Obama Eve: The Election and Re-Election Night of President Obama in Times Square and Rockefeller Center, NYC.

Obama Eve: The Election and Re-Election Night of President Obama in Times Square and Rockefeller Center, NYC.
Cesar Alvarez waving the American flag in Times Square after the announcement of Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election.

Four years ago, I, along with 200 million Americans across the United States, witnessed the historical event of an African-American male becoming the President of the United States. Yet, just hours before any one realized the moment would occur, I took a trip to Times Square, NYC to capture the soon to be occasion for myself.

A person raises up an “Obama’08” amongst a crowded Times Square on election night, 2008.

Back then I was still using my Minolta 7Hi, a 5-megapixel-digital camera. The highest ISO on it (I believe) was 800 but the camera had an excellent 7mm-50mm f2.8-3.5 lens. The autofocus was a bit shoddy in low-light as you can see in some of the photos from 2008, but I made the best use of what I could with the available light emitting from the surrounding jumbo-trons.

As Times Square became more pack with pedestrians watching the 2008 election poll results on the surrounding jumbotrons, some took a seat on the sidewalk to have a more comfortable position.

My objective was to  depict people looking upward; mainly because the people would be starting at the jumbotrons providing the light source I needed, but  also I wanted to exhibit a sense of hope. While I believe I provided some sense of that in my 2008 images, but back then I was still too shy to get really closer the way I believe I should now. In addition, as the amount of people increased in Times Square, so did the lack of mobility forcing me to get further back from what I wanted to capture.

People of all ages stand in Times Square looking upward toward the jumbotrons as each victory for each state was announced for each candidate. (2008)
A woman with Obama pins on her blouse and film camera in hand, stands in the middle of Times Square looking towards the jumbotrons to view the election results. (2008)

This time around however, I came equipped with a newer camera  (the one I usually write about if you frequent my blog posts) the Olympus E-Pl2 with a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens to continue my project. With 3-times more ISO power and a wider aperture than the Minolta, I found it way more easier and pleasing to engage in the low light situations that I encountered while shooting the election viewing. The prime focus of 20mm was a bit limiting at times when dealing with crowds; however, I’ve become so used to shooting with primes over the past year, in particular with my manual Vivitar 28mm f2.5, gauging my distance forced me to adapt and get closer: the ultimate goal that I was trying to achieve anyway.

An elderly woman wearing Obama pins on her scarf and coat. (2012)

While not as packed four years ago (no one sitting in the streets and rarely any body to body contact, I thought I would be disappointed) the people in Times Square still carried a sense of anticipation and excitement awaiting for the signal of Obama’s reelection.  The lack of a heavy crowd did, however, force me to explore outwards towards nearby Rockefeller Center for their election watching gathering. With a bit more experience and a bit more courage under my belt (four years definitely makes a difference), I felt as though I exceeded in getting closer and personal to the subjects in front of me as well as trying more experimental techniques such as raising my camera above the crowd with my monopod to capture higher angles.

A slow shutter capture of people in Rockefeller Center looking upwards towards the electoral ballot numbers. (2012)


Crowds in awe as they view Obama’s electorate numbers increase over Mitt Romney on the jumbo-trons in Time Square. (2012)

As I look forward to the 2016 election, I will be studying my photos and honing my skills even further in hopes of documenting the election of a woman candidate. And if not, a completed project of viewing the election process from beginning, middle, and end in Times Square.

Below is a slideshow of images mostly from last Tuesday night’s event (with the remaining 15 from 2008). Normally these images would have captions to them, but the slideshow function that I’m using for WordPress have having some problems. In any case, I think we all can agree that it both nights were a rememberable moment in history for all of us.

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