“Everywhere I look, there’s a little photograph,” says Christopher Morris, a TIME contract photographer who, for the last four days, has been following the next Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
Morris has had a long fascination for the political theater, especially on the Republican side. In his book, My America, he documented Republican nationalism in the US during George W. Bush’s two terms as presidents, and in Americans, released in 2012, he showed, through his melancholic portraits, how severely divided America had become.
Now, after a one-year hiatus away from politics, he’s back in the thick of it. “I’m really intrigued by this Republican world, maybe because of the way they style everything,” Morris says. “For some reason, I find the Republican side much more visual to me. Everything seems very structured and linear,” something he hasn’t found to be true at Democratic rallies.
Morris’ photographs tend to be quiet portraits frozen in time. “It’s very pure and straight photography,” he argues. “I always try to separate my subject from the crowd. I’m more interested in things that come across in very simplistic ways.”
The results are “quirky visual moments,” Morris says, where the fashion, the makeup, the hair, the way people look, stand and frown, take over, pushing aside the political talking points. “I’m fascinated to be in this Republican world, especially with Mitch McConnell in Kentucky… where people have been super optimistic. They feel they are taking the country back from those liberal, college-educated, northeastern elite-type of crowd, and Mitch kind of alludes to that in his speeches. He always says that he’s spent seven years on defense and now he’s going on the offense.”
With the election season now over, Morris is already thinking about 2016. “I’d love to cover [the presidential elections],” he says. “But I never know where my career and my work will take me.”
Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and represented by VII.
Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.