Every Monday, we present a gallery of pictures of the week just passed, taken by our staff photojournalists - and tell you the story behind one of them. This week Steven M. Falk describes covering primary election night. You’ll find the weekly staff gallery after his story.
A night shift veteran, Inquirer staff photographer Steven M. Falk has covered watch parties on just about every election night for the last 20 years, including those of former mayors John Street and Ed Rendell.
For the closer races, he’s used to waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting some more as the results — and the partygoers — trickle in. Some candidates are at their watch parties for the whole night, while others don’t make an appearance until they win, if they win.
Primary elections are especially challenging to cover given the number of names on the ballot. The Inquirer sent staff and freelance photographers to watch parties for nine of the several dozen candidates, and Falk was assigned to City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez’s gathering. The location? Outside a nightclub in Frankford.
Venues “run the gamut of tiny little rooms in bars to big hotel ballrooms,” Falk said. But an outdoor watch party was unusual for him. “I’ve been to so many different ones, I’m always hoping to see something different.”
For most of the night, Falk waited for the party to pick up and for Quiñones-Sánchez to appear. As the election results were reported, the incumbent was locked in a close battle for the 7th District against state Rep. Angel Cruz, but around 10 p.m., leading by about 500 votes, she arrived to declare victory.
Falk was waiting by the parking lot. “The reaction I was looking for from her was the excitement when she came face to face with the supporters,” he said.
In fact, one of Quiñones-Sánchez’s chief supporters was already at the party. As the councilwoman stepped out of her car with her husband and sons, her mother, Bienvenida Neris, ran toward them.
Cheering, Neris gave her daughter a big hug. It was the moment she — and Falk — had been waiting for.