The Family Photo
A few months ago the Irish Consulate in Chicago called me, wanting to know if I’d be interested in photographing the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, on his visit to the city. Without missing a beat, I said yes and got the details. A few weeks later, after being checked out by the Secret Service and Irish security, my son (in his first job as my assistant) and I found ourselves in the Drake Hotel, ready to photograph 300-500 guests, all eager to shake the president’s hand and have their picture taken with him.
Waiting for the President and Mrs Higgins to arrive for the family photo
First off, we had to photograph President Higgins with some local family members in a group picture. Then there were dignitaries to meet the president, finally followed by ninety minutes of ‘grip and grins’. As the official photographer, I could ask the Secret Service guy assigned to me to move other ‘photographers’ out of the way, though in practice, half the people were looking anywhere but at me, the president included. It was chaotic to say the least.
Secret Service not looking conspicuous at all. My son David is in the front, fitting in well.
A few well known people stopped by, including Cardinal Francis George and one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters and her husband (who wouldn’t look at my camera no matter how many pictures I took).
Cardinal Francis George stops by for a few laughs with the President.
I was told the woman on the left is one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters.
After it was over, I set up a website where everyone could download their pictures for free (it was included in my shooting fee), or pay for prints, which many did.
David handed out cards to everyone who had their picture taken.
I’ve photographed several presidents and world leaders, but this was the most enjoyable. President Higgins was a down to earth, affable chap who never seemed to tire of all the attention and adulation. If it was an American president or politician, it would’ve been stressful and frustrating beyond belief, but this was more like photographing your grandpa and his mates. Makes me want to go back to visit Ireland again now.
One of the Secret Service guys
Lisa Madigan (in blue), representing Chicago politics
In the end, David and I got to pose with the President too. Photo by Shane O’Neill/ Fennell Photography (Dublin)
The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.