Funny campaign moments net honors from White House News Photographers Association
EDITOR'S NOTE: Announced this week, Orlando Sentinel photographer Joe Burbank won two awards in the prestigious White House News Photographers Association's National Eyes of History contest. He won both second and third-place awards in the Political Humor category for his coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign. His work was judged against many Washington-based and wire service photographers covering the campaigns full-time.

His second-place winner showed security personnel guarding Newt Gingrich's
campaign bus during a campaign stop in Celebration. His third-place winner showed President Obama reacting to a wrong-number phone call he made at an Orlando campaign headquarters. Joe offers these thoughts on the winning images honored by the WHNPA:

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Funny things happen in presidential campaigns.

Despite best laid plans by staffers, consultants and volunteers, unplanned moments can pop-up even in the most rigorously-controlled photo-ops, often creating humorous scenes and occasionally even news.

As a photographer covering politics for the Orlando Sentinel, this is where I come in. I've had the good fortune of covering every presidential campaign in Florida over the last quarter-century.  I was again privileged in 2012 to occasionally be a part of the "tight pool," the small group of photographers that travel with the candidates and then distribute their images to national media outlets.

My favorite political moments happen when unexpected humor crosses paths with the serious intensity that surrounds the election of the leader of the free world. So I was particularly pleased to learn this week that my colleagues at the White House News Photographers Association judged two of my photos to be among the funnier moments of 2012, in the National Eyes of History photography contest.

On the two winning images (above):

• Humor-meets-serious is captured in the photo of security agents guarding the bus of Republican primary candidate Newt Gingrich. While waiting for Mr. Gingrich's arrival, I was the only still photographer covering that day's event, a campaign stop in Celebration, Fla. Sitting on the ground, it took a few moments before it struck me just how funny the scenario was: the juxtaposition of two grim agents, standing defensively, in front of a smiling, bus-sized image of Gingrich.

• The image of Pres. Barack Obama discovering he has reached a wrong number, while visiting phone bank volunteers in Orlando, is an entirely different kind of image. In this case, I was part of the White House photo pool; a half-dozen photographers densely packed together in a tiny campaign headquarters covering the president's visit. The moment lasted only a split-second as Mr. Obama turned his head, briefly flashing an expression that almost makes you hear the recording: "bee-doo-Beep! The number you have dialed is no longer in service." The scene was fleeting, but in an instant usurped the other photo opportunities that Obama press staffers may have been banking on to carry the event, including the president arriving in the room that night carrying a stack of pizza boxes.

I'm humbled by the WHNPA's recognition of my 2012 work. (Now on to Florida's much-anticipated 2014 gubernatorial campaign, where I'm predicting we can count on more unexpected --and hopefully some funny-- moments as voters pick the Sunshine State's next governor.)


jburbank@tribune.com Follow our photography department on Twitter @OSPhoto. Like us on Facebook: Orlando Sentinel Photography.