by André D. Wagner
On election night I was out at a bar, thinking I would just go and get something to eat and see what happens. When some of the first couple of states were announced, people were saying “Oh, Hillary should have won this one, but, oh, everything will be fine. Hillary is going to win.” I felt like the whole beginning of it was going in the opposite way than everyone had expected. At first I though, “Ok, this is interesting.” I left the bar pretty early, it was still early in the night, I think I was home probably by 9 p.m. I was watching TV and doing some work, and went to bed early that night. I wanted to stay up and see what was going to happen but I think I was just tired and thought, “I’ll find out in the morning.” I went to bed and I woke up around midnight, and I went to Twitter and everybody in my feed was talking about how Trump was going to win. At first I was like, “Am I really awake? What is going on?”
I got out of bed, and turned on the TV, and I was like, “No, this is real. Trump is about to win.” Initially I had all of these thoughts and feelings going on in my head, but I am a photographer, and it makes sense that I am a photographer, because a lot of the time I have difficulties with words, trying to express myself in a way that is poignant. So I was actually texting one of my good friends, Aaron Berger, who is also a photographer and I was like, “Yo, are you up? Are you seeing this?” And he was like, “Yes, this is crazy.” We both said, “Let’s meet up and take pictures at the Hilton Hotel because everybody is going to be out.” So I got dressed really quickly, and this is in the wintertime, so you have to put on the long johns and get the scarf and the gloves or whatever. It was around 1 a.m.and I was waiting for the subway in Bushwick. There were a few people coming and going and everybody was giving each other these weird looks. It was a weird energy. We were looking at each other like, “Damn, is Trump really going to be our president?” I got on the train headed into Manhattan, filled with New Yorkers figuring out the news on their phone.
I remember this couple sitting across from me and they looked at me, and I looked at them, and they were like, “Damn Trump is going to be our president.” And I was like, “I guess so.” Nobody was saying more than that, just, “Trump is going to be our president. Trump is going to be our president” was all anyone could say. So I met up with Aaron and we walked up to the Hilton and there were people who were supporting Trump, people who were against Trump, and then the media, and these people with all of their credentials and badges, and people selling stuff. It was a little bit of everything. Just all kinds of people. And so I started doing what I do, taking pictures. Just trying to take in this moment. With my photography (I don’t consider myself to be a documentary photographer,) but I feel like with an event like this, with a world event, an historical event, history in general, with photography it is hard to get away from documenting the time, the time of right now and what is happening in the world. But at the same time, I hope that what I do with my pictures also expresses a feeling and an emotion outside of just saying, “These are the people who were supporting Trump and these are the people who were against Trump.” Try to make images to express how I feel. That is what I wanted to go do, just try to figure out how I felt through photographs.