what’S your niche
Photographer stephen Crowley, known for his
distinctive, insightful, behind-the-scenes political
coverage for The New York Times, explains how he works
around the limits imposed on press photographers and
what drives him to make his images informative.
above: An image by Stephen Crowley from Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for President.
below (inSet): Photographer Stephen Crowley.
PDN: what fascinates you about covering
Stephen crowley: It’s the sport of kings.
You have teams, you have strong players and
weak players and trades, and schemes. It’s
always a story. And it’s a vocation you can
do that actually benefits people. You don’t
get rich doing this, but you live an incredibly
PDN: You’re known for witty, quirky images.
what’s your motivation?
Sc: Part of my motivation is I lost Class
Wittiest by two votes to my brother in high
school. But most of what I do is [provide]
information. [My work is] there for the
historical record. I like to impart important
information that’s presented like a well-turned phrase.
PDN: You use a lot of different cameras and
formats. why do you change it up so much?
Sc: I’m not emotionally attached to any
piece of equipment. Sometimes music is
better with a cello and other times it’s more
effective if you play it on a banjo.
PDN: How do political photographers get
along when they’re always shoulder to
shoulder? And how do you get something
different in such close quarters?
Sc: Everyone gets along really well. It’s just
not an issue. Yeah, we compete. But I work
differently than others.
PDN: How so?
Sc: I think if I have any kind of gift, it’s
humor. If I can take it right up to the edge
of opinion, that’s great. But objectivity in
what we do is essential. I avoid relationships
with politicians. If you want to set the stage,
and present your issue, I’ll go. If you want
to close off a campaign or the Oval Office to
the press, I’ve built a career working around
that. If I can do it with a little bit of humor
to draw attention: Good.
On a campaign, you don’t need to be with
the candidate. You need to watch who else