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How Past Photographs Shape The Present 

click to enlarge March for Truth protester Dave Roeder holds a US flag in front of City Hall. Protesters demanded an independent investigation into alleged collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • March for Truth protester Dave Roeder holds a US flag in front of City Hall. Protesters demanded an independent investigation into alleged collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia.
Whatever the subject matter, photographs we've viewed in the past sit just below our conscious awareness. We use our memories of these pictures a number of ways. They remind us of the past, but they also add context to images from the present.

As a photographer, and a voracious consumer of pictures, my mind is a vast repository of photographs — especially news photographs.

I’ve seen so many pictures that when I photograph an event, I use my memory of past images as a reference point almost without even realizing it.

An example of this is from a recent protest called the March for Truth.

click to enlarge Roeder sees construction worker Kevin Plesmarki as he crosses the street. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Roeder sees construction worker Kevin Plesmarki as he crosses the street.

Protesters gathered at City Hall in Colorado Springs to demand an independent investigation into alleged collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia. It started with speeches at City Hall, followed by a brief march around downtown Colorado Springs.

I met protester David Roeder of Woodland Park. He was carrying a large U.S. flag on a pole that served as dramatic symbol of the protest. I photographed Roeder and the flag a number of times throughout the event.

click to enlarge Roeder stops to talk with Plesmarki and then the conversation starts. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Roeder stops to talk with Plesmarki and then the conversation starts.

I always keep an eye out for interactions between protesters and the public. Towards the end of this march, Roeder was crossing the street towards a construction worker, Kevin Plesmarki, with opposing views, who had taken an interest in the march. Roeder stopped to talk with him, which made an interesting picture.

And as they spoke, an image from the past surfaced in my mind.

click to enlarge Roeder tries to convince Plesmarki that President Trump colluded with Russia to win the election. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Roeder tries to convince Plesmarki that President Trump colluded with Russia to win the election.

It was a Pulitzer Prize-winning image made by Stanley Forman of the Boston Herald American in 1977. Forman's image shows a man with large flag assaulting a black lawyer and civil rights activist Ted Landsmark. You can see the image and hear an interview with Forman about that photograph on NPR.

How different Forman's picture is from the one I was taking. But the sight of Roeder talking with Plemskarki reminded me of that image.

click to enlarge Roeder and Plesmarki shake hands and agree to disagree. "You had a bad candidate," said Plesmarki. "I voted for Trump and I'll vote for him again." - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Roeder and Plesmarki shake hands and agree to disagree. "You had a bad candidate," said Plesmarki. "I voted for Trump and I'll vote for him again."

As a photographer, it's important to realize there's nearly everything's been photographed before and to keep in mind that the photographs you make are often a response to an image from the past.

I was delighted to make this series of pictures.

Their interaction illustrates the gap between political beliefs. Fortunately, for all of us, it isn't nearly as wide as the gap was Stanley Forman made his famous picture in 1977.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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