The Ubiquitous Camera Phone

Supporters of President Barack Obama strain to get a photo as he greets a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Supporters of President Barack Obama strain to get a photo as he greets a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sean D. Elliot/The Day

It's called the rope line, when the politician steps off the stage, or the plane, or out of a building, and walks along a line of supporters behind a rope or perhaps a more substantial barrier.

When I was getting started in my career, and for many years thereafter, the politician in question, usually the President of the U.S. or perhaps candidate for the office though I've seen it for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates as well, would face a horde of outstretched hands grasping for even the slightest touch.

All that has changed with the advent of the camera phone. In those days of yore there would always be a camera or two in the mix, a compact instamatic or the sort, just enough for a snapshot that might end up in the family scrapbook for years to come. But now, the interest in the physical contact has been all but replaced by the need to document the moment.

Even those in the very front row as President Barack Obama made his way off the stage at Central Connecticut State University's Detrick Gymnasium Wednesday were more focused on getting their photos.

It started slowly at first. Waiting on the riser erected for the media I could watch as a phone would poke above the crowd and either be pointed back at the holder for a "selfie" amongst the crowd, or slowly panned around the room, presumably to capture a video panorama of the scene.

Once the President took the stage I watched as the phones rose and fell in waves. Whenever the President turned I would notice the phones lowered, only to rise again when he turned back to that part of the crowd.

Given what I know of the technical limitations of the smart phone camera, I can only think the vast majority of those photographers might be better served by concentrating on listening to the words spoken and perhaps reaching for that fleeting touch, the memory might be clearer than the photos ever will be.

President Barack Obama greets supporters as he arrives to a packed Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
President Barack Obama greets supporters as he arrives to a packed Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Supporters snap photos as President Barack Obama greets them after addressing a packed crowd at Detrick Gymnasium at Central Connecticut State University Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sean D. Elliot/The Day
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