Ruffian Infiltrates Press Corps, Photographs Obama
On the morning of 23 August 2008, I was in Springfield with a friend called Cactus Jack, and we were running very late. Obama was about to announce his pick for VP, and the plan had been to wake up at 5:30am to get a good spot for taking pictures of the rally. As we both dabble in event photography, we knew that location is key, and that at an event as important as this one, timing is location.
But the location we visited the night before was a bar, and our timing couldn't have been better, then. We got the last two bar seats before streams of "Off the Bus" reporters and roadies with the traveling press walked in off the street on a mission to stumble back out again later. We joined them, for a while, and then left to play chess into the early morning hours.
It was well past 10am by the time we arrived at the rally, and the only places left to stand were useless to us, and the crowd was so dense that there was no sense in even trying to burrow our way toward a decent vista. And so we hatched Plan B: to return to the bar and wait until just before the rally was about to start, and then badger the event staff at the press table into credentialing us as members of the photojournalism corps.
It was a bold plan, and it got off to a rocky start when, just before the rally, Cactus Jack got locked in the bar by Secret Service agents clearing the streets. I managed to escape the bar, only to be immediately ordered off the street or else...
Knowing the Cactus could take care of himself, there was nothing left to do but continue with Plan B. I approached the press table wearing large sunglasses and a plaid blazer, and wielding a professional-looking telephoto lens as professionally as I could think to.
"What's your name?" the girl at the press table asked.
"Pablo Manriquez," I replied, which is true.
"Ummm...I don't see you here on the list."
"Well, I'm a photographer with the campaign in Indiana," I said, which at the time was also true, in so many words.
She double-checked her list and then called (presumably) her supervisor over and explained to her the situation. Her supervisor then turned to me:
"Who'd you say you were with again?" she asked.
"The campaign in Indiana."
She thought about it for a moment. I stood by looking professionally annoyed. Then, thankfully, the supervisor had a sudden moment of false clarity:
"Ohh okay, yeah," she said, "He's okay. He's one of the ones [name withheld] called about."
I exhaled, but not before pinning an official press pass marked "Cut Riser" to my shirt pocket, and claiming a cozy piece of turf between the AP photographer and the live TV news crew from FOX.
Obama took the stage about twenty minutes later and made the announcement: Joe Biden to be VP. Biden came on stage and, with his trademark smile, talked about Scranton, and Change. When the speeches were over, the Obamas (Michelle was there too) and Bidens (w/Jill) began to make their way around the stage to get back inside Springfield's state capital building.
It was then that I made my move. I climbed down from the cut riser and into the wheelchair section, where I found a freshly-unoccupied & stationary chair to stand on as Barack Obama -- my candidate then, and now, America's president-elect -- passed within just a few feet of me.
That's when I took this picture.