Shooting from a tight spot: Reflecting on election chaos

October 16, 2012 | By Justin Sullivan | Behind The Lens, News, Photography, Photojournalism

Covering the caucuses in Iowa can be a challenging experience. Being the first-in-the-nation caucus, hordes of media from all over the world descend on the state. The venues are usually small and you often need to get to an event well in advance or risk not getting in at all.


Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee looks at members of the press as he prepares to get a shave by barber Scott Sales at the Executive Forum Barber Shop December 31, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucus, Mike Huckabee continues campaigning across Iowa as Mitt Romney catches up in the polls. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee announced that he would be getting his hair cut before attending a New Year’s Eve party and invited the media to come along to watch. Knowing that this would make for an interesting campaign photo and attract several media outlets, I made sure to arrive hours in advance to get a good spot. Others had the same idea and, before long, the tiny downtown Des Moines barbershop was packed to the rafters with photographers and reporters.

When Mike Huckabee finally arrived there was barely enough room for him to get to the barber’s chair. Once seated, people started to push closer. We were packed in like sardines. I could barely move. At one point, the barber’s arm was bumped as he used a straight razor to shave Huckabee’s face. That was a scary moment that could have been disastrous.

Despite the fact that we were all jammed into a room that was probably suitable for about 10 people (there were about 50 in there), we all managed to get our photos and the candidate escaped serious injury. It was by far one of the most chaotic scenes I have ever witnessed.


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.

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