Every once in a while, an assignment comes along that makes you remember what a unique experience working in Washington, D.C. can be.
The fact that you are a witness to history, with a vantage point not afforded to every member of the media, much less the rest of the citizenry, is often overlooked. Your mind is preoccupied with traffic and parking hassles, jumping through hoops to obtain proper credentials, deadline pressures and the indignity of being herded around by a 20-something PR flak.
But time and reflection, and the images you made, reminds you what a rare privilege it was to have frozen your butt off for hours on a metal riser, in order to make a photograph of the very moment in January 2009, that Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African-American President of the United States. A singular moment when our glorious nation’s aspirations were realized.
At the time, I was cold and tired and stressed and yearning for the warmth of my home. Today I can look at the frame that I made of Barack Obama’s broad grin as Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office and smile just as wide myself. I was there and I captured a watershed moment in my nation’s history.
I was granted another opportunity recently to photograph the President in a less pivotal, but slightly more personal moment, as I covered the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and had lone access, aside from White House photographer Lawrence Jackson, to the VIP reception room before the dinner.
It was a rare opportunity to photograph some of Hollywood’s loftiest stars, who are used to the fawning and blubbering of fans, became the fawners and blubbers themselves when given a behind the scenes audience with the President.
DC may have a weak spot for Hollywood but Hollywood can go downright gaga in the presence of a Commander-in-Chief.
From Zooey Deschanel gushing, “Oh my God, it’s such a pleasure to meet you!” to Andrew Luck sheepishly having to answer for not playing for the President’s beloved Chicago Bears, it was a kick to see such superstars taken aback and fumbling for words.
I had covered the dinner many times in the past as part of the media pool, but this went beyond the exclusive access of the stage-front photographers’ buffer and it was a blast to be there.
Thanks so much to WHCA President, Steven Thomma, Government and Politics Editor and Senior White House Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau and Julia Whiston, Executive Director of WHCA, for hiring me to document the event. Also thanks the White House Advance Staff and Secret Service agents who helped with my unfettered access. Can’t wait till next year.
J.M. Eddins Jr. Photography • firstname.lastname@example.org • 202-409-6496 • www.photoajojo.com -