Don’t be mislead by the title. It’s not about Michelle Obama. This blog post is about me. It’s about me photographing the First Lady of the United States of America. Notice I didn’t say, “It’s about me shooting the first lady,” as in “photoshoot” – because I don’t want the secret service to think that I might be a threat. Again. More on that in a minute. Follow me on my journey through the heart of the secret service straight to the glorious light of Michelle Obama.
The experience of being a press photographer…
My bags were searched twice and sniffed by a bomb sniffing dog. I walked through a metal detector and was wanded twice. After which a rather imposing Secret Service officer looked dubiously at my aluminum vintage 70′s tripod and said “That might be a problem.” (You’re telling me.) We were escorted in a giant press herd to and from the press risers by a member of the White House press team and were not allowed to leave.
And I scared a police officer. The first time my bag was searched, a police officer made me turn my camera on, to make sure it worked. He requested that I take a picture, to show that it was actually capable of taking pictures. So, the portrait photographer that I am, I raised my camera to take a picture of the nice police officer’s face. He quickly covered his face and shouted, “Take a picture of the ground!” My bad. It apparently didn’t cross my mind that he might think my camera was a weapon, or how it might be some sort of security risk to photograph the policemen.
But, I did get this stunning picture of the floor to cherish the memory.
A more veteran press photographer might look at these events with mild indifference, or even be annoyed at the inconvenience. For me, it was awesomely cool. Here are some pictures of the people with me on the press riser.
Here are some men in the secret service. I hope they didn’t mind being photographed. I didn’t let them catch me doing it.
And this was one of Michelle Obama’s staff members, possibly her press secretary, who appeared to be taking a photo of the press riser with her iPhone. We’ve probably already been tweeted.
Girls, Inc. – Lunch for the Girls
Girls, Inc. is a non-profit that, as their website says, “delivers life-changing programs that inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” And after one group of girls danced while rapping multiplication tables, another gave a poetry performance, and the last demonstrated a kite strong enough to fly a banana, I believe it.
These girls were strong, smart, and bold. They will most certainly grow into women of character. It was moving to see the crowd of over two thousand in attendance who had come to support them.
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States
“We don’t give these girls something to do, we give them something to be.” Michelle started her speech with some words about the importance of the work of Girls, Inc. She said that children will often match the expectations we set for them as adults and parents — so we should dream big for them. And teach our kids that they can achieve them.
“Practice every day being the person you want to become.”
A girl asked Michelle if she had any advice for someone wanting to be in her situation – living in the White House. She laughed, and replied that we don’t magically get somewhere in life. It’s the culmination of the habits we practice every day of our lives. So, don’t just hope to be in the White House — study hard, work hard, be a good friend. Every day. And then she said, “But don’t just dream of being the first lady. There is always the presidency.”
It was incredibly inspiring.
I am so thankful that I was able to attend this event. Not only was it an exciting experience for me as a “press photographer,” but it was moving to see the change that is happening in girls’ lives right here in Omaha. Even if they didn’t let me keep my souvenir.
To see more pictures of the First Lady and this great event, click here.
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