iPhone in Romney’s face: ‘Ruined’ photo or brilliant glimpse of election chaos?

July 31, 2012 | By Justin Sullivan | News, Photography, Photojournalism

Working the rope line at a campaign event can be extremely challenging. The rope line is where the supporters of a politician get an opportunity to shake hands or get an autograph. Most politicians spend time greeting voters after their speech at campaign events. The hard part about trying to make a good photo is that everyone at the event is mobbed around and you have to be creative in getting close to the candidate.

Once you are able to find your way through the crowd, you are then faced with a number of different obstacles. The main one is people with cell phone cameras and iPads. Dozens of people hold up their camera phones in hopes of snapping a photo of the person they are there to see. Most of the time you are blocked, so you end up taking a picture of their screens since it can sometimes be the only way to see the candidate.

At Mitt Romney’s Super Tuesday election night gathering in Boston, I made my way through the crowd after his speech to try and make a photo of him shaking hands. It was a total mob scene, and it took me a little while to break through the crowd. Once I was in position, I saw Gov. Romney approaching and, right when he got in front of me, he saw someone he knew and reacted with an excited look. It was at this very moment that a supporter of Gov. Romney pushed his white iPhone in front of his face to take a photo of him. Just my luck.

I remember being disappointed that what could have been a nice photo was ruined. While I was editing my photos I was pleasantly surprised to see that the photo I had assumed was unusable actually worked. It was a quirky look at something that I photograph several times a day when traveling on a campaign. I think the photo illustrates how chaotic it can be along the rope line.



Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters at a Super Tuesday night gathering at the Westin Copley Place on March 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Mitt Romney celebrated Super Tuesday wins in Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Editor’s note: Justin Sullivan was born in Los Angeles and studied to be a paramedic before deciding to pursue photojournalism in 1994. A self-taught photographer, Justin worked as a freelancer for local San Francisco newspapers before getting hired to work on staff at the San Francisco Examiner in 2000, then later at the San Francisco Chronicle that same year.  Justin later returned to freelance, shooting primarily for the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images and numerous newspapers across the country until he joined Getty Images as a staff photographer in February 2003. In the coming years, he would cover a wide range of events from the World Series to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, the 2004 and 2008 election campaign and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Justin’s award-winning work has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more election coverage from Getty Images, visit: www.gettyimages.com/election.

More posts by this author

  • Edge7

    Why is the iPhone facing the wrong way? We should be seeing the screen.