Photographing Former President Bill Clinton

By Trevor Goodwin, Shutterstock Submitter

Story Behind the Photo is an ongoing series that highlights a unique story behind a photo or photos created by a Shutterstock submitter. This month’s featured story comes from Trevor Goodwin. Mr. Goodwin recently participated in Shutterstock’s

On The Red Carpet

program, which specializes in obtaining media clearance for Shutterstock photographers to access celebrity-themed or newsworthy events — in this case, former President Clinton’s acceptance of the Harry S. Truman Award in Independence, Missouri. The

On The Red Carpet

program is a great way for subscribers to source Shutterstock images for editorial usage. You can view Mr. Goodwin’s gallery here and learn more about the

On The Red Carpet

program here.

It was early Wednesday morning, May 6th, and I was in my home office for my full-time job when my wife called. She was driving to work and heard on the radio former President Bill Clinton would be in town speaking at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri later that evening. I did some research and discovered President Clinton would be accepting the 2009 Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service at 5 p.m. I had read an article a few weeks earlier about Shutterstock’s On The Red Carpet program from their newsletter, and I thought this event would qualify, but I was sure it would be too late to submit a request for a press pass.

I submitted the request anyway, with as much information as I could provide, figuring the worst they could say was no. Within a few hours, I was receiving emails and phone calls from Shutterstock’s On The Red Carpet Team letting me know they were optimistic about the chance for obtaining press credentials even on such short notice. I was extremely excited and a little nervous, but there was a new problem that arose from this amazing opportunity.

It was 12 p.m. and I was informed I would have to get to Independence City Hall by 1PM to receive my credentials and to be at the Library & Museum by 2PM to get through security. I was still on the clock at my job and had not requested time off for the day. My next mission was to convince my boss to allow me to leave a few hours early and not be detrimental to my attendance record. By the time I received the final email with specific instructions from Shutterstock, my boss approved my time off request and I got my gear together and left for the event.

When I arrived at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, I checked in with the U.S. Secret Service and received my press credentials. I was directed to the press area and scoped out an open location on the riser. It was a beautiful sunny day so the award ceremony would be held outdoors. I was excited that I could shoot at a comfortable ISO and not worry about dark images or slow shutter speeds. I took some test shots, and then walked around to find some alternate shooting locations. I located a couple great spots where I could obtain different and unique angles. I was all set, so it was time to let the waiting game begin! I’m happy I brought my MP3 player to help pass the time; there were several hours between our required arrival time and the time of the ceremony. Between security sweeps and President Clinton’s arrival updates, I was able to meet and network with many local media representatives.

President Clinton arrived at around 6PM and spoke for about 45 minutes. This gave me enough time to shoot from many different angles. I shot with a 70-300mm lens; at times I wish I had a more powerful lens, but was happy with the results. I often found myself intrigued by all that was going on and watching the local news reporters doing their live shots for the evening news.

Through all the hustle I was still able to focus, watch my framing and attempt to capture the perfect image. President Clinton is a dynamic speaker and he made sure he looked at different places in the crowd while speaking. I waited until he faced my direction, then fired away in the hopes that at least one would turn out with his eyes open. After his speech, I collected my gear and headed home to upload the images.

The upload and approval process was quick and smooth. The images were moved to the head of the queue and the images were available for download early the following morning. I plan on utilizing Shutterstock’s On The Red Carpet Program as often as possible and look forward to shooting many more events like this in the future.

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