One of the benefits of working the spring meetings is getting to watch the press at work (work which is really a lot of waiting around for things to happen).
But occasionally, everybody rushes off to earn their paychecks. And the ones who rush fastest are the still photographers. When they move, you know something is happening.
At Bob Zoellick’s kick-off press conference on Thursday, about 15 still photographers lurked in the bottom of the IMF building, their lenses gleaming in the dim light. It appears to be a macho business, capturing the perfect image of that prolific species, the DC policy maker.
A minute before Zoellick arrives, a staffer gives a heads up. A brief hush and then the photographers pick up their cameras and their foot long lenses (big enough to photograph a lion far across the watering hole) and rush to get the best angle. All 15 of them want to stand in the same spot, of course, and so they jostle and nudge and, when Zoellick sits down, retreat back to their lair just below the dais.
Then comes the talk, and most of the photographers tune right out. They’re waiting for movement—anything even remotely resembling action—so if Zoellick raises his hand off the table, or makes the most minimal gesture, they leap into gear. And the whirr of their lenses is just about loud enough to drown out the talking. What they don’t want is just “a head”—press corps lingo for just another dude in a navy blue suit. They want something, anything, that makes this picture of a guy in a navy blue suit different from last week’s.
The press conference winds down with a congenial thank you, and a handful of photogs bustle right up to the dais, toting their long lenses. They crowd around Zoellick, as close as they can get, and start taking pictures, as if he were an exotic bug pinned to velvet. Pretty soon he’s had enough and he smiles, gets up, disappears. Two minutes later, the photographers are all gone as well. Off to find the next person in a dark suit.