Following Yvonne

In the final month of Framingham’s first mayoral campaign, I followed then-candidate Yvonne Spicer as the de facto campaign photographer. The campaign needed marketing collateral for that last push to the November 7 election and I was asked (or rather, I asked) to take photographs. If you’ve received an Yvonne Spicer for Mayor campaign mailer, or visited the website, or looked at her campaign Facebook page, the chances are you’ve seen a photograph taken by me.

I’ve put together a few of my favorite images from those four weeks.

October 7

Shots from the first day I met Yvonne — taken in the campaign conference room.
Meeting with a youngish voter at Panera Bread, Framingham.

October 11

Endorsement Promotion Shoot with District Council Candidate, Margareth Shepard— Memorial Building, Framingham.
Yvonne caught a fish and it was this big!

October 14

Rally in front of Framingham’s Memorial Building — League of Women Voters Candidate Showcase.

October 15

Volunteer rally at Spicer HQ with Yvonne and Margareth Shepard.
Campaigner with Field Director, Norma Shulman (background).
Canvassing with Margareth Shepard, and Margareth’s campaign manager-Jessica Da Silva.

October 18

Yvonne fundraising at a “Coffee in the Oaks Neighborhood”, Saxonville with Communications Director, Audrey Hall.

October 28

Yvonne focuses prior to League of Women Voters debate.

November 5

Two days until the election, Yvonne holds a rally at Spicer HQ.
Audrey Hall catches the moment.

November 7 — Election Day

Cold morning at Walsh Middle School. Early start for Yvonne, Erica, Jacquetta, and Nadia.
Nobscot Cafe, Framingham — dinner before last campaign stop.
Yvonne on the evening news.
“YVONNE!!! I JUST VOTED FOR YOU!!!”
Jacquetta Van Zandt, Yvonne, and Nadia Ullman.
6:43pm — back to Walsh Middle School — the last photograph of Yvonne campaigning.
7:21pm “The Last Guard” — the last shift of volunteers making GOTV calls on behalf of the campaign.

During those four weeks, I’d been gathering pictures solely for campaign material. Sure, I’d taken the occasional picture for posterity (like the one above), but when I was asked to stay at HQ to continue photographing through the evening, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be taking photographs for the campaign, but rather, photographs about the campaign. For the Town (soon to be City) of Framingham, these photographs could be of historical significance and so naturally I started to sweat and freak out. It felt like a ton of responsibility. I checked the settings on my camera at least ten times. Do I have enough battery? — change it over just to make sure — check. Do I have both memory cards in the camera just in case one fails — check. Is the lens clean? Clean the lens — check. What about f-stop? It was dark in that conference room, but I knew things would be fast moving, so… Okay, high f/stop*, crank up the ISO — but what about the quality? — screw the quality, we need pictures. “F/8 and be there.”

*I chose an aperture of f/8. Why? Read F/8 and be there.

Waiting for results in “The Pressure Cooker”.

Have you ever wanted to know how campaigns get the election results so quickly? It’s because they’re organized — that’s how. Before the voting ends, each campaign sends volunteers to every precinct. Once the polls close, an election worker produces a tally sheet from that precinct. The campaign volunteer takes a photo of that tally sheet and texts it to the campaign HQ where all the results are tallied. It’s a simple as that. On election night, from polls closing to knowing the unofficial result, took less than 25 minutes. The first results came in at around 8:08pm.

8:08pm — Wes Ritchie and Norma Shulman read (yell) out the first result.
Audrey Hall tallies the results as they come in from the field.

After just three precincts reporting, the numbers looked good for Yvonne and the team remained optimistic, continuing the same trend as the preliminary elections.

At 8:18pm on November 7, John Stefanini made the concession call to Yvonne marking the end of the campaign.

John Stefanini calls to concede.
Mayor-Elect Spicer and team — an emotional end to a grueling campaign.

8:27pm — Team Spicer.
8:41pm — Yvonne arrives at Indian Burial Ground, thanking campaigners.
8:44pm — Walk to the Town Hall.
8:47pm — “The new mayor is here!” — Beth Greeley.
Mayor-Elect Yvonne Spicer with Councillor-Elect Margareth Shepard (Margareth is the first Brazilian-American immigrant ever to be elected to office other than School Committee in the United States).
8:56pm — Town hall speech.

Photography notes

  • I took approximately 1,400 shots — many of which still have to be sorted through.
  • I arrived at the Framingham Beer Works at around 9:20pm and I checked the images on my camera. For the first time in my life, a data card failed. My camera holds two cards and I’d set to use one as a back-up, so I didn’t lose anything…but holy mother of God. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. Always, always, always, and if you can, make back-ups with a second card on the camera.
  • The aperture of f/8 in the conference room worked but the quality of the images suffered — At ISO 10,000, it is what it is, they were noisy. It’s all a trade off. I performed some smoothing and noise reduction in post-process.
  • The nine or so minutes after John Stefanini’s concession call was an intensely intimate moment for Yvonne, her family, her friends, and the campaign team. It was a challenge to document it whilst doing my best not to intrude and/or infringe — and I sincerely hope I didn’t do too badly.
  • And finally, it’s hard to keep a shot in focus with teary eyes.

Mark Ainscow

mark@ainscowphoto.com

Visit my website at ainscowphoto.com, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.