It’s cold, it’s very dark and oh…. of course it’s raining. I have no idea if or when I will actually see the Prime Minister after standing here for hours.
That’s my enduring memory from 10 years (1989-1999) of covering Downing St. as a photographer for Reuters. I still tell people that Downing St. is the coldest place on Earth, no matter what month it may be!
Twelve years later, I walked up Downing St. as a veteran of the White House Press Corps for Reuters, and things were very different indeed. The sky was blue, the air was dry and warm and sunshine washed in from Whitehall. This couldn’t be the same place where I regularly photographed Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair all those years ago.
On this perfect day, as I awaited President Obama’s arrival at 10 Downing St., I reflected upon the many differences between covering Downing St. and the White House.
To start with, my days at the White House are actually spent inside the White House. My days at Downing St. were spent literally on the street. We were held inside a press pen made of bicycle rack-style gates designed to keep us in our place. At the White House, we are given a very detailed schedule of events to be covered. We always know if and when we will see the President. At Downing St, we were never actually told the “ifs” and “whens.” We were never actually told anything. When we needed a photo of the Prime Minister, we would simply camp out in the press pen all day in hopes the Prime Minister would actually emerge at all.