Photographers' Blog

White House moments: A time lapse view

What does a typical day at the White House look like?

I set out to capture a sense of everyday life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, armed with basic knowledge from a course in video editing at the Kalish workshop. Starting with a couple of early experiments of the Marine Guards at the West Wing and a daily press briefing, I was hooked on time-lapse sequences that came to life when they were played at high speed.

I began taking along extra cameras, tripods, clamps and pocket wizard radio remote triggers. This involved slightly more work as I had to start thinking of the best place for a time lapse sequence that may not make a good still image itself, but rather as part of a larger project.

From the East Room, where most official functions are held, to the Rose Garden, the South Lawn and the West Wing, I set the cameras up to fire one picture every 5 to 10 seconds before, during and after the events. Thousands of pictures were shot over the course of those weeks, and I slowly began to put together a narrative that follows what we typically photograph on any given day at the White House.

Shooting “a day in the life” would have been nice, but it was impossible to have cameras in all the locations on one particular day.

All of what you see in this project was made with just two cameras on the time lapse and one hand-held camera — it’s a very basic set up. Shooting handheld, I had to shoot major burst sequences with long lenses, all the while ensuring that I didn’t move the camera around too much. Even slight movements can render an entire sequence unusable. Tripods are too cumbersome to use at the White House and you have to stay mobile to make pictures, so I would innovate by propping myself against a ladder and holding my breath or putting the handheld cameras on the ground — whatever it takes to shoot a short burst without moving the camera at all.

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.