Traveling the World with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (without leaving Honolulu)

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.

Secretary Clinton at East West Center

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.

Bi-Lateral meetings with Australia, China, Japan and Vietnam

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.

Secretary Clinton receives a private tour of the art collection at Shangri-la

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 Foreign Ministers Breakfast at The hawaii Convention Center

Secretary Clinton at The CEO Summit

Back at Shangri-la with Iron Chef Morimoto and The Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo

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.

www.scottchernis.com

Landing the big one

As a young photographer, just out of college and idealistic enough to believe that my love of music was enough to have a career as a music photographer, I loved to look at books by established photographers.  The first book I remember spending a lot of time with was “Photo Diary” by Lynn Goldsmith.  This chronicle of her adventures with musicians on various shoots from the mid-seventies to the late eighties hooked me and I loved it.  The stories are insightful and allowed me a glimpse into a world I only dreamed about.  One story that has stuck with me over the years involves Bob Dylan and an assignment that she received in 1976.  Lynn tells the story better than I do so I will use her words here,

“But I never really experienced what it meant to be a professional photographer until I got a call late one night in 1976 to come down to Secret Studio to photograph Bob Dylan and Bette Midler.  I grabbed my cameras and hopped in a cab.  I was so excited I started talking to myself, saying over and over, ‘I’m going to shoot Dylan, Bob Dylan!’  The driver heard me and pulled over.  He told me to get out of his cab, he didn’t want to drive ‘no assassins’.

Many photographers use this term ‘shoot’ to describe the act of making pictures but in today’s world it is best to change the verb under certain circumstances.  This morning I received a similar call and an assignment that makes me very excited.  When I step into the cab and head to the airport on Sunday I will only say, “I am off to Hawaii to photograph the President of the United States, Barack Obama.”

For more information or images visit www.scottchernis.com

SF Outside Lands has arrived

In four short years Outside Lands, the music festival in Golden Gate Park has established itself as the premier summer music festival in California, perhaps even the country.  This eclectic mix of music, food, art and human personalities has found its groove and should be a part of the San Francisco scene for many years to come. Following is  small sample of photos shot by Scott Chernis on Saturday from the three day music festival.

The food truck forest

Outside Lands

Christina Perri

Old 97’s

Only in San Francisco A cello playing Wizard in the forest

The Roots

Twin Peaks Stage

Warren Haynes Band

Outside Lands sunset

Muse plays for 60,000+

24 hours in the life of photographer Scott Chernis

Everyday in the life of a freelance anything is a bit different than the one before or after it.  Photography is one of those jobs that does not follow a steady rhythm, at least not my line of work.  Take a recent 24 hour period as an example that most likely will be repeated in the future with a completely different rhythm and result.  Drinking scotch and shooting out the window with renowned photojournalist Rick Friedman www.rickfriedman.com at the Starlight Room on the top floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in downtown San Francisco is a good way to start any evening. From there I walked three blocks to the Hotel Nikko where I was to meet Kim Nalley www.kimnalley.com who has taken up a five week residency at the Rrazz Room playing a 5 night a week tribute to Nina Simone. She requested me to come by and shoot the band. After a stellar set of music I met up with her guitarist Greg Skaff in from New York to play the gig who also needed some updated photography for himself. Around 11:00 we were atop the Ellis/O’Farrell garage setting up for a portrait. The lights of the Palomar Hotel framed the back drop as the city wound down another day and I finally headed home for a short rest. Thursday morning had me scrambling about on five hours of sleep to get the kids to camp, and my equipment packed for a three shoot day. Intersection for the Arts www.theintersection.org recently opened their latest gallery installation “Sweet Beans and Rice: Investigating a Chino-Latino Future”. As I have been doing for years I was hired to document the gallery. These shoots are some of my favorite moments when I get to spend a couple of hours alone in a gallery with incredible art and make pictures. Upon completion of shoot number one I headed across town to another rooftop, this time in Chinatown, where I was to meet a new client, with a new business and a need for headshots. Setting up lights in the Stockton tunnel and creating a striking portrait was a challenge and an experience. I had no idea so many people walked through that tunnel and the sidewalk is quite narrow. With the sun going down on another San francisco day I had just enough time to eat a bit of dinner with the family before heading south to the campus of Stanford University and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. In it’s 40th year the SJW www.stanfordjazz.org puts on 30+ shows and holds three separate weeks of Jazz Camp each summer on the Stanford University Campus. This night was legendary Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist Milton Nacimento and I was shooting for the festival as I have done for the past eleven years. A great performance and a perfect end to a busy 24 hours in the life of Scott Chernis Photography.
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Plum Assignment

Being a photographer is often regarded as a dream job.  I when I tell people what I do for a living a common response is “you are so lucky”.  Little do they know that the reality of being a working photographer is anything but glamorous.  However, we do have our moments and that is what makes it a “dream job”.  Just last week I found myself perched atop the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium looking out over a scene that did not resemble the San Francisco City Hall that I have come to know and love over the past 15 years. The magnificent dome of City Hall was awash in orange light, thousands of people roamed the streets, mingling with jugglers, stilt walkers and marching bands.  A giant ferris wheel framed the scene at the north end of Polk St. and music blasted from speakers perched on the steps of City Hall.  This moment was the culmination of a weeklong assignment for the San Francisco Travel Association covering Pow Wow, an international event to promote the United States and San Francisco to the world.  For more images and information visit www.scottchernis.com