Yesterday Dubuque had some very special guests in town. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle visited during their bus tour through several cities in Iowa and campaigned for his reelection. The event took place in the amphitheater at the old Star Brewery building right at the Mississippi River. I always admit that I'm not a "people photographer" but of course, for an event like this I couldn't leave the camera at home. Because of security you couldn't bring a bag with a whole bunch of equipment and so I just chose the Nikkor 24-120, f/4 lens attached to the D300s.
I knew ahead of time that it would be difficult to make a shot of the Obamas without any other person in the frame but this was what I hoped to accomplish. Joan and I went relatively early to the location and this gave me enough time to study the light, and even more important to figure out where the action of their arrival would take place. With the president it is a guessing game, because of security reasons nobody would really tell you the details. I put all my eggs in one basket and took position at the fence closest to the driveway on the south side of the brewery. I was hoping they would walk from the bus straight to the center of the arena and would walk right by us. The other option was that the bus would stop at the back side of the building and they would enter the arena through the house. In this case my position would have been ridiculously far away from any action. When a guy from the secret service started to clean off some dust with a broom from the driveway right in front of us, just a couple minutes before the Obamas arrived, I was sure that we were in the right place.
And then they came and were enthusiastically greeted by the crowd in the arena. I'm sorry but I needed my hands to hold the camera steady and couldn't really participate... ;-)
The first image is cropped on the right hand side to keep a secret service guy out of the frame who came to close the bus door. The second picture shows how difficult it was to accomplish my goal to make a photo without other people and no distracting background. However, I like that the president points his finger at me (or maybe at the people standing around me ;-) ).
And a couple heart beats later I had the shot I really wanted yesterday. No bodyguards, no press photographers, just the smiling couple in front of the stone wall of the old Star Brewery.
The last photo was made during his speech, over the heads of the surrounding crowd, and was heavily cropped in post. I tried many different angles and ran around between the people, made a lot of clicks, but this was the photo with the least distracting background.
It was the first time in my life that I took pictures of a celebrity. Beside all my photography interest at this event, it was a touching moment for me to be so close to the current President of the United States and his wife, even if it was just for a brief moment.