The big official opening to the Inaugural festivities is a star studded concert at to the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a free concert that Obama and Biden will be attending with their families. The concert is a big HBO production and apparently they wanted full exclusive rights and tried to ban the press from covering it. That went over like a lead balloon and in the end they lost that battle. I think they ended up with exclusive TV rights though.
As with any event where Obama will be in attendance, security is extremely high and you end up doing a ton of waiting around after you are screened by Secret Service.
My day began a little after 7am when Mike Heiman, one of our field editors, picked me up at the Holiday Inn. After getting lost, despite using a GPS, and ending up somewhere in Maryland, we finally got to the Getty office and met up with my co-worker Mark Wilson Three of us would shoot the event and feed to the editor.
We picked up long glass for the show and headed over to the Lincoln Memorial. We caught a cab and tried to maneuver through town which proved to be difficult since a good portion of the streets were shut down to traffic. We got relatively close to the venue but still had to walk close to a half of a mile.
Surprisingly, the press security line was real short and we breezed through the checkpoint. It was now about 8:30am – the show starts at 2:30. Thankfully it isn’t too cold today, probably about 34 degrees. Time dragged on as we watched hundreds of thousands of people fill in along the reflecting pool and out to the Washington Monument. I kind of felt bad for the people who watched it on big screens from about a half mile away. It would have probably been better to watch on TV in a comfortable and warm hotel room.
My shooting position was on a riser directly in front of the stage. It was a three level riser with HBO cameras and sound engineers. After much negotiating, five still photographers (AP, AFP, Reuters, Getty and the Presidential Inaugural Committee) were allowed to shoot from this riser through a small 3 foot by 3 foot window. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, there was a lighting technician that needed to see through that window as well. It was like putting together a puzzle to get us all positioned to shoot through that hole. It was tight, but it worked.
Thanks to a tight TV production schedule, the show went off right on time with The Bidens and then The Obamas walking down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while a military band played, or should I say pretended to play. I had watched them “playing” earlier and noticed that they were pretty much faking it as a tape played. The drummer wasn’t hitting the drums and the cymbal guy wouldn’t actually hit the cymbals together. Bizarre.
I’m not a huge variety show kind of guy, but this show was pretty good. Well produced and only an hour and a half. I was half expecting it to go all night when I heard the long list of people performing. It was a mixture of celebrities reciting stories and quotes by Abraham Lincoln and performances by some big name artists. Most did one song, some did two or three.
Some of the highlights were The Boss singing with a choir and John Mellencamp totally getting down during his performance of Pink Houses. He went wild, didn’t know he had it in him. U2 was good, was surprised to see the whole band, we had heard it was just going to be Bono. I couldn’t figure out what Sheryl Crow was doing as she did this weird, almost handicapped-had to pee her pants looking walk across the stage during her tune with Will.i.am. Ashley Judd fought back tears as she spoke and Tom Hanks appeared to be vying for another Oscar award with his overly dramatic presentation. I can’t even remember half of the people who spoke or performed. I do remember Shakira. I am not too familiar with her music but she is HOT.
The Obamas watched the show from a bulletproof glass box on the side of the stage. I couldn’t see them very well from where I was, but what I could see they looked to be having fun. Biden spoke during the show or should I say he “yelled” to the crowd. Despite having a microphone and good sound system he shouted at the people. Kind of like the way they portray him on SNL.
Obama spoke after Biden from a big podium under the watchful eye of Abraham Lincoln. His speech was short and sweet. The show finished up with the Boss and doing their rendition of “This Land is Your Land” followed by all of the celebs returning to the stage to meet and greet Obama.
After we packed up all of our gear and finished filing pictures we walked close to two miles back to the office. This was the start of many days of walking with tons of equipment since the city was become more and more closed off.
Q&A: Photek Softlighter II or Paul Buff PLM?
2 days ago