Friday, February 14 (yup, Valentine's Day), I attended the Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg Town Hall in downtown Sacramento. It was held at Cesar Chavez Park, right across from city hall, and it was a great venue. I was there shooting for Outword, and as usual will submit to Shutterstock as a freelancer, using my usual Nikon D750s bodies with my Nikon Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 and Tamron 24-70 f/2.8.
I had not shot a political town hall, and it was cool. As you can see from the images, they set up the stage with supporters behind it holding signs. They did that very carefully, moving them from risers to the stage, and organizing people carefully for the photo opps. They cheered on cue and were essentially "the extras." A large American flag was draped near them as well. Sharpshooters were positioned at the Citizen Hotel across the park, and on other nearby buildings.
The stage itself just had a stool and one of the "Turn the Page" campaign signs, and stage left had a large California Republic flag where Pete would enter. There was a white tent near that, where dignitaries like openly gay council member Steve Hansen entered, presumably to meet and greet Pete.
In front of the stage was a media buffer zone, where we would be able to shoot Pete on the stage. Folks with disabilities had a large folding chair section for them just behind that, and a couple of porta-potties thoughtfully set up behind them.
The press area with tables and electric was to the side behind them, and the risers for video center. The majority of the crowd was to the side of the ADA section and so everybody was packed in and stood for almost two hours after the gate opened at 4:00. My wife said the concrete was a really killer!
A rotating stills bright orange ladder that was really, really, high was set up behind them. I was the only photographer I saw who tried to get near the top. Scary and was not able to get above the media risers in front of me. Not needed anyway.
So that's the setup - the crowd was enthusiastic, excited and seemed very happy to be there. I did a couple of very short, impromptu interviews that will probably show up in the Outword article, took posed and candid shots and chatted with some of the other photographers. These events draw smalltime local press as well as the nationals, so it is always really interesting to see who's there for me.
Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis introduced the man of the hour after a short, upbeat speech, and then Pete strode out of the white tent, waving and smiling. I started shooting then in earnest and things get a little blurry. He spoke for awhile about his issues and his campaign, and then introduced fellow openly gay West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. Chris has been mayor for ages in West Sac, and as a former West Sac high school teacher, I saw him at several events over the years. He has done amazing things for the city, and is very popular and well-respected. He and Pete are both Harvard alums and old friends, I believe.
Cabaldon pulled out questions from the audience from a glass fishbowl and asked them of Buttigieg. Buttigieg responded to them, and addressed topics such as China, Russian interference in the election, standardized school testing and how he fell in love with his husband, Chasten. Again, while I was focused on light and f/stops, I did not catch too much, but my overall impression was the Buttigieg was energetic, upbeat, charismatic, and very smart. Personally, I would feel very comfortable having him as my President, though I am a big supporter of Medicare-for-All, and that is not part of his platform.
Anyway, after answering his questions, he got off the stage, and shook hands, posed with folks for photos, waved, smiled etc. My wife De got a warm, firm handshake from him and was delighted. The event ended around 5:45pm. The parking garage exit took 45 minutes, ugh, but the Pete Buttigieg Town Hall was a great event and I enjoyed it much. Off to Reno today to see Senator Elizabeth Warren!