Photographers' Blog

A 23 hour day with Obama

Sleep is overrated.

On Wednesday, I was up at 5:30am so I could start my White House shift. U.S. President Barack Obama had 5 press events on his schedule for the day, so I ended up staying until 7pm. I had just sat down to dinner at 8.30pm, when I heard my cell phone ringing, it was Washington Editor-In-Charge Jim Bourg calling about breaking coverage for an Obama event but it was being kept very quiet. The President was planning to fly to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and take part in the dignified transfer and return of 18 U.S. personnel who died Monday in Afghanistan, so I had to be back at the White House by 10pm. The event would be covered the White House travel pool, a very small group of photographers and reporters who always travel with the President, but what we would be allowed to cover was unclear..

The pool left the White House at 10:45pm for a short drive to Fort McNair military base to board 2 U.S. Marines’ helicopters for the 40 minute flight to Dover. The president would depart separately from the South Lawn on Marine One and we would meet at the Air Base in Dover. The details of Obama’s trip would not be released until the official pool report is released in an email as he departs on the helicopter..

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We arrive a couple of minutes before Obama and we are told that we can only photograph the President’s arrival on Marine One, but is was unclear whether we were going to see any of the soldiers return. We were taken to a holding room and given a military briefing on how the event would take place. Even though 18 soldiers and DEA agents were returning to the U.S., the press would only cover the dignified transfer of U.S. Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin of Terre Haute, Indiana, as per family member’s wishes, and witnessed by Obama. Obama would be meeting with the family members and taking part in the return of the other 17 personnel over the next 3 hours. There is no press coverage..

We waited on a bus for the signal that we could drive out onto the tarmac and at 3:50 am we head out to the C-17 military transport plane and it is very, very dark. The event takes about 10 minutes but the actual transfer from the plane to the truck is over in seconds. Obama walks off the tarmac and we are rushed back on our helicopter for the flight back to Washington.
A very quiet and solemn event, but with all dignity and respect for a soldier who lost his life.

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I start filing while still on the tarmac and I manage to get 4-5 pix filed to our pictures desk in Singapore by the time we take off. We can still get an aircard signal on the flight back, but it fades in and out, and sometimes it’s very weak. We return back to Fort McNair and board our vans for the ride back to the White House. I finish up my filing at the press room and wrap up at 6am, 23 hrs after my day had started. The sky is starting to lighten and someone else will be comingto the White House within the hour to start the morning shift, so it’s time to go home and get some sleep..

Migrants are deported to Guatemala

The mood was somber in Arizona as deportees filed up the stairs to the plane that would take them back to Guatemala. I remember a woman crossing herself as she looked up at the plane. Later I learned it was the first flight she’d ever taken.

Migrants deportation from Carlos Barria on Vimeo.

Most of the migrants I talked to had crossed the border into the United States on foot. One woman told me of being abandoned by a ‘coyote’ during the crossing after she injured herself. She said she had wandered for two days before U.S. border agents found her, dehydrated and weak. She also told me how one of the agents had cleaned and bandaged her feet– a kindness that clearly moved her.


When the plane landed in Guatemala, the deportees let out a subdued cheer and smiled nervously. It was a journey that would reunite them with families, even if it meant the end of a dream to get ahead in the United States. For others, it was a setback. Several told me they would try to run the border again.

Our World Now

Reuters photojournalists are continually bearing witness to events as they happen across the globe. They distribute over half a million pictures each year, pushing the boundaries of what news photography is and can be. Our World Now draws upon this unparalleled resource to document a year in the life of our vibrant, troubled, beautiful planet. In over 350 photographs, this book combines information and emotion to present a vivid mirror of our times. The second volume of this collector’s series is an indispensable visual record of a turbulent year that will be remembered as a turning point of our age.

Our World Now is available in U.S. bookstores. Click here or on the picture above to view a site dedicated to the book.

Presidential pets: Past and present

“Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” -Barack Obama

And with that introduction during his presidential victory speech last November Barack Obama changed the lives of his family forever by honoring a personal campaign promise to the most important constituents in his life; his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Both girls will now have memories of growing up in official Washington forever linked with the excitement of sharing the White House grounds with their brand new puppy.

They will discover the past rewards of an imaginary friend are hollow next to the joys generated by a loving heart of a real puppy. Sasha and Malia will learn how satisfying it is to be a pet’s hero and they will never tire from watching as their dog twists inside-out with enthusiasm, and smiles widely every time they return home from school.

Iconic Obama poster based on Reuters photo — or was it?

Shepard Fairey‘s posters of Barack Obama became the iconic image of a historic campaign. After a bit of digging by a photographer and a blogger, it turns out that Fairey’s source material was a photo by Reuters’ veteran photographer Jim Young.

UPDATE, Jan 21: Or perhaps not. A flurry of online interest has resulted in the discovery of another photo from the Associated Press that may be a better match. Read about it at the blog run by Tom Gralish of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who has covered this story extensively.

Our original blog post continues below.

Blogger Michael Cramer created the composite photo above after sifting through countless images to find a match. The poster has Obama facing the opposite direction; Cramer flipped it to correspond with the original source photo.