year’s comprehensive marketing and sales strategy for the company within 3 days.” Yeah that’s what the Libertarian Party National Convention was like. All out brutal warfare! Nastier because it’s nerd warfare, and they sharpen their arguments to hit as hard as possible, with no account for the damage and fallout.
I’ve been a Libertarian since I picked up Anthem by Ayn Rand when I was 14. Ayn Rand has inspired a lot of people, and laid much of the foundation for the libertarian movement. Part 2 of the film adaptation of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is out in theaters since last Friday (I just reviewed it here). Go to any libertarian event and you’ll see that there are very different elements within the party and the movement. Which is cool, people come to the ideas of liberty from different perspectives and for different reasons, I can only see that as a positive thing.
What I didn’t expect to see was how intense the infighting was for ideological control of a third party. If you put a bunch of intellectuals together, you know you will get some bickering, no matter what. That’s fine, that’s healthy, that’s cute. This wasn’t that. This was different. There’s a left-right divide within the party, not really regarding any serious difference in views, but over a strong difference in focus. Some want the party to focus its energy and message on economic matters like deregulation, cutting spending and taxes, etc. Others want the focus to be on ending oversees wars and ending the drug war. Fortunately nominating Gary Johnson as the Presidential nominee went pretty smoothly. After all, Gary Johnson was not only a 2 term Governor of New Mexico, but he gives a lot of emphasis on ending the War on Drugs and bringing our oversees troops home, while he also appeals to the Tea Party side of things advocating for slashing our national debt, limiting government’s size and scope and spending, and freeing up our markets with less regulations. That went fine. All hell broke loose during the nominating process for the party’s National Chair position. The more radical faction surprised everyone with a well planned coup to put in very strong Anti-War people into Chair, Vice Chair and executive party positions. Someone paid for busloads of anti-war delegates and many already printed signs encouraging a majority to exercise the “None Of The Above” voting option in order to restart the nominating processes and get their guys in office. And they succeeded. Long term I think that was a very bad play, it caused some bad blood. But I’ve got to hand it to them, that was impressive.
Anyway, yeah, so there was some contention at the convention, and some hurt feelings. Until I posted a Facebook album of convention photos I took. Then something magical happened. People suddenly felt a lot more united again. The photos made them look important. The photos made the movement look important. They liked how there were portrayed. They were proud to be part of that crowd. They saw themselves as part of the same group again, united by the same force. Many changed their profile picture to one of my black and white shots. Seemingly sworn enemies would tag each other and comment on how good the other looked and start making jokes again. It was amazing having a front row seat to this, getting a facebook notification for every like, comment, and profile picture change.
So that’s my small contribution towards the cause. I want to see these nerds look better, and be more cooperative. But I’m not a professional photographer. Never charged for a photo. It’s just a hobby. I’ve only started taking photography more seriously about 2 years ago when I upgraded from a point and shoot to the Sony NEX. I’ve only learned what aperture means about a year ago. So I’m still kind of raw, but I’m building my confidence behind the lens. Especially as I’ve now got over a 1000 profile pictures to my credit. Seriously, that’s insane! That count explodes every time I shoot a convention.
There’s a couple things in my mind when shooting a convention or a conference. First of all I tend to shoot black & white in that environment because I think conferences look very boring in color. This is not a pool party on a sunny day, or a luscious garden. The background is white walls and carpet with nauseating color patterns. Besides, the people that come to conferences tend to think they’re involved in something important, and black and white makes them look more historically significant and epic.
The next thing I think about is being sneaky. I’m trying to capture the person in their moment. I want a part of who they are revealed in the image. Those are more interesting photos to me. That’s my challenge when I shoot. Posed shots of people smiling at the camera are ok, but they’re usually kind of boring because there’s really nothing very interesting about them. Also, when people know there’s a camera pointed at them, their guard goes WAY up, and you lose the authenticity of their personality in the shot. That means I lost my shot, and I’m annoyed. I totally understand, because I’m like that too, I’m not the most photogenic and I get a little uncomfortable when a camera is pointed at me. My only options are to take photos before they realize a camera is around, or to snap off so many damn shots until they become numb to the camera and drop their guard, behaving normally again.
Either way the small size of the NEX is a huge blessing. Having an APS-C DSLR size sensor in a camera that fits in my pocket has been incredibly valuable to me, and opened me up to much more of what photography is about. Because it’s small enough to be with me in normal social interactions, it’s not very intrusive and intimidating, it’s allowed me to capture so many more moments that I would have otherwise not kept visualized. Moments that have brought my friends together to bond over and even help mend their friendships.
Beyond the ideas, an ideological movement has many other pieces of the puzzle needed for resonating and becoming successful. In our digital Facebook age, we can’t over emphasize the importance of photos that capture our important moments and allow us to share these memories with others.
I shot all photos from the Libertarian National Convention with a Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 on a Sony NEX 5n