I Shot Michelle Obama

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Wow, I haven’t written a title like that since I threatened to kill the president and bomb the White House. Seriously, though, Michelle Obama was in town on Friday afternoon and I was plucked from work and plopped behind a video camera.

At about 1 P.M., my boss called me and asked if I could help Don Hamilton shoot Michelle Obama’s speech. What was I going to say? No? Of course not. So at about 2:30, I headed down to the Fox Theater (I had never been there before). The doors were set to open at 3, and the line of Obama supporters stretched down the block. I walked about halfway down the line and stopped at the stage door. I called Don and had him let me in, which seemed to impress all of the people standing around the door.

As soon as I walked in, Don handed me a press pass and took me out onto the stage. The Fox is a breathtaking theater, and I spent a good minute or so just standing there and taking it all in (meanwhile, everyone wanted to talk to Don about stuff). He then took me up to the back of the theatre to the cordoned off media area. A camera was all set up and ready to go (already aimed and focused, no less! Let me tell you, that’s the way to shoot something – let someone else do all of the setup for you) and Don basically said, “you know what you’re doing, see you later!” Really, I had very little idea what I was doing, but I had an hour to kill, so I familiarized myself with the camera and practiced zooming between different shots.

Don came back a short while later and handed me a Nikon D3 with the biggest lens I’ve ever held. “You’ve shot this before, right?” I had, but not for very long. He showed me how to adjust a few key settings, then ran away again. I still had another 45 minutes to kill, so while people started milling in, I played around with the D3 and took a few pictures. I wish I had a picture of me holding the D3, but the camera on my mobile phone was basically useless in the darkened media area (I did manage to get this shot of another photographer’s gigantic lens. This lens is probably almost 2 feet tall). Don eventually needed it back, so I didn’t get to shoot anything really interesting with it.

A couple of people came on stage and did a goofy skit about how important it was to go to the caucuses, then another woman came on and said basically the same thing. But hey, it ate up 10 minutes and really drove home the importance of everyone going to the caucuses (and what time they were supposed to be there).

As it got closer to 4 P.M., the organizers started seating select people in the on-stage seats. Among them were the president of KAI (where I work), her husband (who also works at KAI), and another woman I work with. I found out later that a guy I work with was also supposed to be up there, but he arrived too late and didn’t even get in.

While waiting, I chatted up Rochelle Ritchie from KREM-2. I recently found out that she lives in the same apartment building that I do, and she thought that was a funny coincidence. We talked about how it’s been hard to park as a result of the snow, and how they send her on weird stories sometimes. She’s a really nice person, which can be rare in the industry (I’ve met a lot of “leave me alone” types).

When 4 P.M. finally rolled around, Chris Marr and Lisa Brown took turns speaking before Michelle Obama finally came out. The crowd went absolutely nuts, prompting Michelle to say, “my work here is done. Good night!”

The next hour was nothing short of amazing. Michelle touched on a lot of issues that are important to me, and that have been largely ignored by most other politicians. Not only is she a brilliant and eloquent speaker, but what impressed me the most was that she did the entire speech without any notes or teleprompter.

Barack Obama’s campaign is all about change, and after Friday, I’m actually hopeful that if Obama wins the election, change really will happen. Here’s hoping.

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1 Comment

  1. Mara

    That is so cool! What an awesome opportunity.

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