Photographing the President Overseas: A “Giant Chaotic Moving Game of Chess”

Reuters has released this interesting behind-the-scenes look into what it was like to be a news photographer trailing President Obama as he made an official visit to the nation of Myanmar in November — the first by a US president. The video offers a glimpse into how hectic the job is, as photographers must rush from place to place, out of vans and into venues, in hopes of capturing a historic and newsworthy shot.

Here’s one of the widely published photographs by Reuters photographer Jason Reed, who traveled along with the President on the trip:

Reed has written up a great piece over at the Reuters’ Photographers Blog in which he shares what the assignment was like. Here’s the gem that he concludes with:

What may surprise a lot of amateur photographers is the rapid pace that pictures can unfold in front of a news photographer’s lens, even if on the surface the images appear to be very staged and therefore easy to capture. The White House will take us the first 15,000 miles on assignment but those last 15 feet are all up to you.

This multimedia shows us running up the dozens of steps to get ahead of the president and his entourage at the Buddhist temple, as well as shooting in between official White House photographers, press wranglers whose job it is to keep you at a fair distance from the president, the Secret Service Agents and overzealous local security. It is one giant chaotic moving game of chess.

You are absolutely going to miss moments because there are always too many moving pieces on the board, not least of which are your colleagues competing against you to get the best angles of the most important moments. But you keep on pushing, knowing that in this game there are no instant replays.

The First Embrace [Reuters Photography Blog]

Image credits: Video and photograph by Jason Reed/Reuters and used with permission