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from Photographers' Blog:

Hitting the ground running

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Washington, D.C.

By Kevin Lamarque

Air Force One descends and the well choreographed dance begins: meal trays go up, shoes put back on, and laptops slipped into backpacks. Often the movie is abandoned minutes before the ending. Perhaps it’s time for one last reach into the candy basket. Cameras are slung over shoulders and settings are re-checked. Questions are asked: “Is it raining out there?” “Is there a pen of greeters?” Photographers, first out the door of the press cabin, make their way to the designated spot under the wing to photograph the President descending the steps of Air Force One.

Whether it's a quick day trip to Virginia or a red-eye to Europe or Asia, the arrival of Air Force One is always a spectacle. For locals, it is the quintessential moment of self-importance: “Air Force One is landing in our city.” Footage of the plane landing is usually broadcast live by local networks. From inside the plane’s press cabin, we often watch this live footage, actually seeing ourselves land. It’s a pretty weird experience when you think about it.

For photographers, the arrival is the first image that places the President in his new locale. It is the beginning of a new story. The arrival photos are usually the first images we transmit to our clients who are sometimes eagerly awaiting a timely visual to match their story.

On domestic trips, those first images consist of a wave at the top of the steps followed by the President being greeted by a local politician at the bottom of the steps. Often, there is a “greeting pen,” a group of well-wishers selected to see the President’s arrival in person. President Obama will almost always make his way over to the greeting pen, at times breaking out into a spirited jog. Upon arrival at the pen, hands are shaken, babies are kissed and then Obama jumps into the waiting limo and the motorcade is off to its first destination.

from Photographers' Blog:

“We’re pulling an all-nighter”

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By Kevin Lamarque

“We’re pulling an all-nighter” -- President Barack Obama's refrain to crowds across the U.S.A. throughout his non-stop 40-hour campaign swing.

An all-nighter? Really? As in we sleep on the plane? On a domestic trip? Seriously? This was my initial reaction upon seeing the White House press schedule and failing to find a hotel mentioned anywhere. But sure enough, that was the deal.

from Photographers' Blog:

Into the night: Covert travel with President Obama

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By Kevin Lamarque

First there is the phone call. It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon in Washington when the phone rings. “Can you be at the White House for a meeting in four hours? I can’t tell you why, but we need you to be there.”

Hmmm … I’ve seen this show before, and I pretty much know what the deal is. President Obama is going to be traveling somewhere unsavory and everything about it will be Top Secret until he lands at his mystery destination.

from Photographers' Blog:

Can you keep a secret?

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Want to hear a secret?

"U.S. President Barack Obama will make an unannounced visit to Afghanistan but you cannot tell anyone." Those seemed like simple enough guidelines, but it certainly wouldn’t end up that way.

President Barack Obama meets with troops at Bagram Air Base, December 3, 2010.    REUTERS/Jim Young

It started with a call from Washington Editor in Charge Jim Bourg during my shift at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. "I never know how to start these kind of conversations..." he said. “You know when we have these trips where we really can't talk about it?" I had a feeling I knew where this was headed. He kind of paused a bit trying to find the words to say it, without really saying it. But I stopped him and said, "I know where you are going with this and you don't have to go any further." Obama would make a surprise visit to Afghanistan. I was careful not to answer his questions out loud, so that anyone standing by wouldn't figure out the questions or the subject matter, but we were on the same page. He just said it was tomorrow night. The trip would be about 30 hours there and back, with 25 of those hours in the air. I would finish my shift as usual and go to see him in the office to get more details.

from Tales from the Trail:

George W. Bush starting to emerge from cone of silence

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George W. Bush is slowly starting to emerge from a self-imposed cone of silence that he has generally adhered to since leaving Washington for Texas when he turned over the presidency to Barack Obama.

BASEBALL/President No. 43 gave a lecture at the University of Texas in Tyler, Texas, on Tuesday and spoke before a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people. All this is according to the Tyler newspaper.

from Photographers' Blog:

Destination: Afghanistan

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It all started out with a phone call from Reuters News Pictures Washington Editor In Charge Jim Bourg on Thursday night informing me there was a secret Presidential trip leaving on Saturday to an undisclosed destination which Reuters would like me to travel with the president on. I was told that this was very secretive and that I was not to mention it to anyone and that no details were available yet. I had been with President Obama on his secret trip to Baghdad last year, so it was pretty easy to figure out that the destination this time might be Afghanistan, a trip which had been highly anticipated since Obama became president 15 months ago. I was to expect to be contacted directly by the White House for a meeting to discuss the details. But I was to "open" the White House as the first Reuters photographer arriving there on Friday morning at 7am, my scheduled shift, and to go about my day as planned acting as if everything was normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That afternoon I was called in to meet with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in his office at 4pm, along with some of the other members of the 14 person media travel pool who would be going on the secret trip aboard Air Force One.

from Tales from the Trail:

Senate gives Obama Christmas present and then he gets Hawaiian holiday

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How much better could it get?

President Barack Obama won a hard-fought victory on his signature domestic issue -- healthcare reform -- first thing in the morning with the Senate vote and then he left the frozen tundra of Washington, D.C., (we're talking about the weather) for the balmy tropics of Hawaii. OBAMA/

A sweet start to the Christmas holidays for the first family.

Air Force One landed at Hickam Air Force Base on the island of Oahu (even some of the Secret Service agents on the ground were in Hawaiian shirts) and everyone in the first family was greeted with the traditional lei around their necks.

from Tales from the Trail:

The First Draft: Could Obama’s Olympic sprint be a preview of a Copenhagen climate trip?

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THAILAND/OK, so President Barack Obama's lightning jaunt to Copenhagen last week was less than successful. Even with Oprah along, the Cheerleader-in-Chief couldn't clinch the deal for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. It happens.

But now that he knows the way to Denmark, might the American president consider arguing the U.S. case at international climate meetings in Copenhagen in December? The White House said he might, if other heads of state showed up.

from Tales from the Trail:

First Draft: Air Force One’s Big Apple photo op

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USA-POLITICS/No matter what kind of day you're having, it's probably not as bad as the one Louis Caldera had yesterday. Caldera is director of the White House Military Office, and he approved what might well be one of the most criticized photo op choices of all time: a low-level flyover of Manhattan by a plane often used to transport the president as Air Force One.

Caldera said federal authorities informed the appropriate officials in New York and New Jersey beforehand, but many New Yorkers were instantly reminded of the 911 attacks when they saw the blue and white passenger plane flying by their skyline, trailed by an F-16 fighter jet carrying a photographer. The idea was to get a picture of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty.

from Photographers' Blog:

Welcome aboard Air Force One

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Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House , including flying aboard Air Force One, since 1978. President Barack Obama is the sixth president Larry has photographed.

Only two identical aircraft exist in the world which both share the same high-level function. They mirror one another precisely except for the numeric identifier on the tail. One reads 28000, the other 29000.
They’re as sleek as they are majestic. Anticipation runs high when either travels and both are red carpet worthy. They are concealed around-the-clock in a protective cocoon while being constantly pampered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

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