Work, Journal

Senator Jon Tester for Esquire

Jon Tester has been in the news a lot this week. Back in 2012, Esquire sent me to photograph Senator Tester (D- Montana) at his fairly large farm in very rural Montana. The senator still represents Montana in the Senate, and has been making headlines all week (provoking the ire of Donald Drumpf) for his efforts to thwart White House physician, Ronny L. Jackson, from becoming secretary of veterans affairs.

Though a Democrat, Senator Tester has held a Senate seat in Montana since 2007, a conservative state that gave 55.6% of its votes to Trump. Every time Senator Tester is mentioned in the news, I think back to then-director of photography Michael Norseng calling me up and flying me out to the senator’s home in Montana. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀
Though it was six years ago, I remember the experience vividly and fondly: Senator Tester greeting me in the driveway after a long drive, standing in a row next to his wife and children and grandkids, surprisingly absent of any handlers or assistants, a series of massive stains spilling down the front of a fairly tattered shirt. I immediately noticed this, but at 26 years old, there was no way I was going to ask a state senator to change shirts, and rather liked his approach to the public eye. I also immediately noticed his right hand: at the age of 9, Tester lost the middle three fingers of his left hand in a meat-grinder accident, but you wouldn’t know it based on the way he moves or lifts up an oil drum.

We spent the next couple of hours rallying around the farm with his grandkids, working on weekend projects that needed to be taken care of. I strongly agree with some of Senator Tester’s policies and greatly disagree with others, but in my short time with him, he was quite kind and showed unwavering hospitality. Though he probably thought “what the hell kid did Esquire send out”, he made sure I had gotten all the shots I needed before the day was done. When our asshole president spontaneously calls on a senator who has represented Montana (and Montana veterans) for 11 years to resign, I can’t help but chuckle. Hurry up, midterms elections.