Bernie Sanders addressed students at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Students listen to Bernie Sanders during a stop at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28, 2016.Natalie Keyssar for TIME
Bernie Sanders addressed students at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally and concert in Iowa City, Iowa on Jan. 30, 2016.
TIMEPOL Ted Cruz
Rubio walks off his bus towards the pub. Marco Rubio spoke to supporters at a campaign rally at the Wellman's Pub and Rooftop in Des Moines Iowa on Wednesday evening, January 27th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Marco Rubio spoke to supporters at a campaign rally at the Wellman's Pub and Rooftop in Des Moines Iowa on Wednesday evening, January 27th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Hillary Clinton spoke to supporters at a campaign rally at the Adel Family Fun Center in Adel Iowa on Wednesday morning, January 27th 2016.(Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Hillary Clinton Rally at a middle school in Marshalltown. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Donald Trump Rally at Marshalltown Community School District - Roundhouse Gymnasium. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Donald Trump Rally at Marshalltown Community School District - Roundhouse Gymnasium. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Donald Trump Rally at Marshalltown Community School District - Roundhouse Gymnasium. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally with husband Bill Clinton in Davenport, Iowa on Jan. 29, 2016.
Bernie Sanders addressed students at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, appeared at a caucus event with his family on Feb. 1, 2016, at the 7 Flags Event Center in Clive, Iowa.
Supporters attend a rally for Ted Cruz in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 31, 2016.
Ted Cruz held a rally at the Elwell Family Food Centera in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday Sunday night, January 31rst. The night before Caucuses he encouraged his supporters to Caucus for him and bring friends in a speech that focused heavily on his religious message. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet campaign at the Crossroads shooting range in Johnston, Iowa on Jan. 30, 2016.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet campaign at the Crossroads shooting range in Johnston, Iowa on Jan. 30, 2016.
Supporters attend a rally for Ted Cruz in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 31, 2016. From left, Joseph, Jennifer, Jeff, Kim, Jessica and Josiah Stilwell pose for a family portrait after the rally. Jeff, the father of the family, said "Ted Cruz is solid in God. He doesn't just say it, or sigh bills, he fights for what he believes. He brings the fight to the battlefield, and that's what we need. He knows he's going to heaven. He's a true Christian. Without God we're nothing. There are absolutely moral wrongs and rights and he's fighting for what's right."
Donald Trump held a benefit rally/campaign rally for the Wounded Warriors, a charity organization for Veterans, at Drake University in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. The event was timed to coincide with the Republican debates on Fox which he declined to attend. His event was attended by supporters, veterans and donors, as well as fellow candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
Donald Trump held a benefit rally/campaign rally for the Wounded Warriors, a charity organization for Veterans, at Drake University in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. The event was timed to coincide with the Republican debates on Fox which he declined to attend. His event was attended by supporters, veterans and donors, as well as fellow candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks to supporters at a campaign town hall in Pella, Iowa, on Jan. 29.
Ben Carson speaks to supporters in Iowa City, Iowa on Jan. 29.
TIMEPOL Ted Cruz
Hillary Clinton campaigns with Bill Clinton in Davenport, Iowa on Jan. 29, 2016.
Rubio's bus is seen before he comes out. Marco Rubio spoke to supporters at a campaign rally at the Wellman's Pub and Rooftop in Des Moines Iowa on Wednesday evening, January 27th 2016. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Donald Trump Rally at Marshalltown Community School District - Roundhouse Gymnasium. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
Donald Trump held a benefit rally/campaign rally for the Wounded Warriors, a charity organization for Veterans, at Drake University in Des Moines Iowa on Thursday morning, January 28th 2016. The event was timed to coincide with the Republican debates on Fox which he declined to attend. His event was attended by supporters, veterans and donors, as well as fellow candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. (Natalie Keyssar for TIME)
January 26, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A Donald Trump Rally at Marshalltown Community School District - Roundhouse Gymnasium. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 26.
January 25, 2016. Des Moines Iowa. A picture of Donald Trumps face on a fence in West Des Moines. As Iowa's Caucuses approach, candidates converge on the state for campaign events. On Monday evening democratic candidates Clinton, O'Malley and Sanders held a Town Hall sponsored by CCN at Drake University in Des Moines. (Natalie Keyssar)
Students listen to Bernie Sanders during a stop at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28, 2016.
Natalie Keyssar for TIME
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A Photographer's View of the Iowa Caucuses

Feb 02, 2016

“Shooting politics is tough,” says Natalie Keyssar in an email as she waited, on Feb. 1, for Hillary Clinton to appear on a stage in Iowa after results started coming in.

For the past week, Keyssar has been crisscrossing the state of Iowa on assignment for TIME. She’s photographed campaign events of most of the primaries’ leading candidates from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

At each event, Keyssar has had to adapt to different situations. “The scenes are limited,” she says. “The media presence is huge. Everyone is looking for a story in situations that are largely very controlled and scripted.”

The young photographer, who is shooting her first presidential campaign, is looking for images that will communicate what she’s been feeling at these events, she says. “It could be the television lights in my eyes, or a moment when the candidate seems to relax their guard for a second.”

Other times it’s just a face in the crowd. “Some look hopeful,” she tells TIME. “Some look angry. But the story here is the Iowan voters.”

And they’re a passionate bunch, Keyssar says. “I've been struck by the sincerity that the Iowans approach the whole caucus procedure. When I talk to people they seem to take the responsibility of being Iowan and having a potentially strong impact on this election very seriously.”

For Keyssar, photographing the primaries has been more than just a professional gig–it’s also offered her a chance to see her country’s political process in a new light. “It’s been amazing to get to see what the candidates mean to people here on the ground,” she says. “Why some are gravitating towards Sanders or Hillary or Trump or Cruz; what it means to them personally. Politics are usually pretty abstract and impersonal, so having a chance to see them this way is pretty special.”

Natalie Keyssar is a photographer based in New York. On her last assignment for TIME, she shadowed police officers from West Philadelphia's District 19.

Paul Moakley and Chelsea Matiash, who edited this photo essay, are respectively TIME's deputy director of photography and visual enterprise and deputy multimedia editor.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

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