A panic-stricken rush. What else is new? With terrible weather, a taxi in rush hour had been, shall we say, “challenging” to find. Then, with the crowds and police at the venue, the driver could only get me so close. This required schlepping two heavy bags of photo gear through the wind and rain, holding onto my porkpie hat for dear life, uncertain of the correct entrance, to discover that the tight security included every photographer’s nightmare: metal detectors. Oh joy. Unpack the bags, take off the shoes, take off the hat, repack the bags, shoes back on feet, hat back on head. Running that gauntlet, I was then directed three floors up to a waiting area outside the conference rooms where I was to document one of two scheduled video interviews. My clients were there, and, for the other scheduled interview along with his crew, there, beard and all, was CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. After all the madness to arrive on time, it should have been expected that we be told our subject was delayed. So, I did the usual things one does with extra time: gear check, hat check, clock watch, and talk small — and watch/listen to Wolf spend his time angling, rather loud and clear, with someone unknown on the other end of a phone for his next interview as he actually said: “. . . and we’ll make great television together!” While I had to contain my jaw from hitting the floor, I realized that Wolf and I have something in common: without his beard and without my hat, no one would recognize us. Such is branding.
Finally, there was an almost palpable change in the air pressure — everyone could feel the presence before it actually arrived — as the subject and his entourage streamed into our area. The mood shifted in an instant. No one knew quite what to do and was trying to look as if they weren’t looking and were instead doing something terribly important. Quickly, our band of ten was ushered into our conference room though not before it was clear in no uncertain terms that the man who now commanded the arena was HOT about whatever or, rather, WHOever had gone awry and had caused his delay. And yet after only a short wait, our room’s door opened and there he was! He entered into our gathering as calm, cool and collected as if he’d just been having the best time of his life. He immediately proceeded, with a totally relaxed pace and ease, to go to each and every person to shake their hand and say hello. By chance, I was last. He approached me smiling, looking me in the eye as he grasped my hand and, with that unmistakable accent, said, “Y’know, I saw you from across the room outside there. I like your hat.” And so, with that, I had my story to tell of the time I, and my porkpie hat, met and photographed former President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.
–written by Ric Kallaher. Check out his work at www.ric-kallaher.com