THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR in which Texas, it’s routinely said, doesn’t get to participate (see “Party Crashers”). The president will win the state handily—though possibly not by as wide a margin as last time (59 to 38, for those of you keeping count)—so the candidates won’t bother to spend much time or money here. But for a few days this summer, at the parties’ national conventions, Texans acted, at least, as if they had a role to play. The Democratic fundraisers and hell-raisers in Boston to help nominate John Kerry and John Edwards accepted their backbench status with grace and good humor, and their Republican counterparts in New York waved the Texas flag for what seemed like 96 hours straight, and never so proudly as when their former governor strode to the podium.

Texas Monthly was there too, ably represented by the photographer known as Platon. The 36-year-old Brit, who shot Karl Rove and George H. W. Bush for the covers of our March 2003 and July 2003 issues, respectively, hung around the Texas delegations, skulked backstage (where, in Boston, he got himself temporarily pinched by the Secret Service), and captured on film as many Texans as he could find: not just politicos but also big-name journalists and regular folks. “I’m not used to running around chasing people,” he says. “I got kicked, elbowed, shouted at. But it was a trip.” The president’s media maven, Mark McKinnon, was among his favorite subjects—”He has a sense of style. He’s quite wild”—but tops on his list was PBS newsman Jim Lehrer. “He gave me some good advice,” Platon says. “I said to him, ‘I’m struggling to cope with the pressures of being a professional and holding it all together.’ And he told me, ‘It’s really quite simple. You work really, really hard, and then you get to be the boss. When you’re the boss, you get to do things on your own terms.'”

W. couldn’t have said it better himself.