Rob needed a few more days to recover from his cold. So, although we had originally only intended to have diner with our friends and generous sponsors, the Vardian-Foss family, before we headed back East toward Arizona, it didn’t take much convincing to stay for a couple of days and work out of their lovely Manhattan Beach home. By Tuesday, Rob was on the mend, and we were ready to take off at 6AM, before the LA traffic picked up, to head for Pheonix and a grand opening of an Obama Headquarters there.
Our plan was to arrive to the new headquarters several hours early, with plenty of time to set before the festivities began. Then we would get a chance to photograph the “Arizonans for Obama” group, who were among the first grassroots communities to organize, almost a year and a half ago. I was told that among them there is a couple, who had met and fell in love while organizing, and had just gotten engaged while at the convention!
But when we arrived in Phoenix the office was already teaming with volunteers, who had their hands full, expecting between 5 and 15 hundred people to attend the opening. We had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of the event, for which the police had shut down the street in front of the office where a grandstand had been erected for a speech by the Arizona governor. In the “stupidifying heat” Rob and I could barely think, much less trouble-shoot this curve-ball. So we retreated to the air conditioning of a funky little artist-run coffee shop, where we contacted the “Arizonans for Obama” to let them know we’d have to reschedule for later that evening. We rehydrated and got a little work done on the café’s free wireless network, and appreciated the fact that we weren’t around the corner in the sun trying to negotiate a photo shoot amid a thousand people.
When the noise of the rally died down, we went back to the rapidly emptying office to try again. The local field organizer, who seemed quite relieved to have the event over with, gave us the use of the office parking lot, and with the temperature dropping quite a bit we were set up in no time. We met Jim, who is taking some time off from work as chairman of an educational nonprofit, to tour the country volunteering for Obama. Then the old school “Arizonans for Obama” showed up, mingling with the newest volunteers who had just signed up at the rally, and we shot for about an hour before the storm clouds moved in. Everyone told us how ironic it was for us to have to call the shoot on account of rain, because it never rains in Phoenix!
But we did get some really enthusiastic portraits despite the harsh elements, and even managed to keep up our record of not staying in a single hotel on this trip. Even though she wouldn’t be around that evening, one of the “Arizonans” offered us her place for the night, where we slept well and took off early the next morning for New Mexico.