From time to time, I will use these “From the Archives” posts to highlight some of my photography from the period before I started this blog in late 2009. These photos have been publicly available on Flickr for some time but they have never before been featured on this blog. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past!
Four years ago (give or take a day) I was on a brief trip to the US that combined my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration in South Carolina with a road trip up to Washington, D.C. to see the historic inauguration of Barack Obama to the office of the President.
Although as campaign volunteer for Clinton way back in 1992 I had met the then-Governor-Clinton and later had been invited to his first inauguration (along with untold numbers of other campaign workers), for one reason or another I never made it up to DC. So Obama’s was my first inauguration, and it was quite the event. Hundreds of thousands of us rose in the predawn darkness, frozen solid by the time we even got to the Mall at 4:30am, happy that we had made it into the closest “public” area to the Capitol, but reasonably sure we were still only going to be seeing Mr Obama on the TV screens as there was little hope of actually being able to discern him in person.
As the actual swearing-in was not until noon, we waited for seven hours in sub-freezing temperatures, bundled into every item of cold weather gear we could scrounge, standing on space blankets to try in vain to stop the cold from seeping up through the frozen soil on the Mall, watching the sun come up.
It was a fun day when all is said and done, though, because the crowd were so energised, it was like a festival. Of course there was a huge African-American contingent, as would be appropriate for the inauguration of the first black president, and everywhere you looked people flashed beaming smiles at you, black, white, or otherwise.
At some point in the morning they rebroadcast Stevie Wonder performing “Higher Ground” at the pre-inauguration concert from the previous day and this really got everybody fired up. From then on, as the sun began to impart the tiniest amount of warmth, the Mall took on a festival-like atmosphere.
Soon enough it was time for business, and the thrum of excitement ratcheted up as the TV screens showed Obama waiting to be shown out onto the terrace of the Capitol. The rest, as they say, is history….
Of course, once the (flubbed) oath of office and the speech finished, there were upwards of 1.8 million people in and around the Mall who had to find some way of getting away, and after trying in vain for an hour or so to find a Metro stop that wasn’t completely ram-jammed, we decided to walk back over the frozen Potomac to Virginia so that we could pick up transportation there. It was worth it though, to have been there and been part of the event.
The next day I returned to the Mall as I had some free time, and saw them cleaning up after the festivities. If anything the ground looked even more desolate and frozen than the day before.
After a short tour of the Capitol building (during which I tried in vain to see if we could get out onto the platform to pretend to be taking the oath) the few tourists who decided to brave the cold for the second day in a row all seemed to drift down towards the White House, where we knew Obama was settling into his first full day in office…
Of course, that was a different time, and a lot has happened since then. We are not so hopeful and bright eyed as we were four years ago, and in many ways we are more divided. But maybe the President can conjure up a little more of that Obama magic today…
It’s been a good year for me. Not only have I got a new and exciting job with lots of travel, but I also moved in with my girlfriend and we’ve had the good fortune to have a couple of great holidays (to Vietnam and South Africa) and a couple more mini-break trips to boot.
It’s been an eventful year for me travel-wise. According to my profile on Tripit.com, in 2011 I have had 14 trips abroad totalling 100 days, racking up 147,596km of travel to 32 cities in 12 countries. Phew.
Apologies for the length of this post – I am having a hard time whittling down my favourite photos of the year!
In early January I was still getting to grips with my latest acquisition, a Canon 7D. I took it out on an crisp winter’s day and put it through its paces around West London:
I also made a brief business trip to Saudi Arabia. One of the stopovers was a coastal town called Yanbu, which like many Saudi cities has an “Al Balad”, an old town, which has often been left to rot, due to lack of a tourist trade and lack of interest in anything that isn’t shiny and new…
We capped off our travel this year with a personal trip over to New York for some family time around the Thanksgiving weekend. Lucky enough to have some relatives and friends who live in NYC, I make it over about once a year and always manage to find time to go out and shoot this mega-metropolis. Though I daresay I probably have enough Central Park shots in my library by now…
This will probably be my penultimate post for 2011, if not my last – my next one will be a retrospective of the year with some of my favourite photos. It’s been a very fulfilling year.
After a relaxing few days in Cape Cod, we headed down to New York City, staying 3 nights in Manhattan and 2 nights in Brooklyn with my sister. As it was my girlfriend’s first trip to NYC, we did a whole lot of walking (and a fair bit of eating and drinking, too) – and it was a good excuse to do a couple of touristy things I had never gotten around to doing, such as go up the Top of the Rock.
In the first instalment of photos from our recent trip to America, I will share some shots I took both around Cape Cod and in the ocean immediately north of the Cape, where we were very privileged to go whale watching.