December 4, 2013

So one week ago I had the unique opportunity of being the sole photographer in the room with the President of the United States of America - probably a once-in-a lifetime thing. Pete Souza, the White House's chief photographer, came along, but he didn't appear that interested and left the room after about two snaps. The timing was interesting for me because, during this administration, press photographers have routinely been denied access (as well as angles), and instead Souza and his team's images of the President performing his official duties (as well as occasions deemed private) are distributed for use.

It was interesting and reassuring to hear the Leader of the Free World for almost an hour speak so candidly about everything; he gets it. He looked tired and was harder to photograph than I'd imagined he would be, but stayed and answered questions longer than he was scheduled to. He spoke with a very small group in a tight space- interestingly, a mix of successful businessmen, their wives, and representatives from the region's Native American nations who had each ponied up at least $16K a person to be there. Amazingly, I was allowed to roam and do as I pleased the entire time, and was even able to stand right behind and to the side of the President for angles I'm not sure I can ever recall photographers ever getting (besides Pete). Though I didn't think I was overly nervous, I noticed my hands had a shake to them for the first 15 minutes or so, and afterwards I had a headache, which the White House's logistics guy said was a result of the adrenaline comedown. The scariest part of the night was when it was all over and I went and slumped down onto the floor to review the evening's images on the back of my camera: none would display. Luckily, they uploaded to the Mac just fine when I got back to the studio, but the cards themselves remain unusable.

As he was headed out, I got a photo of the President with the catering team, and his demeanor noticeably changed after leaving the room of donors and getting to meet the people who'd had no expectation of even catching a glimpse of him. I asked for a photo, and he insisted on fixing my jacket collar, saying, "First, let me help make you look good." I think he got a kick out of my popped collar, and it would've been a great shot, but the one we ended up getting, I didn't get close to that kind of smile from him all evening.

Mr Photographer with Mr President. More photos coming soon...