VIDEO: Scout Tufankjian on Barack Obama's historic presidential campaign
It's been a year since that night in Chicago, which for photographer SCOUT TUFANKJIAN was the end of a two-year journey that had started with a New Hampshire book tour by the then-junior Senator from Illinois, who had not yet declared his intention to run for the nation's highest office. Tufankjian's photos of the campaign, compiled in her 2008 book Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History-Making Presidential Campaign, are an unmatched visual record -- not just of the candidate and his entourage, but also of the people who elected him. (You can see more of her images in HBO's new documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, which premieres tonight.) Turning the camera away from the podium and the principals, Tufankjian captures the indelible and all-too-evenescent spirit of those days. At last month's BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL, she weaved together stories and images to give us a look back, from inside and outside the bubble.
There was also some other guy on the panel named KEN BURNS, whom you may have heard of. Ostensibly in town to commiserate about the art of documentary and to talk up his latest film, National Parks: America's Best Idea, Burns went on to speak at length about Tufankjian's photos, Obama, and the links to his own work. Burns can sometimes provoke less ambitious people to root against him, but it's difficult to argue with his grace, intelligence, and prodigious work ethic: he mentioned he's currently at work on six projects, including an update of Baseball (a "10th inning" to include a segment on the post-curse Red Sox), a film about Prohibition, and -- eliciting a swirl of "ooooohhhhs" from the sold-out crowd -- a film about Vietnam.
Tufankjian's presentation needed more than just audio, so we've given you the video of her talk, incorporating a selection of her photos. For the full panel, including Burns's presentation -- to see video clips from the series, check out PBS's extensive online portal for the series -- click on the mp3 below, or right-click and save-as to download the file for your iPod.
PODCAST: Documenting History with Scout Tufankjian and Ken Burns (mp3)
Recorded live at the Boston Public Library during the 2009 Boston Book Festival. To subscribe to this podcast, paste this RSS feed into your feed-reader of choice, or bookmark the Boston Phoenix podcast blog.