A Distant Marine One in the Rain, Chicago, 2010
Over the past eight years I have been able to document some of the interesting sights the occurred concerning President Obama during his time in office. As the first Chicago resident to become President, there were many opportunities to come across the Presidential machinery, and although I did not come face to face with Mr. Obama, my car was once nearly hit by his speeding motorcade.
I wasn’t able to get the up-close and personal photos that White House photographer Pete Souza was able to get. However, I was able to capture some of the smaller ways that the people of Chicago and other places reacted to the President, showing the ways in which they liked or disliked him.
Ripped Obama Poster by Artist Ray Noland, Chicago, 2010
I did make specific trips to get photos in regards to the Obama Presidency such as attending his announcement to run for the office on that bitter cold day (the wind chill was 5 degrees Fahrenheit) in Springfield in February of 2007. I made the 194 mile trip to the State Capital with the idea of documenting an Illinois politician running for President (something I hadn’t experienced and might never again) and he also had a good chance of winning. While it was very cold and I was too far away (and too short) to get a good photo of Mr. Obama I was able to get a good deal of the setting and the exuberant crowd.
llinois State Police Keep Watch, Springfield, IL., 2007 / A Hopeful Supporter, Springfield, IL., 2007
Another trip I made was to Grant Park in Chicago for the Obama Victory celebration. It was an unusually warm day (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and there was an electricity in the air all over the city. It was a very exciting event to capture with my camera although, similarly to the announcement in Springfield, once you staked out a spot in the crowd it was impossible to get anything outside of where you were standing. Again, I went with getting the setting and the crowd but this time I wanted to get the way that it worked visually within the fabric of the city as well.
“Obamanomenon”, Chicago, 2008 / “Change”, Chicago, 2008
In order to complete the three events leading up to the start of Obama’s Presidency, I made sure to make it down to Pioneer Court on Michigan Ave. where a giant screen had been erected in order to show the swearing in of the President. I didn’t have any urge to go to the inauguration in Washington D.C. figuring that I wanted to continue to document it from the Chicago perspective.
Swearing in of President Obama as Seen on TV, Pioneer Court, Chicago, 2009
After those events I made sure to grab any instances that I would see in regards to Obama. And, of course, some of those included the negative views that many Americans had about the President.
Obama Joker Poster, FT. Wayne, IN., 2009 / “Comrade”, Berwyn, IL., 2014
Although Mr. Obama’s years as President are over his complicated legacy is sure to continue to stir people here in Chicago as well as throughout the rest of the country for years to come. I will continue to capture his influence as part of my documenting Chicago history while I also prepare to photograph the effects that the incoming President has on the next four years. (All Images- Copyright, Jeffery C. Johnson, 2017)
Detail, School Mural, Chicago, 2009