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Arun Chaudhary


Arun Chaudhary: The White House Videographer (PHOTOS)

Posted: 09/12/2012 2:50 pm

From the early months of the 2008 campaign, and through the first two and a half years of the Obama administration, I had a unique perspective on the President of the United States. I felt sort of like President Obama's wedding videographer if every day was a wedding with the same groom, but a constantly rotating set of hysterical guests.

Although I had the privilege of being the first ever Official White House videographer, documenting the behind-the-scenes goings on of our Presidency, it wasn't until I left the administration last year that I had a chance to fully explore what it meant to be at the nexus of art, politics and media - the result of which is my book, "First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency in Real Time" (Times Books, $30).

Film and politics have been intertwined ever since the first Edison reels rattled in projection halls a century ago. But with the advent of new technologies and a new public that is hungry for images of their leaders, I was in the right place at the right time to observe the interplay of film and politics at the very highest level during these historic and challenging times.

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  • A day filming Senator Obama in Allentown. This is how I remember any typical campaign day, especially me at my pre-campaign weight, looking downright svelte. (Photo by Scout Tufankjian/Polaris Images)

  • Standing on my spot in the Oval Office. I always preferred to stand on that side of the desk, which was helpful to Pete because he would know where I was and it was also a useful spot for getting POTUS on phone calls if he needed to use the phone. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

  • POTUS drops his BlackBerry on a tarmac. This is one of those moments when you need to define your role on the staff: Was it my job to pick up the President's BlackBerry and hand it to him or should I film for posterity? Read the book and find out which role I chose! (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • The White House is full of interesting juxtapositions. Often my favorite things to shoot were ordinary things in extraordinary circumstances. In this picture, my son Leo's bottle was placed on top of some presidential papers in the Staff Secretary's office. (Photo by Arun Chaudhary)

  • Filming Obama boarding Air Force One. This is a shot I have taken literally hundreds of times, but on this one photographer Drew Angerer managed to capture my pants falling down ... just so. (Photo by Drew Angerer)

  • Helping prep Senator Obama on a direct-to-camera immediately following his nomination. This is one of many moments I ruined. Whenever people were just trying to relax for a second and enjoy a moment, I would come storming in with a camera and a script. (Photo by David Katz, Obama for America)

  • This is me stumbling up the stairs into the campaign plane. The funny thing was that a very similar picture of John McCain had come out after one of the Presidential debates. It took me a while to live this picture down.

  • The President turns the tables on his cameraman. POTUS was always curious as to what I was shooting, but this was the only time he wanted to get in on the act himself. As I say in the book ... you'll have to wait a while to find out if the camera was on and what I said! (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • If it's Friday, it must be the Weekly Address! Every Friday we would gather for one of the week’s most dreaded chores – taping the weekly address. The President has referenced the "Shine Police" as being his least favorite aspect of being President. Sorry to say ... that was us. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

  • This is not an ad for Apple Computers, it's actually me showing the President a video of Trip Director Marvin Nicholson that was deemed "inappropriate" for the website. The President thought it was pretty good. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • This was (most of) the staff who traveled with the candidate on the campaign plane. Truly a home away from home, the plane was the point of operations for the New Media road team. We actually took up an entire row. In this shot, the gang sort of looks like a terrible soccer team.

  • LARRY! Thanks to the heads up planning of presidential Trip Director Marvin Nicholson, we all got to meet (POTUS included) Larry the cat. He is a resident of 10 Downing Street, which is the Prime Minister of the UK's house and office. It should also be mentioned that he is a rescue animal. Go 10 Downing! (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)