Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 10, 2015

Posts by Tom Williams

12 Posts

April 14, 2015

Why You Want News Photographers to Roam Free at Political Events

RollCall-On-the-Road-Logo(300x300)One of the most important assets a news photographer has is the ability to move. Even a few inches can make the difference in having a clean background for your shot. You want to be able to look at as many angles as possible and determine where you need to be to make the best picture. Most of the time you can make a good guess, but it is always a good idea to take a spin around the venue to rule out other vantage points.

When covering news events where there is a lot of media interest, photographers are at the mercy of organizers giving them access to roam around and get good art. Two of my recent assignments — one in Boston and one in Virginia — demonstrated how some event officials have very different views on how to handle photographers.

Full story

January 21, 2015

The Two-Second Shot

John McCain

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fools around with colleagues upon arriving for a news conference on Jan. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Many times on the Hill, a photographer has to guess which direction someone will go, how many photographers will be there already, what the light situation will be and numerous other scenarios.

And then you guess wrong anyway. Full story

October 21, 2014

Getting the Job Done in Media Scrums

RollCall-On-the-Road-Logo(300x300)There are many competitive photographers in D.C. I’ve learned from guys such as Stephen Crowley of The New York Times, Win McNamee of Getty and The Associated Press’ J. Scott Applewhite since I came here as an intern with six months of experience at my college newspaper. They don’t need to be the closest or most aggressive. They put some elements together, capture a moment, or catch a piece of light that will tie a picture together. Colleagues I respect will always try to be aware of where the other shooters are in a crowd and flash a “You OK?” look when they are close to being in your frame. I try to operate this way, too, but sometimes it can be difficult on the road.

Covering candidates in their home districts is an essential part of the job, but adapting to the style of the local visual journalists can be challenging. In D.C., there are so many still photographers that we have to work together so we don’t get in each other’s shots. A lot of journalists in smaller markets aren’t used to working in crowds, and I think they focus on what they need and not where others are.

Full story

August 19, 2014

Behind the Camera in Ferguson

RollCall-On-the-Road-Logo(300x300)On Aug. 14, I was in St. Louis with reporter Emily Cahn waiting to fly back to D.C. the next day. I knew about the protests in Ferguson and thought about going, but I had to file pictures from the Illinois State Fair and had little storage space on my computer after nine days in the Midwest for our Roll Call on the Road project.

I had also heard reports of street blockades and journalist arrests. I wasn’t familiar with the area from a logistical standpoint, I didn’t feel like dealing with the hassle of getting there.

Around the time I was thinking about it, Photo Editor Bill Clark sent me an email floating the idea of checking it out and that was all I needed to get going. Full story

By Tom Williams Posted at 2:39 p.m.
On the Road

August 14, 2014

Iowa: The Fair of Entourages

Iowa State Fair

Guests walk though the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on August 9. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I attended the Iowa State Fair last week with Roll Call Politics Reporter Alexis Levinson to cover the Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. The candidates running for the seat are Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Senator Joni Ernst. I’ve have enjoyed taking photos of politicians at the fair in the past, but it proved tricky this time with the volume of people following them.

Braley delivered his stump speech on Thursday and then walked the grounds with a motley crew in tow, including: staff, reporters, filmmakers, opposition trackers, hecklers holding signs and random hangers-on. Luckily, I was the only still photographer from the media. However, if the candidate did something that would make a good picture, it was hard to get into position, and nearly impossible to exclude all the extraneous people. At that point, as a photographer, you have to try to make a photo that shows everything going on. Full story

July 15, 2014

Small Victories

John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Although it seems there’s not much to these pictures, it is a major victory in the effort to photograph the back-to-back weekly news conferences of Speaker John A. Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the Hill.

The House leaders normally host a press conference every Thursday in Studio A of the Capitol Visitor Center. They speak alone from a lectern and it normally looks the same every week, except for what they’re wearing.

Pelosi’s avail is held first and usually wraps up at about 11:20 a.m., to allow some time before Boehner’s which starts at 11:30. As I was setting up a shot of her walking out, which wasn’t shaping up to be much, I realized Pelosi was ending late and Boehner would be there at any moment. I thought there was a good chance of them passing each other.

Full story

June 16, 2014

Cantor Resignation: A Photojournalist’s Challenge

Eric Cantor

Katie Patru stands outside of a news conference in the Capitol as her boss, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, announces he will be stepping down from the position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor unexpectedly lost his primary, I knew the next day would be a media zoo on Capitol Hill.

As a photographer, the first priority was to get a picture of Cantor. The most likely time to see him would be when he arrived to the Capitol. However, the one reporter who saw him told me he came in through the Senate carriage entrance. Most people were staked out at the center door of the Capitol on the East Front, which is his usual route.

The route change was an indication he didn’t want to be seen and we probably weren’t going to be able to take a picture of him. I don’t think any other press members saw him until his news conference later in the day.

Full story

By Tom Williams Posted at 2:01 p.m.
Around the Hill

June 3, 2014

On the Road: Mississippi Politics

gene taylor

Ashton Ware, 9, looks at stickers for Gene Taylor, Republican candidate for the 4th District of Mississippi in Hattiesburg on May 28. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

RollCall-On-the-Road-Logo(300x300)This trip through Mississippi had a lot of challenges. Missing candidates, late schedules and zealous handlers can make it tough to get informative and creative images, and this swing through the Magnolia State might have generated more stories than art.

I was looking forward to covering Senate candidate Chris McDaniel because his campaign events sounded promising. We arrived bright and early in Philadelphia, Miss., at gas station/diner for a sit down with some locals at 7 a.m. While we were waiting, my colleague Kyle Trygstad interviewed a friendly gentleman (almost everyone I met was friendly) who told us the campaign had informed the locals that McDaniel wouldn’t be coming.

So we moved on for the next scheduled event, at an equipment auction outside of town. With the visuals of excavators, bulldozers and people bidding, I thought this had the potential to illustrate a campaign in the rural South. Soon we saw a McDaniel volunteer, who informed us that the candidate wouldn’t be attending this event either. Apparently, there was something wrong with the bus.

The two cancellations didn’t help me, but it did make a really good story for Kyle.

Full story

By Tom Williams Posted at 11:10 a.m.
On the Road

May 23, 2014

Meeting Real Life Heroes

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders

Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, a member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, talks with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., about legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the group. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I had the privilege of photographing some World War II vets this week. One 98-year-old gentleman was a co-pilot in the initial bombing runs over Japan. He was retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, a member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, who is originally from Ohio. The Raiders were B-25 bomber pilots who volunteered for the first offense action against Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Full story

May 16, 2014

Police Week: We Remember

NYPD Police Week

Ofc. Marina Molina of the New York Police Department breaks down as she listens to the names of fallen officers from the state of New York during the 21st Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service, held on May 15, 2002. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo) Click on the photo to make it larger.

People were very emotional at the first Peace Officer Memorial after 9/11. The thing I remember is that Ofc. Molina held her salute throughout the reading of the New York officers killed in the attacks, with the majority being from the Port Authority and the NYPD. Most put their hands down at some point. I kept thinking she physically couldn’t keep her arm up because it would be impossible to hold — but she did.

In 2001, 233 law enforcement officers gave their lives in the line of duty. Of those 233 Officers, 71 were killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States.

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