Sep 09

President Obama (video) UPDATED

by in Events, People, Personal reflections, Photography, Video

Wohoo – I had the unexpected pleasure of attending a speech by president Barack Obama – live in person. Here is how it came about…

I just happened to be in Richmond. I had just (barely) woken up, checked out from my motel and was now sitting in my Jeep in front of “7 Eleven”. As I was having my modest breakfast consisting of a banana and trying to wake up, I flipped on the radio. It was mentioned right then that president Barack Obama would be appearing at Richmond University one and a half hour later to give a speech on the Jobs Act that he had just announced in his speech to congress a couple of days earlier.

Suddenly I was completely awake. Hey, I was in Richmond and the president was on his way here!

Maybe I would have a chance of catching a glimpse of the president or even take a snapshot at his arrival, if I was lucky?

Quickly swallowing the last bites of the banana I pondered whether it on the other hand would really be worth it to head towards the university, knowing that the security would be tight and I might just get caught up in traffic congestion and the security hassle without even seeing as much as the motorcade. It might not be worth it.

Well, what the heck – I took the chance, punched “Richmond University” into the GPS and went on my way.

Going down the highway, I noticed the increased police presence with a patrol car parked in the median every few miles, and as I turned off the highway and proceeded towards the university the security became really tight.

The first couple of rows of every parking lot next to the road were fenced off, and there would be a police car in the driveway of every single private property for the last few miles towards the university. Police and security forces were everywhere, on the streets, in the surrounding woods and not least in the air by helicopter.

As I arrived at the first gate to the university, I wondered if this was the place, where the president would arrive. The GPS suggested me to continue for several miles. But the presence of security forces, fire trucks and ambulances hinted that this was probably the right place.

There was a small parking lot in the woods just opposite the gate, and I managed to squeeze the Jeep in on an unauthorized spot between the trees. I hoped it would not be hauled off…

Considering the security situation, I decided to leave my photo backpack in the car and took just my camera with me. On my way towards the university buildings I met a nice young couple, who informed me that this was indeed the right place, and the auditorium, where Obama would give his speech, was just beyond the ballpark in front of us.

They also informed me that in order to attend the event I needed a preordered ticket.  What a bummer… Well, I might still have a chance to see the president arrive, so I went along with my new friends towards the auditorium.

As we passed a police officer I overheard instructions on the police radio: “Do not let any pedestrians pass by!” I quickly picked up my pace, while the officer luckily just responded: “I just did…”

At the auditorium people were standing in long lines around the building. My new friends quickly lined up.

Left by myself I tried to assess the situation. I noticed an elderly couple sitting on some stairs and I struck up a conversation with them. It turned out that they had given up standing in line, and I could have their tickets.

Wohoo – it seemed to be my lucky day. I thanked them and headed towards the lines, where my friends from earlier had advanced quite a bit in the meantime. So I sort of joined them not to far from the entrance.

Obviously there was a security procedure at the entrance. It was similar to that of an airport. But I did not even have to show any ID, and I was allowed to bring my camera after a security officer had checked it out.

Wohoo – I was starting to get excited!

All the best seats were obviously taken in the auditorium, but there seemed to be a few seats with a front view of the president in the corner far up behind. But I would have a better view if I could stay right on the platform in front of the entrance. A few disabled people had been assigned space there in their wheelchairs and on regular chairs.

So, I borrowed an extra chair from a security guard, and while this was certainly not the best seat in the house it was not that bad either as I would have a clear view of the president.

Wohoo – I was ready for the experience and getting more and more excited as the crowd cheered, made waves and acted as if we were about to experience a rock concert or a football match.

The energy kept building up in the crowd and I for one could not help being affected by it.

Then suddenly president Obama was introduced and came into to hall. As he entered the hall it was like the electricity that had charged in the air finally was released and struck all of us like a lightning bolt. The crowd let out a huge roar and gave the president an enthusiastic applause. It seemed like the roof might blow off!

The president was obviously among supporters. Several members of the crowd would interrupt the beginning of his speech by yelling: “I love you!” and the president would reply “I love you too!” to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Then the president went into his serious speech about the Jobs Act that according to president contained measures that democrats and republicans should be able to agree on. The president outlined that everything in his proposal would be paid for, that it would create much needed jobs and that congress should pass this bill right now!

The crowd went wild, and so did I!

Even though my camera (or rather the 24-105mm lens) has an image stabilizer I had to support it against a railing because with all the excitement my hands were literally trembling.

Unfortunately I was a bit too far from the president to get a tight shot, as I had only a 24-105mm lens on a full frame camera. How I wished I had the 100-400mm that I rented for Yellowstone. Well, the only thing I could do was to try to get closer. So after charming a secret service agent a little bit, she let me go down the stairs to the front row and take a few shots and a bit of video before she ordered me back on the platform. I was still not really happy with my photos though.

The president wound up his speech to another huge roar, and the national anthem came on as the president slowly made his way towards the exit shaking hands with crowd members on his way out. As the audience broke up I saw the chance to move closer to where the president had entered and would surely exit the auditorium.

As you can see below, I did manage to snap a few shots more up-close. They are not perfect, but I find them decent under the quite difficult circumstances of the available light, the excitement, the security hassle and not least a nutty lady next to me who started punching at my camera because I had taken enough photos, in her opinion…

Wohoo – it was one of the most exciting events I have ever experienced!

It took me quite a while to wind down in the parking lot afterwards. While I was waiting for the traffic congestion to dissolve, I reflected about the whole experience. I had finally come to witness and understand how a charismatic leader can affect a crowd.

Fortunately, Obama is one of the good guys and I hope that his balanced policies will prevail to the benefit of the American people and the world.

In between trying to capture a decent photograph of the president, I managed to capture excerpts of the speech on video with my (photo) camera. Again, I wish i was able to get closer, that I had my directional microphone with me etc. But hey this was a spur of the moment thing recorded under difficult circumstances. I think it holds up – do check it out!

The president in a thoughtful moment during his speech. This photo is heavily cropped as I was too far from the president to frame him tightly with my 24-105mm lens.


President Obama took his time to greet members of the crowd before leaving the building.


Hopefully this photo gives a sense of the excitement and the affection between the audience and the president.


In my opinion president Obama has genuinely reached out - if only congress would come together and "pass this bill!"


Here I happened to catch the president with a bit of a funny look on his face. I cropped this shot a bit and blurred the background in Photoshop in order to isolate him from distractive elements in the background.


Here I also blurred the fore- and background in Photoshop but a bit less than in the previous shot.


President Obama is leaving Richmond University.


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8 Responses to “President Obama (video) UPDATED”

  1. From Maria-Louise:

    Hej Erik

    Woohoo, ja SUPER spændende. Dejligt, at du også har fået den oplevelse med :-)
    Er du i New York 9-11?

    Knus fra os alle fire :-)

    Posted on September 10, 2011 at 05:38 #
    • From Erik Thrane:

      Hej ML

      Ja, det var en større oplevelse, end man umiddelbart skulle tro. Der var en helt enorm energi i menneskemængden, da præsidenten ankom, og når han fastslog en pointe!

      Jeg har aldrig oplevet noget lignende. Det slår enhver rockkoncert.


      Posted on September 10, 2011 at 12:41 #
  2. From Eva:

    Er sådan en oplevelse noget, som vi kan putte på dåse og sælge?
    Jeg mangler helt klart input til el-produkter.

    Eva Lauritsen

    Posted on September 13, 2011 at 11:22 #
    • From Erik Thrane:

      Hej Eva

      I så fald, ville du have et godt produkt! :-)


      Posted on September 14, 2011 at 03:49 #
  3. From Thomas Mikkelsen:

    Wauh, what a conclusion to your adventure. Obama sure has charisma and knows how to please a crowd. Good job with the pictures – taken the difficult circumstances into consideration. I especially like the ones where the president meets the crowd. So many faces and gestures to look at and each one tells it’s own story.

    May you have a safe trip home to the cold and rainy north. Thanks for sharing your stories :-)

    Posted on September 20, 2011 at 19:11 #
    • From Erik Thrane:

      Thanks, Thomas!

      The end (of this trip) is near, but I am currently having some amazing experiences in New York. Just wait and see! ;-)

      Best regards

      Posted on September 20, 2011 at 23:28 #
  4. From Martin:

    Imponerende Erik! specielt er det morsomt først at læse hvor vanskeligt det var at tage billeder, og hvor dårligt udstyr du havde for hånden, og så faktisk se rigtig gode og klare billeder. Et godt trick: nedtone forventningerne – og så vise sig frem! :-)

    Ingen tvivl om at Obama er en af de bedste talere verden nogen gang har mødt, MEN jeg har det sådan at folk som er helt unikke på nogen områder, har ofte mangler på andre områder, og det kan jo rent faktisk tænkes at han kun er verdens bedste taler, og ikke en af verdens bedste ledere. Jeg møder ofte forretningsfolk og erhversledere som er fødte talere og som kan tryllebinde ved præsentationer. Men det er sjældent dem som jeg har mest respekt for når man lærer dem at kende.

    Jeg håber jeg tager fejl.

    Posted on September 30, 2011 at 20:23 #
    • From Erik Thrane:

      Hej Martin

      Tak for din positive kommentar. :-)

      Udover talegaverne og karismaen synes jeg nu også, at Obama har en vis integritet og fornuftige, pragmatiske standpunkter. Men ellers er jeg da helt enig. Jeg har også mødt et utal af “parfumesælgere” i erhvervslivet, der har fået lov til at jonglere med store værdier, indtil folk endelig har gennemskuet dem. I visse tilfælde er det endda lykkedes dem at holde den gående.

      Verden vil jo bedrages…


      Posted on September 30, 2011 at 20:51 #