Inquisitor: “So, Alex, how does it feel to have the President of the United States peeved with you?”
Alex: “Terrible, but thanks for asking.”
Inquisitor: “Well, what happened?”
Alex: “I was hired to photograph Obama and his contributors again at an Austin fundraiser. Groups and grins. The way it works is you bring your stuff, whatever you need, into the venue the morning of visit and leave. Everyone must be out by noon. Then the Secret Service conducts a sweep. Dogs and all. You come back two hours later with what you have on your back and wait for POTUS to arrive. You must stay in your area. No wandering about without escort. Secret Service shoots. When we arrived, the area where we were to photograph the President was a small area that resembled a curtained cave. It was in the back of a bar, and closed on three sides with black curtains all the way up to the black ceiling in a ten-foot square. All windows were covered with same black material for security purposes. Credit the Democratic National Committee, the people who hired us, for realizing this situation would be dark and ordered lighting. However, we were not consulted about what type of lighting. What showed up was three high-intensity, focused, directed stage lighting pointing directly at the place where our subjects’ faces would be.And because the space was so small, the lights were only about ten feet away where POTUS and his contributors would be standing. Anyone looking in the direction of the camera would be wincing, squinting and writhing in plain, like it was mid-afternoon sun times three, with no cloud cover. So, I had the lights dimmed which made the area subdued but not hideously dark. We had the normal lighting front he ar area coming through the open bar side of the “cave”. Just before O showed, someone dimmed the lights in the bar to cocktail hour. Now it was pretty dark in the cave.
O shows and asks of no one in particular, “Is there enough light here to make photographs?” (Time is of essence so we begin and continue to make pictures throughout the remainder of all that transpired.)
Alex: “Yes sir!” This now sets off the O aide, who is no doubt eager to demonstrate his knowledge of photography and to please his boss.
O Aide to me: “We need more light. Most photographers use light to make pictures. This should have been handled before we arrived.” In other words ‘you incompetent idiot’. Now pointing at the megawatt monsters he says to me, “Turn on those lights.”
Alex, still photographing, “Those are not my lights, I don’t know how to turn them on. If you turn them on, it will ruin the photographs”.
O Aide: “You cannot expect THEE PRESIDENT OF THEE UNITED STATES to meet and greet people in the dark!!” Then he sets off a frantic panic in search of additional lighting.
Alex: “I don’t say a word. I wasn’t hired to teach this O aide about how to photograph people. I keep shooting. Eventually about half way through the photo shoot someone fumbles up with a light on a stand. Finally finding a plug in the dark, nearly trips and falls. Comical. Keystone cops. I almost laughed. However, I kept quiet and kept shooting.”
O to Aide: “Is there some sort of theory about this lighting?”
O Aide to O: “We’ll talk about it later.” O goes to give his speech.
Inquisitor: “Wow, intense!! What could you have done differently?”
Alex: “I was caught off guard. Maybe I could have found some way to add light before O showed. It was dim but not dark until someone turned down the lights in the adjacent bar area. Nevertheless, I stayed on mission.”
Inquisitor:: Well did you get good pictures in the dark?”
Alex: “Here are two. I’ll let them answer that question.”
Inquisitor: “Did anyone else realize what went down?”
Alex: “Well maybe. The Secret Service agent for our area came up while we were hanging out waiting for O to finish his speech. He asked what the huge flap had been about the lighting was and if we got the photographs. He told us that an all-out search for lighting was instigated creating a huge ruckus. I replied that it was dim but we got great photographs. He said, ‘Oh, so it was no big deal. I’ll get the word out.’ Furthermore, when I was coming back from loading my car afterward, the two head secret service agents were leaving the venue, carrying a huge heavy bomb blanket. They set it down in front of me more or less blocking my way. Looking me intensely in the eye, each in turn extended his hand to shake mine. Whereupon, they picked up the bomb bag and walked around me. No one spoke but their action said to me, ‘Well done!'”
Inquisitor: “So everything worked out okay!”
Alex: “Doubtful. The likelihood of O ever knowing what went down is pretty nil. Most likely, if he even thinks of it, he will still be peeved. He won’t see the pictures. O has bigger fish to fry than a photographer who shoots in the dark. Fortunately we live under a president and not a king. Two hundred years ago my head might be telling this story from a stake.”