I was in the men’s room at an elementary school in Derry, New Hampshire, waiting for Hillary Clinton to speak, when I heard a boisterous voice calling from outside: “Je ne parle Francais! Je ne parle Francais!”
I made my way out into the foyer and found Associated Press photographer Jim Cole talking with Bill Shaheen. Cole was the photographer who got under the skin of French President Nicholas Sarkozy by getting to close to him on Lake Winnipesaukee. Sarkozy brought his boat close to the one carrying Cole and another journalist and leapt aboard. “I’ve never heard of that happening, and I never thought it would happen to me,” Cole said.
Cole is the closest thing New Hampshire has to a community of paparazzi. I spotted Cole last week when he was shooting Rudy Giuliani’s appearance in Rochester, NH. Cole was traipseing around a hotel function room, the scene of a Giuliani town meeting, snapping photos of the former New York mayor. Every few seconds I’d hear a “poof!” and a bright light would go off. I looked around for a modern-day version of Weegee, the famous 1950s New York noir photographer. It became somewhat distracting. I watched an aide to Giuliani getting agitated and rolling his eyes at each successive “poof”.
When Cole came back to get his equipment — his camera case was covered with a bipartisan assortment of New Hampshire primary campaign stickers, such as “Draft Clark,” “Kucinich,” and “Howard Dean” — I asked him what was the deal with his light. He motioned me to come close and look into his camera. “Look,” he explained. “You get beautiful pictures.” He showed me one of Giuliani, bathed in light, with his eyes looking steely. “Those are real Eastwood eyes,” he said. The photo was beautiful.
Check out his Sarkozy pic above as another example of Cole’s work. It’s sure to be his most famous photo.