Dedicated photojournalists log countless hours in airports and hotels, while documenting the often mundane details of the world’s leaders. This is not my job description. On a recent assignment for The Department of State, covering APEC Leaders’ Week in Hawaii, I got a glimpse into what it would be like to work in this manner. I was assigned to cover Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for three days while she held bi-lateral meetings, gave speeches, hosted dinners and attended many other events. In fact I got to travel around the world with The Secretary of State without leaving Honolulu. Our first stop was the East West Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii, where Secretary Clinton met with Pacific Island Country Leaders and gave a speech to a large and enthusiastic crowd. It was en route to this location in the motorcade, complete with secret service and a police escort, that I realized this job was unlike any other I had done before.
The rest of the day was consumed with Bi-Lateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan, China and The President of Vietnam. Shooting these meetings is fast and a bit unrewarding as the press is allowed in at the top of the meeting for a quick handshake photo-op and out the door we go.
From the final meeting with the president of Japan we traveled to Shangri-la, the mansion built by Doris Duke to house and preserve her Islamic Art Collection. A dinner reception was being held for trade ministers from APEC economies.
The next day we got to work early and spent the day in meetings, in a press conference, at the CEO Summit and finally back at Shangri-la for another dinner, this time with The Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo. The dinner was prepared by Iron Chef Morimoto.
The final day in my 3 day assignment with Secretary Clinton was a long and slow one spent primarily waiting around the hotel for my photo-op. Only 4 meetings were held and that means I had a total of less than ten minutes of actual photography work in a day that began at 8:00 and ended at 6:00. It was all worth it though, with a priceless moment during the last meeting with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The sun was setting so the shot was at least a bit interesting when out of nowhere comes a man running, presumably on his way to the luau complete with torch. The security was nowhere to be seen.