Is This Heaven? No, It's Iowa!
Some ask where is it? Others joke, Iowa, what's there to do in Iowa? Before relocating to the Hawkeye state a few months ago to cover the Iowa Caucuses for Getty Images, I wondered myself what life would be like west of the Mississippi and how I would manage in a place I knew absolutely nothing about. Nearly three months later, having crisscrossed the state over 5,000 miles and counting, I now know what people do in Iowa. Not much.
When I first arrived in Iowa, I told myself I would limit my stay in a hotel to just a few weeks while I got on my feet and found a cheap place to live. Sadly enough, the original room I checked into back in October at the Extended Stay America, is still the place I call home. Since I am on the road the majority of time anyway and working crazy hours, hotel living is rather convenient with fresh towels and sheets changed without lifting a finger. The only downside--ten channels on the TV just doesn't cut it.
While covering some of the candidates has been a breeze from the get go, obtaining access to others hasn't quite been peaches and cream. Many, if not all, of the campaigns employ people--some of whom have never worked with shooters before--to keep an eye on the photographers. They take their jobs controlling the show to a whole new level. We're talking Secret Service wannabes here--folks in suits with earpieces in place and microphones in their shirt sleeves saying things on their radios like, "we've got photographers outside at the arrival point...fix it!"
Slowly but surely, however, things are changing for the better. Campaign staffers at all levels are beginning to grasp the concept of flexibility and attentiveness to special needs and requests. We have reached a level of mutual understanding. I now know when to fight for things and when to simply let them go. In turn, they better understand my needs and the different types of pictures that Getty is looking for. Lesson learned and, as democratic political strategist James Carvell says, "don't let the little crap get in the way of the big shit."
Driving along I-80 the other day on the way to an event, I spotted a car sporting a license plate frame that said, "Is this Heaven? No it's Iowa!" I smiled after realizing how this one little phrase captured everything I felt up until that point. Is Iowa heaven? No, not by a long shot. But for me it's a start, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
© Shaun Heasley
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