Election Night, an Interview with Photographer Jeff Mermelstein

Where did you shoot on election night and why did you choose this location?

At first I went to 51st Street and Sixth Avenue, the area of the hotel where Trump was to speak.

Then I walked to Times Square and spent some time there. From there I walked to the Javits Center to be among Hillary supporters. As soon as things felt like they might be starting to tumble I went back to Times Square for the diversity and setting. I occasionally left Times Square to walk up to the hotel Trump was going to be, briefly stopping outside Fox News
on the way.

Tell us about the atmosphere shooting and how it changed as the night progressed?

Some Trump supporters were loud and caustic on the sidewalks out and about. The Hillary supporters and setting at the Javits Center was very organized. There was thorough security searches by Secret Service agents to enter. When election returns began to come in the Hillary crowd’s faces began to flush, even early on, as did mine. Towards the end of the evening, the early morning, there were shouting matches between supporters of either side in Times Square, several of which needed police restraint.

Could you see a clear divide of people?

Hillary supporters for the most part were a defined group mostly in or near Javits Center. In Times Square there were of course many foreign tourists, in addition to pockets of people from both sides. After midnight you could feel and I was witness to fury and anger and disgust by some Hillary people. Trump supporters began pulsating chants “lock her up” and more.

What were you looking to capture? 

I always aim to capture something that touches the core of who we are at any given moment.

Did you speak to anyone? What did they say?

I somehow gravitated to several Hillary supporters with whom I could share and talk about the mutual pain we were going through.

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