Behind the Lens: Photographing the ‘Army of God’

Dec 15, 2022, 9:53 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2022, 12:03 pm
FILE - A woman is baptized during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y.,...

FILE - A woman is baptized during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. In the version of America laid out at the ReAwaken tour, Christianity is at the center of American life and institutions, it's under attack, and attendees need to fight to restore and protect the nation's Christian roots. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

              FILE - A person in the audience is silhouetted as they stand at the edge of the tent during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - People in the audience pray during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - A man holds up a shofar as the audience prays inside a tent during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. The instrument, used in some Jewish worship services, has been adopted by the far right, and several people blew the horns to open the conference. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general who served as President Donald Trump's national security advisor, autographs a picture of a girl wrapped in an American flag during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. Flynn, one of the tour's founders and its star, warned the crowd that they were in the midst of a "spiritual war" and urges people to get involved in local politics." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
            
              FILE - The bare feet of a girl shoot up from the water as she is baptized during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - A man in a wheelchair watches a live video feed during the ReAwaken America Tour from inside the Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - Roger Stone poses for photographs as a painting by Elisabeth Miller, titled "Lion of Judah on the Resolute Desk," is displayed during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - Merchandise, including toilet paper with the image of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is displayed during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - A woman prays as she faces a U.S. flag on the perimeter fence at the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - Amanda Grace of Ark of Grace Ministries and a group of people gather in prayer around a woman for the laying of hands during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - A man sits with his feet on a doormat critical of President Joe Biden during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
            
              FILE - A woman is baptized during the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. In the version of America laid out at the ReAwaken tour, Christianity is at the center of American life and institutions, it's under attack, and attendees need to fight to restore and protect the nation's Christian roots. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Associated Press photographers talk about their 2022 assignments, and share some of the stories behind the images.

___

THE PLACE: Batavia, New York, United States

THE STORY: Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken road show recruits ‘Army of God’

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Carolyn Kaster

___

ON THE PREP WORK INVOLVED:

I did some groundwork before I went there. I got there a day early. I didn’t stay at a hotel, I stayed at a local B&B and started talking to people. I went around the site, I went to a restaurant that had the most cars — just trying to get a sense of what the community was like, even though I knew that mostly people from the outside were coming to the event. I found where the hospital was, I found where the two police stations were. I did that kind of thing just to really acclimate myself to the physical surroundings. And I looked at what people were wearing, I tried to be just kind of low frequency, just kind of a blank slate going in.

I didn’t paint myself as anything other than what I was. But I didn’t advertise it, either. If anyone asked me what I was doing, I told them who I was and where I was from. We’re in the information business, and I believe in telling the truth. I felt really strongly about telling people who I was if they wanted to know.

ON CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT TRUST YOU:

I kind of opened myself up to people. And people love to talk, too. So I didn’t really take pictures for the first half of the first day. I just really observed and saw the rhythm of how people were taking pictures. It’s a cell phone kind of life. Everybody was taking selfies with each other and I just kind of worked myself into the rhythm of that event. You do this thing as a photographer where after a while people get used to seeing you. And I think that that worked well. I told a couple people who asked me who I was. And I told them where I was from. I told them what I was doing. But I didn’t hang out with the reporter, Michelle Smith. I didn’t act like a reporter. I talked to people at the event more than I talked to my colleague. That rapport made it possible to get the images I needed. It was a process. Definitely.

ON BEING AN INFORMED PHOTOGRAPHER:

It’s like covering a baseball game. You have to know who’s going to who’s going to set a record and who the key players are, and you go in knowing the basic background information so you can tell the story of the game. You have to give yourself context. You have to know who’s there and why they’re there. And you have to ask people these questions. That’s just how how this kind of work works.

I see it as a dance between the two halves of my visual brain. There’s this reactionary brain and this reactionary method, like breaking news. And then there’s the more documentary side, which is a more contemplative side and is not so reactionary or knee jerk. It’s not a car crash; it’s more trying to capture a culture and a feeling and a texture and the frequency of a thing. That takes some looking around.

Like the woman praying along the fence line to the American flag. That took some looking around to find that, but it really spoke to me about what that event was. I had to look around to find that doormat of Biden under that man’s feet. And that adds to the texture. It wasn’t just the person yelling on the stage. It takes some looking around. Observing and asking how people are relating to an event takes time.

As a professional photographer, my craft is capturing the scene. But I really believe the more time you have, the richer the pictures can be, the more nuanced they can be. You can actually find where the emotion is, where things meet and where the energy is. It takes some looking around and being able to get out of your own head.

— Interview by Leslie Mazoch

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Syrians walk through destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weap...
Associated Press

Watchdog blames Syria’s air force for deadly chlorine attack

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog established there are “reasonable grounds to believe” Syria’s air force dropped two cylinders containing chlorine gas on the city of Douma in April 2018, killing 43 people. A report published Friday by a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Germany hopes to get ‘green hydrogen’ from Australia by 2030

BERLIN (AP) — A senior German official said Friday that she hopes her country will receive hydrogen made with renewable energy from Australia by 2030. The two countries have stepped up plans for cooperation on clean energy as Germany tries to find replacements for Russian gas supplies while pursuing an ambitious policy of reducing its […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

French, Dutch ministers visit NATO battlegroup in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The foreign ministers of France and the Netherlands paid an official visit on Friday to a military base in Romania where both nations station troops as a part of a NATO battlegroup that was bolstered in the wake of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Catherine Colonna of France and Wopke Hoekstra […]
1 day ago
The USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207) is seen on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 in San Diego, as she is christen...
Associated Press

SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Warren is 5th justice with Navy ship

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren’s name is on the U.S. Navy’s newest fuel ship. Justice Elena Kagan smashed a champagne bottle against its hull in a shipyard ceremony in San Diego last weekend. Two other justices soon will join Warren, who in 1954 wrote the Brown v. Board of Education […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Hungary’s Orban: Ukraine’s backers have ‘drifted’ into war

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Western countries that are providing weapons and money to assist Ukraine in its war with Russia have already “drifted” into becoming active participants in the conflict, Hungary’s prime minister said on Friday. In an interview with Hungarian state radio, Viktor Orban said Germany’s Wednesday decision to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Low-cost fashion chain H&M reports 4th-quarter loss

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Low-cost fashion brand H&M said Friday that shutting down its business in Russia and Belarus had a significant negative impact on its results, while increases in the costs of raw materials and freight and a strong U.S. dollar made purchases more expensive. The Sweden-based group said its net profit for the year […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Behind the Lens: Photographing the ‘Army of God’