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The Pretend Photojournalist
Old 03-30-2008   #1
Steve Williams
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The Pretend Photojournalist

I spent about an hour this morning as part of the press pool following Barack Obama at Penn State. I was asked to document the activity surrounding the visit. Photojournalism is a practice far afield from the kind of photography I generally do and each time I find myself in these situations I invariably feel worthless when viewing the results. This is the second Secret Service event in the past few years and the level of control that the pool journalists must work within makes it pretty amazing that they get what they do. Photographing George Bush was even more controlled though the environment was much simpler and lighting controlled than following Senator Obama around a barn today.

I spent some time watching the other photographers today and as you might expect they were intense and driven to get their positions and shots. Everyone was polite but I suspect that if some duffer (me) came along and got in the way of the normal flow they would let them know. One thing that did impress me was a young woman who kept exploring for pictures during the "breaks" in action. I saw her photograph a Secret Service agent standing in a brightly backlit hallway, a still life of another photojournalist working, and some shots of the pretty blue biosecurity boots we all got to wear. I remember being visually hungry like that. I want that again.

If anything positive came out it is the reminder of visual hunger. A searching and restless eye. I can turn it on if I want. I just sort of forgot about it in this situation. Perhaps it was the bright lights of celebrity made me stupid. I can fix it though.

I did have a few moments with them before the press pool arrived. Shot this one just as the Dean of Ag Sciences greeted Senator Obama and Senator Casey. Moments later I was in the pool --- pretending...
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Old 03-30-2008   #2
dmr
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Very interesting!

What kind of press credentials were required to join the "pool"?

I'm assuming there was also some kind of SS check as well?
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Old 03-30-2008   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
One thing that did impress me was a young woman who kept exploring for pictures during the "breaks" in action. I saw her photograph a Secret Service agent standing in a brightly backlit hallway, a still life of another photojournalist working, and some shots of the pretty blue biosecurity boots we all got to wear. I remember being visually hungry like that. I want that again.

If anything positive came out it is the reminder of visual hunger. A searching and restless eye. I can turn it on if I want. I just sort of forgot about it in this situation. Perhaps it was the bright lights of celebrity made me stupid. I can fix it though.

I did have a few moments with them before the press pool arrived. Shot this one just as the Dean of Ag Sciences greeted Senator Obama and Senator Casey. Moments later I was in the pool --- pretending...
Steve,

This is a nice report. Excellent opportunity, and you took good advantage. You've captured a nice moment, and one that could accompany an important turn in this campaign!

The comment about a photographer's visual hunger is really apt. I just heard a piece on NPR where NY journalist Jimmy Breslin recounted as a rookie reporter, traveling to Wash. DC to cover the JFK Funeral. Finding himself one in a mob of reporters and thought "what will I get here?". So he hopped into a cab and went over to the cemetery to interview the man who dug JFK's grave! Nice angle if you can make it

Thanks for sharing this picture. And by the way it has a close in and relaxed feel that is not that common in images of this campaign.

Cheers,
David
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Last edited by DwF : 03-30-2008 at 20:17.
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Old 03-31-2008   #4
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I like that shot, Steve; certainly a successful effort!
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Old 03-31-2008   #5
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Originally Posted by dmr View Post
Very interesting!

What kind of press credentials were required to join the "pool"?

I'm assuming there was also some kind of SS check as well?
A few days before the event I had to supply my SS number, birthdate, name. Since I was being added as a member of the host tour no credentials were issued. They did go through my equipment, checked to make sure the cameras worked and made an image on the screen, and a bomb sniffing dog checked them out too.

Once I left the immediate area of the group I moved into the press pool. It only took a minute for a Secret Service agent to grab me. I had no credentials. Luckily I remembered the name of the agent who cleared me and I guess those little ear radios allowed him to get the ok.
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Old 03-31-2008   #6
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They did go through my equipment, checked to make sure the cameras worked and made an image on the screen,
Hmmmm ... I wonder what they would have done if you had a real film camera?
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Old 03-31-2008   #7
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Hmmmm ... I wonder what they would have done if you had a real film camera?
Immediate body cavity search. Film is suspicious. Haha.
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Old 03-31-2008   #8
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This reminds me of about 16 years or so ago when I had press accreditation compliments of Olympus whom I was doing a project for. My most vivid memories are being knocked to ground and trampled by BBC reporters.
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Old 03-31-2008   #9
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Nice photo, thanks for sharing it! I'm a big Obama fan. did you get to talk to him, or Casey?
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Old 03-31-2008   #10
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Nice photo, thanks for sharing it! I'm a big Obama fan. did you get to talk to him, or Casey?
I just said hello to Senator Obama as he was first greeting the five people in the group he would be touring the dairy complex with. He was quite relaxed and personable for someone who has been under the spotlight for so long.

I didn't talk to Senator Casey during this event but a few days earlier I spoke with him when he visited for an update on Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees with some of our researchers. I had written an article on the subject and was describing what it was like to stand in the middle of 16 million bees in 90 degree weather...
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