Three Saturdays ago I received an invitation from the White House to come photograph Pope Francis' arrival and welcoming ceremony. Of course I said yes.
Two other photographers I know, Holly Garner and Jarrett Hendrix, were invited as well. We arrived shortly before 5.30am on Wednesday, September 22. Our contacts arrived right on time, presented us with press passes, and escorted us inside. At an additional security checkpoint we were given supplemental badges which gave us "a bit more freedom to roam around," according to one of our contacts. After metal detectors and bag check we made our way through the White House and out to the South Lawn.
It was still pitch black outside but there were enormous flood lights illuminating the areas where White House staffers were putting the finishing touches on things. Other than some very soft classical music playing through the sound system it was quiet.
As guests, dignitaries, and more media began arriving we made our way down to the viewing area. The crowd was amazing and, while calm, you could feel a buzz in the cool morning air.
The sunrise seemed unusually slow and the progression of light across the space was impressive. It first brightened the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, then the right edge of the White House portico, then finally it began illuminating us.
The United States Marine Band and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps provided some music for us while we awaited the Pope's arrival.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama greeted the Pope prior to the President and Pope's speeches.
Of all the photographs I took the one below is the one I keep coming back to. I would love to know what they were talking about. I mean, what do you talk about when you're the President and waiting for the Pope to drive up your driveway?