The trick is to keep alert


November 18, 2007|By Christopher T. Assaf | Christopher T. Assaf,SUN PHOTOGRAPHER

The Maryland State House is similar to a marble mausoleum: Not much changes over time but the residents. Politics and the creaking advancement of democracy are the session norm. This process involves piles of paper and a lot of pontification, both stuffed with procedural formality. What little evolves does so lazily, trickling along like a withdrawing glacier.

From this photographs are to be made. Better yet, photographs with visual interest. The difficult part arises in trying to create stimulating pictures of people who, for the most part, do one or more of the following: Stand with microphone, sit listening, stare at laptop screens, read papers or quietly converse in person or by phone. There is not a lot of movement of any kind. Emotions are mostly painted in muted hues.

Add to the mesmerizing mix the duo of miserable lighting conditions in the chambers and limited movement and an equation of near-cyclopean proportions is created. It is a beast at best. Perhaps a sleeping, snoring beast, but a beast nonetheless.

Looking for details and small bits of gesture helps. Knowing the principals involved and a little of what is happening - or could - helps more. Thus, if the Republicans in the Senate are trying to stall a final vote on a tax bill, it is best to keep an open eye on their leader. Then, when the Senate president approaches this leader to discuss bringing debate to an end, be at the ready.

That is the scenario starring Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (left) and Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley. The physical space between them symbolizes the division between their views, Miller having the upper hand in what ended up being decided by one vote. It is this visual allegory, added to an image through knowledge, that helps elevate it to a category titled "Interesting."

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