Photographing President Barack Obama

2 Sep

This past Saturday I had the honor of photographing the arrival and departure of President Barack Obama at the Sioux Gateway Airport for the Associated Press. I use the word honor, because the opportunity to photograph a sitting President is always an honor. President Obama is not my first President. In college I photographed then Gov. Ronald Reagan who flew into Peoria, IL, to visit his alma mater, Eureka College. I remember it was a cold day and these nice gentlemen wearing sunglasses came up behind me and the reporter for the college newspaper we worked for and asked that we keep our hands in plain sight, cold or not. Later I photographer President Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 1) when he came to Midland, TX in the 80’s to talk with those people responsible for saving Jessica McClure, the little girl who fell down the well in her backyard. While in Midland, I also photographed a gentleman who later would become president, President George W. Bush, while he was running his oil business in West Texas.

While working in California, I was lucky enough to photograph then President Ronald Reagan and his fellow presidents at the opening of his presidential museum in Simi Valley, CA,while doing some work for the Los Angeles Times. I even got to photograph Margaret Thatcher who came to visit him and his wife, Nancy, after they were both out of office. Later in northern California I photographed Vice President Al Gore while he was campaigning against George W. Bush, and then later photographed President Bush and Vice President Cheney while they campaigned in Sioux City when I was formerly working for the Journal. I also photographed President Bill Clinton when he was stumping for his wife, Hillary, during her run for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

I have been lucky to meet and see other candidates running for the office of President in the past, and recently during the Republican campaigns here in Iowa. This is a lucky state in that people can get that close up and personal view of people and listen to what they have to promise and be a part of history, no matter how it turns out.

I also got to see White House photographer Pete Souza work. He formerly worked for the Chicago Tribune and is a quality photographer who is documenting President Obama‘s time in office. Mr. Souza has talked about the challenges and rewards about photographing a president and then displaying those photos for citizens of this country to see. A PBS video examines photographers documenting the lives of the presidents while in office. No matter the politics, the office of the President of the United States is awe inspiring, and children today still dream about maybe being that one person who will be president one day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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