Story by: Lydia Plunk - Photos by: Gene Sasse

Operation Disarm
A press conference's purpose  is to be on the record. Highly scripted events, text unaccompanied by images lack depth and impact.  Images recorded at the scene are necessary for contextual clarity.
Cameras pick up visual clues, telling details compactly and with voracity missing in focus group tested speeches delivered from a teleprompter.  If this were not true, there would be no reason for a press conference. To repeat information solely using text is at a distinct disadvantage in documenting the whole truth, particularly the most important element: the human element. 

The body language and facial expression of participants and on-lookers conveys authenticity. The seriousness of protecting Governor Schwarzenegger shows in the attentive cadre of assigned Highway Patrolmen.  The firmness of a handshake conveys an honest respect between parties. Laughter denotes not just happiness, but ease in relationships.  Clear eye contact is between people with nothing to hide.  Looking in downward inattentiveness is a clue. The expression might indicate boredom or a lack of enthusiasm. Perhaps the person is weary or is not interested in being present, except as a coveted photo opportunity. In the moment it takes an eye scan an image once, a single quality photograph instantly imparts reams of information.

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As a press photographer, I have served both internal and external capacities for campaigns and officeholders. The viewpoint of the photographer is not to impart his personal viewpoint in the resulting image. The professional's work is to tell the truth in a manner respectful to the client's needs.


Before entering an event, credentials are checked for access to predesignated press photographer areas.  Outside press will not have the ability to roam as freely as a staff photographer will. In all cases, I can count on not being alone in selecting what experience teaches is the best angle to position from. However, in this matter, being tall has its advantages. 
As the event wraps up, my work is just beginning. Culling through the images, I seek those that humanize or appropriately dramatize a story more deeply and more quickly than words alone.

  Alex Couwenberg  
Gene Sasse © 2010 | gene@genesasse.com | 909-941-3993