Photographer Joeff Davis is documenting all the action in and around the Wells Fargo Center during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week. (Check out his photos of last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.)
“These events are essentially big propaganda showcases,” Davis says of shooting at the conventions. “In my best photographs I turn the propaganda back on the creators and create an inner truth about the message. More often than not I fail. This environment is insanely difficult to work in. It’s like an Olympic event, like the decathlon, where you are tested in various skills like endurance, agility, gracefulness, and most of all karma.”
Is the mood at the DNC anywhere near as fractious as the portrayals of palpable tension between Hillary supporters and the Bernie-or-bust stalwarts would lead us to believe? “I don’t think the floor is equally divided,” Davis says. “Way, way more dedicated Hillary people or Sanders people not willing to call him a sellout. After all, this is a party convention, and if you’re a radical or have really alternative views, you are not on the convention floor as a delegate. These are the cream of the dedicated party loyalists.”
Paul Simon’s opening-night performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” seemed particularly apropos, the Democratic National Committee having been pitched into a river of shit after leaked e-mails suggested the organization was actively trying to undermine the Sanders campaign. And sure, Hillary has also positioned herself as a builder of bridges, not Trumpian walls. It was enough to earn her unequivocal nods from Sanders himself, Elizabeth Warren, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama, who made history as the only person to give remarks at the outset of both major party conventions (or so went the humorous callback to Melania Trump’s plagiarism).
Davis’s photos from outside the convention hall depict a more tumultuous atmosphere: demonstrators (still!) feeling the Bern, scores of arrests, and someone in a Hillary mask and crown parading around as “the queen of regime change.”
Also in the mix away from the Wells Fargo Center was Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who made appeals to Sanders supporters as she gears up for her own party’s convention August 4 in Houston.
“Forget the lesser evil,” Stein said during a Monday rally, “fight for the greater good.”
The crowd chanted in response: “Jill, not Hill!”