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The ‘media circus’ at the DNC

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Photographer Martin Parr turned his focus on the media at the Democratic convention

This alternative approach provides a look behind the scenes

CNN  — 

The message may differ from convention to convention, but whether it’s Democratic or Republican, there’s always one constant.

British photographer Martin Parr focused his lens this week on what he calls “the media circus” and its many layers.

Whether it is radio stations with their mixing boards and microphones, television networks with their teleprompters and touch-ups, or photographers with their lenses upon lenses, journalists are as ubiquitous as campaign buttons and American flags.

“None of the other photographers seem to be interested in the media, but, to me, they’re absolutely an integral part of the convention scene,” said Parr, who also attended last week’s Republican convention for his first taste of U.S. politics.

Photographer Martin Parr

“I’d photograph myself if I could.”

Most of the delegates in the crowd expect to be photographed and filmed constantly – it’s basically de rigueur, Parr said: “If anyone wears a funny hat or has anything different, they’re photographed every five minutes.”

But this alternative approach provides a look behind the scenes and maybe allows us to think about the convention in a way we haven’t already.

What is that anchor sharing with viewers? What questions is that reporter asking? What is the media concerned with at the end of each night? How does that translate into public sentiment and, eventually, votes?

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    “One of the things I like to do is to see how photographers are working and sort of speculate the kind of pictures they’re taking,” Parr said. “And then of course you see the pictures on the screens, on the computers as you walk around.”

    Parr noticed in Cleveland that decorum can break down in the media as everyone’s desperate to get the same thing. It was similar in Philadelphia.

    “It’s very difficult in the convention hall itself because everyone takes the same photographs,” he said.

    Martin Parr is a British photographer represented by Magnum Photos. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.