Sometimes you really have to work for what you want. Sometimes getting to do this stuff isn't as easy as it looks.
The word got out that President Obama was going to be in town on Thursday to make a re-election campaign stop. This was about noon on Tuesday. And I wanted to be there. Are you kidding? How could you not want the opportunity to photograph a sitting president? I don’t care what your politics are, the man is the President of the United States. I had covered several visits of the Romney/Ryan team, so I had a bit of experience at doing this. I actually got a real fever for this political theatre when I was lucky enough to shoot the Republican Presidential Debate at the University of North Florida a few months before.
So, I went down to the local campaign office and got a ticket to be part of the audience; if nothing else, I wanted to be there. Then I contacted the publisher of the magazine I shoot for to see if he could get me credentials. By that evening, he’d gotten no response to his inquiries, and told me that it probably wasn’t going to happen. That was unacceptable.
I started to email anyone I thought might have an in or some contact that I could approach. I told anyone connected to me on social media that I wanted to be there for this. I kept it up all that night and the next day. Oh, and I prayed that I’d get this opportunity. I had a lot of support and good wishes. Then, a friend gave me contact info for the White House, so I gave it a shot. Within an hour, I had a response from them that they would give me access to photograph the President at the airport, but that’s the best they could do. Not really what I was hoping for. But they did give me someone to contact in the campaign with an email address. So, I fired off an email. And waited. And waited.
Thursday morning came, and still nothing was confirmed. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I grabbed my gear and went down to the convention center. I had my regular press credential and my admission ticket, just in case I could only get in that way. I got down there early and just started talking to anyone and everyone I could. With my gear on, at least I looked impressive, and looked like I should be there. There were local news folks that I knew, and people that I’d never seen before. They'd come from all over North Florida and South Georgia. I told my story to one lady from a Tallahassee newspaper. She listened attentively and immediately got on her phone. After she’d talked a few minutes, she gave me the phone and told me to tell my story. So, I did. On the line was the guy who was in charge of giving out press credentials. He told me he’d meet me at the media door. When the Secret Service started letting in the media, he came out and told them that I was a late addition. And he handed me my White House Press Pool credential. Yes, I was in! And I’ve got the photos and the credential to prove it.
This is one of those experiences that I will always remember. Not everyone gets to do this. But I did. If you'd like to see more of the photos from that day, click on over to my website.
Oh, and that little piece of paper that I treasure, here it is....