A week before the election, I scheduled a day off for November 9th, in anticipation of shooting the "Point and Laugh at the Trump Tower" event on Facebook. With over 10,000 RSVPs, I figured it would be a good event to photograph, given this bizarre, 18-month-long, trash can fire of an election season. Instead, as we all know, everything flipped on Election Night. My day off turned into documenting the immediate aftermath of Trump's victory. I boarded the R at 77th Street and immediately witnessed the psychological distress that would define the day. People openly wept on the train, holding their faces in their hands, hinting at what I was in for.
My first stop was the New Yorker hotel on 34th street and 8th Avenue, where Clinton was giving her concession speech that morning. At 8th Avenue, I encountered a mess: police, fire trucks, Secret Service, metal barriers, protesters, supporters, cameramen, anchors, spectators. The mood was tense and somber. People yelled protest slogans as a row of anchors and their cameramen chattered away in different languages, the events going on inside the hotel. Scaffolding surrounding the building made it difficult to shoot. Everyone was squeezed together on the sidewalk, passersby, PA's holding camera equipment, and myself.
I briefly met a friend, press photographer Albin Lohr-Jones. We talked about the election, fielding theories on how the Cheese Doodle won, with most sentences trailing off into, "I can't believe it..." After Clinton's speech concluded, she was swiftly escorted into one of 10 SUVs waiting in front of the hotel and driven away. The crowd exploded upon her exit. Chants of "I'M WITH HER" enveloped the street. By this time, the rain let up, and I began making my way towards the Trump Tower.
I dislike shooting protests. I find them boring, repetitive, and "easy." Every photographer aims for the loudest protesters, resulting in little variation among the photos. I did what I could to frame my shots intelligently and interestingly. I won't know if that counted for anything until I develop and scan my negatives (maybe by Thanksgiving?).
I proceeded to the Trump Tower. Chaos. Take the same scene outside the New Yorker hotel and add more people, anger, hate, clueless tourists, and the NYPD. They closed the east side of 5th Avenue, where the Trump Tower sits. Garbage trucks and several SUVs were packed on the sidewalk and in front of the building. Instead, the crowds gathered on the across 5th Avenue. The sidewalk was divided into three sections: a cage for protestors, supporters, and a larger one for the media.
Supporters hurled their praise for Trump at everyone the sidewalk, inciting pro-Clinton shouting, which quickly turned into 10-strong shouting matches along multiple spots on the sidewalk. Protestors were verbally attacked by supporters. "You're un-American! Why don't you leave if you don't like it? You should be arrested, beaten, and tortured."
Meanwhile, European tourists pushed their way through the masses, stopping in the middle of the block for their selfie opportunity with the gold TRUMP TOWER sign in the background, before laughing and continuing their vacation. It reached the point where the NYPD repeatedly instructed us to, "take your photo and keep walking." People were more concerned with their selfie than with what was going on.
Again, I tried to photograph the mess, avoiding obvious shots, illustrating the insanity contained on one city block.
On 56th or 55th street, a young girl in torn jeans and a bra was patiently trying (and failing) to rip an American flag and light it, drawing more jeers, insults and calls for her arrest from the crowd. The police placed her in a 8' x 8' box near the sidewalk. Everyone watched.
Two hours later, I couldn't take it. The sun was beginning to set and I was more than disgusted with the day's events.