Early in this year’s political campaigns, Eric Breitenbach began to notice a confrontational tenor to the debate.
“When the political dialogue relative to 2012 election began to heat up, I was dismayed at the tone of the dialogue and I decided I wanted to go see these people for myself,“ he said.
So he began going to everything from huge state rallies to small local gatherings. And he took along his cameras.
Breitenbach’s photography isn’t a casual pursuit. He is a senior professor of photography at the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies at Daytona State College where he has taught for more than 30 years.
Although he is fully engaged in modern digital photography, Breitenbach is doing this project with a Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera with black-and-white film. To date, he’s shot about 300 rolls of 12-exposure black-and-white film and he’ll keep going through election day in November.
His photos aren’t like the ones most people see from news media coverage. They don’t feature the speakers or the candidates but people to the side. Breitenbach said he would often find himself in a gaggle of dozens of journalists and then move away. The people he captures are often seen waiting, caught in an odd moment between events.
“It’s those in-between moments that define character,” said Breitenbach. “Some of this stuff is just quirky. And for me, the quirkiness defines some of insane aspects of the campaign.”
Although his photos have a distinctive look, a political point-of-view is harder to discern. Breitenbach said that he’s given up on predicting how someone else will interpret his photos and that his own social stance has taken a bit of a back seat as he has gone into the field.
“I would see the people, whether I agreed with them or not, as people just trying to make sense of things,“ said Breitenbach.