Tag Archives: Fleishman

The 2012 Presidential Election Year in Pictures

For years, TIME has created some of the most memorable campaign photography, from veteran political photographer Diana Walker’s coverage of five administrations to Christopher Morris’s eight years with President G.W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2008, the tradition continued with Callie Shell’s intimate documentation of Barack Obama’s campaign and eventual presidency.

This season, we looked for ways to continue the legacy of TIME’s political coverage during the 2012 elections — to jump start the traditional approaches to covering campaigns that are moving further and faster from the familiar political cycles of the past decade. We looked to commission photographers with fresh perspectives who could re-envision the spectrum of American politics.

The candidates kicked off their campaigns in Iowa, so we sent Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjork, known for his work photographing the ironic and often-absurd landscapes of suburbia, to document the caucuses. His first time covering American politics, Tunbjork photographed the strangeness of these early events in the frozen Iowa landscape.

We continued by commissioning work by Ricardo Cases, Lauren Fleishman, Justin Maxon, Brendan Hoffman, Lauren Lancaster and Peter van Agtmael — selecting each of them for their different visions as photographers. And each returned with photographs that reflected a diverse visual vocabulary looking beyond the political staging.

We also encouraged veteran political photographers like Christopher Morris, Brooks Kraft, Callie Shell, Andrew Cutraro and Danny Wilcox Frazier to experiment with their coverage. While on assignment, all noted how different the political landscape felt visually since the last election. After Obama’s first 100 days in office, the White House dramatically cut down on photographers’ access to the President, instead releasing images by Pete Souza on their own Flickr page.

The Romney campaign also carefully controlled photographers’ access this election, allowing very little intimacy with the candidate until the final weeks of the campaign, and then only rotating the traveling pool behind the scenes.

In the same way an undecided voter tries to see behind the political facade to judge the true character of the candidate they’ll vote for, our photographers too worked relentlessly to break down the constructed photo-ops and reveal to our readers a sliver of their personality.

The media dissected the Republican candidates one by one before a frontrunner finally emerged. As Mitt Romney became the GOP  frontrunner, we turned to photographers who could capture the candidate’s personal side. Lauren Fleishman documented him (along with running-mate Paul Ryan) for weeks on end, through ten different states. Fleishman’s photographs reflect the nuances of the conservative values shared by he and his wife, Ann.

As Obama started to step up his campaigning, we assigned Callie Shell to follow the President. Documenting his travels the week before the DNC, Shell showed readers a side to the President that had felt absent for a long time. A warm photo of Obama leaning against a high-school gymnasium’s wall before a rally made the cover of our magazine at the DNC the following week.

We’ve attempted to present readers with photographs that document a very specific time in our country’s history—a time where we face numerous worries and frustrations about America’s political future. Although this election may reveal how radically divided we are as a nation, the future will be the ultimate judge of how important this time of recovery continues to be. We hope to provide the lasting record.

Paul Moakley is the Deputy Photo Editor at TIME. 

Wheelchair Bodybuilders Muscle Their Way to the Top

When he was 16, Nick Scott was in a near-fatal car accident. He was left paralyzed from the waist down. Nonetheless, Scott, now 30, is also known in certain circles—namely, the wheelchair bodybuilding world, a universe in which his is perhaps the most recognizable face—as “The Beast.” The Beast isn’t sure of his bench press limit, only because he hasn’t yet stopped reaching for more weight. The metaphor’s an obvious one, but true: ”If you want something bad enough, nothings gonna stop you from not getting it,” he has said.

And The Beast wants to spread the word: he was instrumental in the creation of the first-ever competition for certified International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilders, which was held last fall. The 2012 IFBB Pro Wheelchair championships took place Oct. 13 in Houston, an event open only to Scott and the dozen other men who have qualified as pros. Harold Kelley was named the winner in 2011 and 2012.

Photographer Lauren Fleishman has been documenting the sport for over a year, including that first competition. She first heard about wheelchair bodybuilding via a phone call from her cousin, who works in a hotel where a bodybuilding event took place. “I got so excited that I hung up the phone and began researching the sport,” she says.

Fleishman says that when she first began exploring the topic, she noticed that almost all of the photographs of bodybuilders, at least the ones that she could find, portrayed the participants in an almost grotesque manner. She wanted to avoid that look. “In showing a different side to it, it’s a way of connecting people, a way of changing their perceptions about the sport.”

Wheelchair bodybuilding competitions date back about 15 years, and both amateurs and professionals compete in worldwide events throughout the year. After following the participants for months, Fleishman says that, besides the normal suspense that comes with any competitive event, there’s another layer to it. “Seeing what being on stage does for them, they really, really shine,” she says. “You have a whole range of reasons why they compete, but the dedication and perseverance is really inspiring.” And it’s not just on stage: last May, in a Wal-mart in Texas, Fleishman accompanied Scott—the de facto spokesman for the sport—when he went to purchase batteries for his wheelchair, which is rigged to light up when he performs. Outside the store, a teenage boy, also in a wheelchair, approached Scott to say that he hoped one day to be like him. “You can obviously see that Nick has muscles,” says Fleishman. “The kid was impressed. It was a really nice moment to see that.”

But there has been one drawback to immersion in the wheelchair bodybuilding community during her year of photographing the project—and, as the work continues, it may only get worse. “It’s really hard,” Fleishman says, “because you want them all to win.”

Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning photographer based in New York City and Paris. See more of her work here and or on LightBox here.

The Convention Draws Near: The Romney-Ryan Road Trip to Tampa

Election Day is going to come quicker than you know.

Long the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney has been gradually building momentum towards Nov. 6 since clinching the party nomination on May 29. Now, in the throes of virtually non-stop tours around the U.S. with running mate Paul Ryan, Romney moves to the next stage of his campaign next Monday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. 

Photographer Lauren Fleishman has watched Romney’s campaign evolve since she first began covering the former Massachusetts governor for TIME. Traveling with him through more than ten states since March, Fleishman became aware of how the Romney-Ryan team began to pull out the stops as the Republican National Convention loomed closer on the horizon.

This past week, as the Romney motorcade raced through Boston, New Orleans and Long Island, N.Y., TIME was granted some rare moments of behind-the-scenes access, as Fleishman tagged along with him at work on the campaign plane, and at a private luncheon with supporters.

(See more: Paul Ryan’s Life and Career in Photos)

The Romney camp, eager to reach crucial members of their party before the 2012 convention, had ratcheted up their game. Campaign events seemed grander; crowds swelled in front of more-energized-than-ever candidates. And, in as controlled an environment as the modern political campaign allows, Romney exuded a new spirit—that of Paul Ryan.

“Now that he has a running mate, the crowd gets really excited—it feels like almost twice the energy,” Fleishman said.

Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning photographer based in New York City. See her previous coverage of Romney on Super Tuesday here.

Related: The Rich History of Mitt Romney

On the Trail with Romney: Photographs by Lauren Fleishman

In the days leading up to yesterday’s Super Tuesday primary contests, Republican candidate Mitt Romney set his sights on Ohio, a swing state that has played a crucial role in recent presidential elections. Photographer Lauren Fleishman, who was photographing the candidate for TIME, did the same.

“I have been here before. It’s what I remember,” she says of the state, where she previously spent time working on an extensive personal project about the Amish. “The landscape still looks the same.” And, although the photographer was focused on a different kind of Ohioan this time around, she found that, while Romney was the star of the scene, the people of Ohio were still the highlight of the trip.

Photo opportunities with Romney were highly controlled—something that Justin Maxon, who was also photographing Super Tuesday for TIME, found to be equally true for Rick Santorum’s campaign. It was especially so after when Fleishman left her car to join the official campaign bus. The increase in access, the backstage passes, was paid for in limitations on where and when the photographer could stand and shoot. Taking those photographs was an artistic and technical challenge—how to make a good picture when you can’t get close enough?—but Fleishman found that the people who turned up to see the candidate were the real source of interest.

For example, at a factory in Canton, Ohio, on Monday, Fleishman turned her camera to the workers. “They were in their work outfits, which is just jumpers and construction hats, because they went to work on a Monday and a lot of them, I was told, didn’t even know that there was going to be something going on,” she says. “For me the most exciting thing is getting to see the people from each town come out, and to speak to them and to see their faces.”

From Dayton to Youngstown, each town had its own character—and each town had its own characters. Each campaign event presented the photographer with one group of people that made up one piece of Ohio. As the campaign bus traveled through the state, the photographer was able to put those pieces together, many portraits of people becoming a portrait of a state. And yesterday, anticipating leaving the state to join Romney as he waited for the day’s results in Boston, Fleishman hoped that her photographs from Ohio would show the state itself as a part of a larger puzzle.

“You get these little glimpses into different towns,” she says. “I want the photographs in some way to show a portrait of America through the candidate.”

Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning photographer based in New York City. See more of her work here and her last post on LightBox here

Love Ever After: A Valentine’s Day Special

When Lauren Fleishman’s grandfather passed away, the photographer found a book next to his bed filled with dates of birthdays and anniversaries. Tucked within its pages was a love letter he had written to her grandmother during World War II.

“I read the letter and thought about the importance of histories,” Fleishman says. “I wanted to work on a project where I could almost save these histories.” Three years ago, she began photographing couples who have been married for more than five decades, and has recently started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter that’s designed to bring the project to an end. Fleishman says she’ll feel done when she shoots as many portraits as she can, and that the project will evolve into a book.

Although Fleishman’s background is as a photographer, she taught herself how to conduct an interview in order to also record oral histories of those she photographs—couples she meets at supermarkets, on the street and through their grandchildren. It was the first time she had interacted with her subjects so extensively, erasing the usual boundary between photographer and reporter, and she says the in-depth working process has been both rewarding and necessary to her archival goal.

“I tell the couples, ‘I’m taking the photograph but you are writing your love story,’” she says. “And a lot of the things that they’re talking about, I get the impression that they haven’t thought of these things in years.” After 50 or more years of marriage, a first date can be a hazy recollection—but Fleishman has found that the process of remembering can bring out a deep tenderness between spouses, a visible expression of love that she can then capture on film.

She limits herself to two medium-format rolls per couple, forcing herself to wait for those instances of intimacy. It’s a skill she says is related to her work as a documentary-style photographer, where her subjects did not pose. Within the confines of traditional portraiture, the spontaneous moment may be smaller—“like the way that a wife will touch her husband’s face,” she says, “or the way that they’ll kiss”—but the moment comes nonetheless.

The twin acts of remembrance and preservation, the interaction of which allows her to capture emotion, are key in helping Fleishman make good on her original intent of saving romantic histories. With such long-term couples as subjects, it’s not surprising that some of the individuals in her portraits have died since she met them, lending another level of significance to their images and voices. “The best thing for me is to get phone calls and letters from the spouses who are still alive, thanking me for recording them,” Fleishman says. “It’s a document.”

It’s also a lesson for lovers of all ages. Fleishman says that when she began the project, she was looking for the secret that these couples all seemed to know, the most important rule for a lasting relationship—but now she thinks that secret doesn’t exist. “I thought that there would be one common thread that kept them all together all these years,” she says. “There really isn’t. Everybody is just so different.”

Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning photographer based in New York City. To learn more about Love Ever After and donate to her project, visit her Kickstarter page here.