Vacation on the Vineyard, without Obama
By Kevin Lamarque
My assignment was to fly on Air Force One to Martha’s Vineyard and cover President Obama’s vacation. Covering is perhaps a misleading term. The term “protective coverage” would be more accurate.
When the President is on vacation, the photo opportunities are few and far between. Days as the “travel pool” Reuters photographer are long, tedious and not necessarily fruitful. The travel pool consisting of photographers, TV crew and reporters is at the ready in case breaking news happens as the President vacations. The pool will also be on hand if the White House actually decides to allow coverage of the President during a rare public appearance. We had a few photo opportunities… a bookstore, a restaurant, a golf course, a bike ride and two statements to reporters (Libya and Hurricane Irene). Total Presidential face time for those photo opportunities…….about 9-minutes out of a 9-day vacation.
(Life’s a beach. As the President and family enjoy the beach, a colleague and I dip our toes in a foul puddle off the main road. Behind is the yellow bus that served as our mobile “office” with the motorcade press vans parked beside.)
Times are tough. The economy is weak and many Americans are out of work. Those lucky enough to have work did not have the funds to take a summer vacation this year. With economic dark clouds all around, it was little surprise the White House did not want the press or public to see the President having too much fun in this New England playground of the rich and famous. It was also no surprise that the first image of the President on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard was a White House produced photograph of Obama looking deeply concerned during a morning security briefing.
During my long days on protective coverage, there was precious little time for sightseeing in these lovely surroundings. I decided that during rare moments outside the Presidential bubble, I would leave my “work cameras” behind and shoot only with my pocket camera. The following images have no President or hint of the President, they are just pictures I took during a walk or drive on the Vineyard or waiting for a Presidential motorcade movement. Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful place and given time and freedom, it would be incredibly rewarding to document in pictures. Someday………