Shot this in 1980, at the Democratic National Convention, Madison Square Garden. The “Man from Plains” had been chosen this night to be the party’s nominee against Ronald Reagan, staving off a challenge from Teddy Kennedy. The night was euphoric and celebratory, but as we all know, Carter didn’t win his second term. He had struggled as president, and the voters reacted.
Think what you will of his presidency, since leaving office he has defined himself as a force for good. I can’t think of another ex-President who has so positively used the leverage of having been President. Sad news he is afflicted with cancer, and I wish him well in this fight.
Photo notes….as always on the final night of the convention, it was a scrum on the floor. I was shooting a 600 and a 300 and trying to stand on a chair, leaning on a monopod for all it was worth, and suffering through the disapproval of the delegates who used creative and colorful language to urge me to get down and out of their sight line. Right next to me was the redoubtable Neil Leifer, who, from that position, made the cover of TIME. I was in the employ of ABC TV at the time and had no idea where my pictures were going. But what I didn’t know was up in rafters, at the command centers of the new operations, the Newsweek crew was scanning the crowd and picked up on me setting up next to Neil. Sue Smith, one of the picture people for the magazine, I believe yelled something like, “I’m gonna kiss Joe McNally on the lips!” (This was how it was relayed to me.)
You see, my editor at ABC was Peter Murray, who had been at Newsweek, and still had loyalty to them. He could direct my take to anybody he wanted. So he would make sure that night Newsweek got first look at my stuff. Didn’t get published, but back then it was so competitive, and Newsweek was always under budget and understaffed relative to TIME, they were ecstatic, as they essentially had just picked up another shooter on the floor, working for them, for free.
Tough take. Pushed tungsten Ektachrome, lost some stuff to being just off on focus. But did get some decent frames.
Long time ago, a happy night for Mr. Carter. Good luck, sir….