Story By Billy Hardiman- As told to Chelsea Martin
On the morning that President
Obama was expected to arrive in
Arizona, I woke up with chills, anxious
to head to Desert Vista High School
to join the media professionals who
were to be there to broadcast the event,
likely in some cases around the world.
I moved quickly that morning,
never once allowing nerves to find a
vulnerable mental opening.
By 6:15 I had arrived at the school
but sat there for a few minutes
deciding when I should take the plunge
and go in.
I was excited yet I really didn’t
know what to expect. All I was hoping
for was that I would be given the
chance to enter the press area with no
last-minute, unresolved questions.
Ten minutes passed and there I
was, inside the building, security and
Secret Service scattered strategically
throughout, one sorting through
my camera bag as I scanned my
I was the first photographer to
arrive so was able to score a perfect
spot in the center of the auditorium.
An additional security sweep was
conducted outside the building, and
every person there had to wait for four
hours until that one was completed.
Once everyone was let inside, the
additional hour and a half wait passed
like a breeze because I was soaking it
all up, truly enjoying the moment.
I found myself capturing photo after
photo of the energized crowd, smiling
at the realization that this wasn’t just a
Interestingly, the huge 400 mm
lens we had rented for the occasion
was exactly the same one most of the
professionals were using.
At around 1 p.m., Obama glided
onto the stage—the moment everyone
had been waiting for.
It was a wonderful experience,
and I still cannot yet fully wrap my
head around the fact that I actually
photographed the President of the
The entire day felt oddly surreal.
I was simply engaging in the hobby
I love, while simultaneously working
and capturing moments into digital
photographs that never fade.
When I would glance up from my
camera lens, I would have to stop and
remind myself, oh, wait—this is so cool.
It was truly amazing and I’m
grateful for the opportunity.
Now, I can officially cross this off
my bucket list.