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Focusing on the edges of the campaign trail with Instagram

Associated Press photojournalist Evan Vucci has been on the road with the Newt Gingrich campaign for a month, where the pace can go from completely hectic to total boredom in the space of minutes. While waiting for the doors to open at an event, or in the hours spent on buses and planes traveling to 11 states, he's documenting the edges of the campaign -- the times where the "Wizard of Oz" curtain slides back a bit and reveals the levers and mechanisms of a campaign at work.

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: Newtmobile in action, Rome, Ga., Feb. 28. Right: They're handing out Newt socks, Nashville, Tenn, Feb. 27.

Even though -- or maybe because -- he's carrying four professional camera bodies, seven lenses and a laptop, Vucci reaches for a fifth much smaller camera to capture the "edges" -- his iPhone. He's not cracking open a laptop to process and transmit the images like he does for the wire. Instead, he's filtering, commenting and uploading them via Instagram, instantly.

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: Newt press bus, Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 7. Right: A few hours of downtime on the road. I'm surrounded by girls that went to get their nails done, in Suwannee, Ga., Feb. 26.

Admittedly, he's a little late to the iPhone bandwagon having only gotten the fourth-generation device this year. Check out our coverage of how other photographers use smart phones and apps like Hipstamatic to photograph stories, including war.

On the campaign trail this year, app-based photography particularly using Instagram is going mainstream, with feeds from news organizations to the incumbent himself.

Vucci sheds light on why he was attracted to the tool. "When the campaign comes around, everyone tries to up their game a little bit. You'll see Leicas, medium format, 4x5 cameras, Polaroids...anything to make all the stuff that looks the same be a little different. Instead of looking back at older formats, I wanted to experiment with some of the new tools people are using and basically have some fun."

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: Newt bus, Gainesville, Ga., Feb. 29. Right: Campaign stop in a box, Covington, Ga., Feb. 29.

The point-and-shoot quality of the camera and the instant upload to a network of friends is inspiring a different kind of creativity. "It's like being back in photojournalism school where I'm not really worried about the result. There's no boundary."

It also helps him connect with other photographers and journalists on the campaign trail, seeing instantly how they're documenting other candidates in different places.

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: Praying during Newt visit, Miner, Ga., Feb. 26. Right: Newt supporters- HELP, Feb. 28.

But mostly, it's personal. This is the kind of assignment he dreamed about when he decided to be a photojournalist -- traveling the country and taking pictures. "It's like my scrapbook for the campaign. I think these pictures will jog my memories about the campaign more than the stuff I'm uploading to the wire."

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: Reserved for Washington Post photographer, First Redemer Church, Cumming, Ga., Feb. 26. Right: Newt security holding the door for the candidate, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Feb. 24.

The creators of Instagram were inspired by old Polaroid cameras – both their look and how they could be shared immediately. Users can follow, comment and like images. They offer 17 different filters to achieve different looks from hyper-saturated and edgy to painterly and antique. Vucci points out that this heavier filtering is not appropriate for the photojournalism he sends to the wire from his digital SLRs to feed  websites, newspapers and magazines around the world. But for this personal work, the filters are fun. For the non-professional, they can gloss up an image that is technically questionable or a little mundane.

Evan Vucci / AP

Left: I know how you feel kid, Dalton, Ga., Feb. 28. Right: Gingrich visits Rock Springs Baptist Church in Miner, Ga., Feb. 26.

Earlier this week, there was a another example of a pro dipping into Instagram for a different look, when Nick Laham of Getty Images photographed New York Yankees players with an iPhone. See the "glamorous" location next to some urinals where he captured the images, and the result after he Instagrammed them on his blog.

Some Instagram feeds from the campaign trail to check out:

@evanvucci, Associated Press.

@philiprucker, Washington Post.

@JamieNBCNews and @AlexNBCNews, #Decision2012, NBC News.